Life 3.0 – Thanksgiving

It’s crazy to think I’m almost a full month into Life 3.0 already.

It’s been a weird transition going from the west coast, where the sun goes down after dinner even on the shorter days of the year, to the east coast where it starts getting dark not long after you eat lunch.

Since I got here, my days have been balanced between a hard target search of gainful employment as soon as humanly possible, and also taking every opportunity to get out into this part of the world and reconnect with the New England I remembered from my childhood.

But we’ve hit the Holiday season and Thanksgiving and while this was on my mind for the past few months, I figured this was the most appropriate time to say some things that need to be said to people I need to say them to.

 

Matthew – I suspect my decision to leave probably hit you the hardest given how intertwined our lives have been for most of the last 30 years, but I couldn’t have made that decision were it not for the example you set for me in being true to yourself and who you are. I’m sure it wasn’t easy and I’m sure there have been days where you’ve grappled with it, but I’ve seen the transition that’s occurred in you as a result and it’s been extremely positive.

Thank you for showing me that I can make that kind of decision for myself and be authentic to who I am. I seriously could not have done that without you and I am beyond proud of you.

 

Patrick – I never thought I’d see the day where you were no longer connected to the stage in one form or another, and I saw that decision as a massive gamble into an area outside of your comfort zone. Sometimes, we have to do that in order to reach a place of happiness and self-satisfaction with who we are and what our lives are.

Thank you for showing me that taking chances and changing gears is not necessarily a step backward, but is rather a step in a different direction which hopefully still leads to the same destination. I hope you find continued happiness in academia and that you keep being creative in other endeavors.

 

Carol Ann and Gillian – I know our interactions have been fairly limited to when I get together with your husbands so we can go behave like the juveniles we often are, but I always had the hope that Patrick and Matthew would find someone who’d support, challenge and inspire them.

I also hoped they would find someone whom they could support, challenge and inspire because marriage is not and should never be a one-way street and to watch how you’ve come together into the families you are has been awesome. I’m sure it hasn’t always been easy (trust me, I’ve known these guys for almost 30 years now), but they are better people for being with you.

You are both brilliant, incredible women and I thank you most sincerely for who you are and what you’ve done for my brothers. I look forward to seeing how your relationships continue to grow over the years ahead.

 

Deborah, James, and Shayla – Growing up in a completely dysfunctional family isn’t fun and it often impacts the relationships you have with the families of other friends who tend make snap decisions about you based on how you present yourselves to them. I’m sure there were a lot of times I left you wondering just how much of a loon I could be with all the mistakes I’ve made along the way, but I know without any hesitation that I couldn’t have gotten through any of those times without your support.

It is not hyperbole to say that you saved my life during the darkest days I’ve gone through, and I thank you so much for not being judgmental, for being so supportive and always seeing the best in me…especially when I didn’t see it myself. I love you all so very much and I always will.

 

Dub and Fuego – You are insane, beautiful, powerful warrior women and it’s been fascinating watching how you’ve shown the self-discipline and determination to transform yourselves into who you are now.

There are days where I tell myself I cannot do the things you’ve done. That it will take too much work, that I don’t know how, that I’m not smart or strong enough to figure it out, and then I see you both scaling mountains, slinging the iron and finding ways to put in the time every day.

Thank you for providing me both encouragement and motivation to start figuring out how to transform myself into the physical person I know I can be, as long as I’m willing to put in the time and effort myself. I know I will never look as good in a bikini as either of you, but I’m looking forward to where I will be in a year from now.

 

Alana – My indomitable fearless freak. I’ve watched you over the time since we spent together in the bowels of Walter Hall in the dead of night with a sense of sheer awe. You’ve been to the top of mountains, on the high seas, on the open road, under the spotlights and seemingly almost everywhere in-between.

Nothing seems to shake you, nothing seems to scare you, you seem like you could give a fuck about other people’s opinions about who you are and what you want from your life and there have been many times where I’ve been left to wonder how you manage to do that.

You are amazing, Boss. You are nothing short of amazing and you inspire me with each new adventure you embark on.

