Scenes from the passenger seat of an Explorer
Its 106 miles to our cheap hotel. We’ve got half a tank of gas, a full humidor of cigars, its dark and no one is wearing sunglasses.
Its amazing the ways in which a movie I first saw in my college years can continue to provide so much relevance and laughter even after all these years. Here I am, sitting in the passenger seat of an SUV, traveling down the interstate to a hotel in the middle of nowhere, which is halfway between where I live and where I want to be, and yet this movie comes back to me once again.
And there is no better time than now for it to return to my mind. Since it is too dark to read, everyone, including the driver, is tired and listening to music really isn’t something that appeals to me at the moment, I figured it was time to finally write this blog that has been stewing for several weeks.
Sometimes it requires utter boredom and vehicular captivity to make me write.
The last few weeks have brought to my attention just how important the month of May is in my life. I’ve never really noticed it until this year, but somehow this 5 of 12 seems to play such a pivotal role in just about every year for the past decade. Maybe its because spring is in full bloom. Maybe its because this is a month of transitions. Maybe its something I don’t yet understand. Whatever it is, it is both sorrowful and joyful.
Ten years and one week ago, I graduated from college. I didn’t even realize this until the day after the anniversary. It just snuck up so gradually, like a tiger stalking its prey through the tall grass. I was grazing and got jumped. Its so weird to think that for the last decade, I’ve been calling most of the shots in my life. I picked my job. I picked where I would live. I picked my friends. I picked my clothing. I picked my car.
The transition from student to employee was a strange one, where I went from being the guy who paid the old person’s salary (well, my parents paid the old person anyway) to the guy who was paid by the old person. I didn’t get it at first, that I couldn’t just not show up to work until I felt like it, but eventually the lesson did sink in.
It was only one year later, again in May, when the full lesson of being an adult would really come home. Curtis died. We had been graduates a little less than a year, and my best friend was no longer part of my life; would never again be part of my life. I got to be an adult and chose to go to his funeral. If there has been a more painful and difficult day in my life, I do not know what it was.
It is strange to think how that one day still colors most of my life. Curtis is regularly on my mind. I miss him a great deal and think I always will. The last nine years have dulled the pain, and to a lesser extent the joy and memories, but the missing spot inside me now longs to hear him call me a schmuck just one more time.
I have amazing friends in my life right now, 3 of whom surround me in this vehicle. Their friendship is amazing and I wouldn’t trade them for the world. I’ve known two of them longer than I knew Curtis and the third one I’m getting ready to marry. Yet even their wonderful presence in my life can’t make up for the loss.
And more time passed. Four years went by and I found myself in yet another May. This one dealt me another month of pain… gall bladder surgery. It is strange, knowing your body is breaking down and being unable to really do anything on your own to make it better. The pain was debilitating, requiring me to close my office door after lunch and lay on the floor, crying, until the pain subsided. I would open the door to the world and great it covered in a sick sheen of sweat. Drinking clean, cold water, and a lot of it, was the only thing which helped to lessen the pain.
After the surgery, it took a long time to get better. The pain of the surgery, while nothing in comparison to the pain of the ailment, was weeks in dissipating. The change in lifestyle and body rhythms still impacts my life today.
But I chose the pain. My diet, something that still isn’t very good, caused the stones to form. My decision was to endure more pain to remove the first. Even knowing how much the surgery would hurt, and having a small understanding of what the recovery would entail, I still chose to go through with it. It was worth it, but still not an easy choice to make.
Yet more time passed. Three more years went by and I made the biggest decision of all… to quit my job and get a new one. I was now rapidly approaching 30 years of age and realized that were I to remain where I was, I would be in that position for at least a decade. That was not what I wanted.
For the previous 4.5 years, I had been working towards a goal. The prior fall I had reached the goal, attaining everything I wanted, if not in the way I ever thought it would occur. It was time to move on and I knew it… but my employer was too blind to see that fact. So, I had to show them the error of their ways and keep their shortsightedness from hobbling me in the attainment of greater goals.
And so I left. It was scary, I wasn’t sure if I could do it, and yet it all came out so perfectly in the end. Yet again, the journey led me somewhere I never expected, layoff, unemployment and eventually working for a food service company, yet not once I have I ever regretted my decision to change.
So here I am, back in this vehicle, halfway to somewhere I really want to be. I’ve got good friends by my side, a wonderful life that is too amazing to believe and what looks to be a bright future ahead.
Despite all the good, and the rapidly approaching, boring month of June, I can’t help but wonder if something bad is looming on the horizion, around the next bend in this curvy road. I guess we’ll just have to keep driving in order to find out.