Thank you for your bravery and the courage to grab life by the throat and not shy away from the awesomeness that exists outside your door. If I can convince myself to do even half of what you’ve managed to do before my days end, I will regret nothing.

 

Sarah – You crazy, beautiful foul-mouthed harlequin. You’ve grown from a precocious and take-no-bullshit student into a wife and a take-no-bullshit mother and it’s been brilliant. I love how I can always turn to you for both the unfiltered truth and a little bit of chaos and anarchy when I need a pick-me-up. I know it’s going to be bumpy at times with Will gone on his assignment, but every time I see Veronica smile and do her thing, I see you and it shows me how great a parent you are going to continue to be as she grows up.

Thank you for reminding me that for every time I have to be serious and responsible, there are times when I can let my madness out to play for a bit and that’s all right…so long as no one gets hurt enough to call an ambulance.

 

Holly – Some days, I wonder how we’ve managed to become such good friends, and I feel quite silly about that, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I know you’re at a point in your life where you’re trying to decide who and what you’re going to be in the next chapter. It’s scary and takes a lot of thinking and asking yourself a lot of rather unpleasant questions that can yield some uncomfortable and difficult answers.

That, as much as we don’t like to think about it and as much as we try to ignore it, is life.

What makes those times more bearable is when we can turn to friends who respect and can empathize with us and get the feedback we need to help from those critical decisions. I have always valued our ability to just talk to each other without the need for filters and the openness of the conversations we share.

Thank you so much for that and the times we’ve been able to be silly and juvenile and creative and introspective and emotional. I know you will figure out what is on the horizon for you and your life and I cannot wait to see the person you will become when it happens.

 

Renee – My dear survivor. I wish I’d had a chance to know you before your tribulations began, but I am so glad I got to know you now. Despite our obvious differences, it’s stymieing how alike we are and that similarity often happens only when you have to endure things very few people can even comprehend.

We all need people to inspire us to get back up when we stumble and fall and you inspire me every day. You possess a strength which belies your stature and you remind me of what we survivors often lose sight of. That as bad as things are in this moment which seems to be stretched out forever, if you can get through it, then the next day will be better, even if the improvement is just fractional.

You can answer questions about yourself that few people can, including me. I will always be there to pick you back up on the days you stumble and on the days when things seem darkest, I will follow you in and help lead you back out again. Thank you for being who you are, for giving me a purpose and showing me how to keep fighting, even when I don’t think I can anymore.

 

Haley – What a pair we make. We came together at a time I’d spent sealing myself off from emotions I try to avoid like the plague, and despite every wall or every misdirection I put in front of you, you figure out how to slip past all that and keep me honest. I can’t bullshit you and you don’t always let me get away with my habitual need to kick my own ass.

I am beyond grateful to you for that. It’s uncomfortable and being vulnerable is not something I’m good at anymore, but the chance to be so is something I need, despite the stubbornness that drives you up the wall half the time.

Thank you for coming into my life and for still being here after all the ugly, twisted things you’ve seen at the center of me. I love you much and sincerely hope you find the happiness you deserve.

 

Even though I am on the other side of the continent now, that doesn’t mean I will ever forget you. I couldn’t forget you all if I tried, nor do I want to. My life has been all the brighter because you’ve let me into your lives and allowed me to share and learn and evolve along with you.

I know it hasn’t always been easy and I’m sure there were times when you wanted to hit me upside the head with a crowbar in the hopes I’d come around and see reason, but you are all a big part of why I followed through with Life 3.0. I may have owed it to myself, but I also owed it to you because you deserve to have the best version of me that I can give you when you need it.

It may take a while, but we will see each other again and I very much look forward to when that happens. I hope you all have a safe and wonderful Thanksgiving and Holiday season.

The Road to Life 3.0 – Final Destination

boston-iAs the philosophers Garcia and Weir once observed…what a long, strange trip it’s been.

This time a week ago, I was on my way to South Dakota and an unplanned appointment with a locksmith after somehow managing to lock my keys in my intrepid car for the first time in the ten years I owned her. I’d already put nearly 1,000 miles between me and Life 2.0 and still had another 2,000 to go before I finally got to where I wanted to go.

Now I’m sitting in the heart of the city I’ve loved since the first time I saw it a lifetime ago, typing this out in a hole-in-the-wall coffee shop on a bustling piece of avenue, and only now is it starting to sink in.

I’m home. Son of a bitch, I actually did it.

I conquered the Rocky Mountains, the Continental Divide, the Great Plains, Chicago traffic, the Indiana, Ohio and New York Turnpikes and 3,006 miles with all the stuff I brought with me to carry over into Life 3.0 relatively intact.

Along the way, I fully expected there to be some point where the emotional weight of what I was doing was going to finally catch up with me. When you have nothing but the friendly confines of your car and the great open space beyond as your primary companions on that sort of a trip, you’re left with a lot of time to try to process things and just think.

For whatever reason, though, it never did run me down.

I suppose some of that had to do with my understanding that on a continent-long stretch of road, there really isn’t a convenient place to pull over and have a complete emotional breakdown.

Editorial Note: I did my best to keep an eye out for a sign indicating such a place among the literal thousands I encountered on the way. I suspect had I gone another route, my chances might have been better somewhere around Kansas. They’re quite used to dealing with bouts of insanity as of late.

Even when I finally got to my hometown a couple of days ago, I expected with the decompression from the hours and hours of travel, that would be replaced by the cleansing acknowledgement of what I’d done.

Nope. Not a bit.

No, it didn’t start hitting me until a couple hours ago when I got off the ol’ T on the banks of the Charles River and took a long look at a skyline I’d last seen nearly ten years ago.

And as I walked along the south bank looking back at Cambridge, it just kept growing until I had to take a seat on a bench and just let it wash over me like the late afternoon breeze.

How I didn’t start bawling my eyes out, I have no idea. I certainly felt like doing it and for good reason.

During the last 30 years, I’d dreamt about the possibility of getting back here one way or another, but along the way I kept writing it off to myself as just another pipe dream that I was never going to actually fulfill. There was almost too many excuses. Too many impediments. Too many things

There was almost too many excuses. Too many impediments. Too many times I’d let myself accept that it was another impossibility that I was just going to have to write off and get used to.

But there I was, staring up at the Hancock and Prudential Towers, looking upstream and seeing the CITGO sign in its relative proximity to Fenway, and then walking past row upon row of majestic brownstones on my way down to the Common.

It wasn’t a dream, an illusion or a construct I’d had to create for me to just get through another day.

It’s real. I am here and I can come and go as I please. No restrictions. No rules. No time limit.

Now would it have been nice had my son been able to come with me to see all this? Of course it would, and hopefully, at some point, that will happen. That remains a battle for another day, however, and when it comes, I’ll be in a position where it won’t be a major obstacle to clear.

The more I walked through town, the less anxious I began to feel. The reasons for the anxiety are varied and not worth recounting, but it also came with the natural understanding no matter what it was trying to tell me, it doesn’t change the fact that this is my city and I am fully within my right to embrace that as much as I choose.

I know this won’t be the last time I come back to the city over the next few weeks. After all, I have to start looking for work ASAP and this gave me a chance to get an initial lay of the land and start figuring out how to best navigate from one place to another in the most efficient ways possible.

Editorial Note: After all the years of riding the MAX through Portland, I suppose it was natural to get a little cocky and think I could figure out the transit system in pretty much any city I went to, including Boston. Three laps around Alewife Station trying to find the parking lot entrance and being unable to cram my way onto not one but two subways was a rather sobering reminder of how much of a Grasshopper I still am.

That’s okay, though. Like I tell my son, everything is strange and weird at first until you get used to it and then learn more about it.

I have all the time in the world to get reacquainted with my city. I know it’s not perfect and that’s okay too. I made sure to leave my rose-colored spectacles back in the desert.

For now, this big old flawed city is a place I can be comfortable, be anonymous and most importantly, be myself. That’s all I ever wanted from it.

Life 3.0 has officially begun. Tally Ho.