Every now and then, I like to rummage through the dusty corners of my mind for long-lost stories that, most likely, some day I will forget. I mean, for Pete’s sake (whoever Pete may be) our personal hard-drives can only contain so much data, so I understand that some of the lesser significant incidents in my life will one day disappear.
However, for the next 800 words or so, I’ll make a quick dash through my mind and see what little nuggets I can pluck from over the years.
When I was five, I attended kindergarten at Meadowpark Elementary. This was back in the days when it was OK for your kids to walk 10 blocks to school without fear of being kidnapped. I’m sure I was escorted at first and the odds are that, most days, I got a ride from my mom. But I do remember walking home occasionally and, there was a time, I developed an infatuation with a rosy-cheeked girl named Susan. There was just something about those cheeks of hers. Then one day, I wanted to see if they really tasted like peaches and decided to bite her on the cheek. To my disappointment, they tasted pretty human. The following day, her older brother threatened me that if I ever did that again, he would pound me. I didn’t. Pounding avoided. This might also explain my lack of interest in peaches.
By third grade, I had found myself in a private school at Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Redondo Beach, California. We’re talking really small church school, as in two classrooms: first through fourth grades in one, fifth through eighth grade in the other. Among the memories I can pluck from those years: the time we were playing Hide-n-Seek and rather than being called out by Laurel Scherer, I pushed her face first into a flag pole which chipped her tooth. (I don’t know why) When other church schools came to play us in basketball, there were games when the fog rolled in (we played on the asphalt court outdoors) and you couldn’t see the other end of the court. Terry Smith, you get credit for telling me the first dirty joke I ever heard (and having to explain each step of it to me) and because there was a Greek Orthodox Church next door to our church school, whenever they had a funeral next door, we lost out on recess because, otherwise, the kids would all hang on the fence to get a look at a casket.
In 7th grade, I found myself back in public school and was trying to fit in. One day, during recess, I broke my collar-bone but so I wouldn’t get in trouble, I didn’t say a thing and just went back to class. The teacher eventually sent me to the nurse’s office, where the principal asked if me and the other kids had been playing Chicken Fights (where one kid carries the other piggy-back style and they try to knock over other kids doing that). I vehemently denied that it happened during Chicken Fights and I remember moaning more when pressed. The principal eventually gave up, no names had to be given up, so our secret was safe. But I officially retired that day from the Chicken Fight Club.
My sophomore year of high school, I was falling in love with the girl across the street. But she was a year older and I wasn’t even on her radar at the time. When it came time for my school’s “Sweethearts Ball” (where the girl asks the guy to the dance) a nice young lady named Eileen Matsuda asked me to go and I said, “Yes.” Not because I wanted to go with her, but rather because I was hoping it would make the neighbor girl jealous. She never did, I was a complete dud of a date for Eileen who deserved much better and a lousy night was had by all. Not sure she ever spoke to me again after that night.
Now, I came to the college years. I swear, one day that era of my life will be captured in a screenplay because so much happened during those years and I’m pretty sure the statute of limitations has expired on most of those incidents. I made some life-long friends at Terry Hall, one of the dorms at the University of Washington campus, where so many of my adventures took place. The biggest life-changing one came one morning when that neighbor girl I had eventually wooed and won over called and left a message with my roommate, saying I needed to call her back. I had worked that morning at the dorm cafeteria, so when I got off, I headed upstairs and dialed her up. In a tear-filled explanation, she described how she had a “sign from God” the night before to break up with me. Coming out of the blue like that, I tried to reason with her and asked her to wait until I could fly home and we could talk things over. She said no and we were done. Several months later, she married the Baptist minister that helped her realize that sign from God. Yeah.
A pretty random collection of stories, but all with a purpose. You see, each of us have these highs and lows lurking in our past. There are moments we recall fondly and others we wonder what the heck we were thinking. That unique collection of experiences helped shape our thinking, our attitudes, our beliefs, to create the unique being we are at this very moment.
It’s easy to say things like, “If only we had…” but stop right there. Things happen for a reason and in time, you become aware of why, or how they fit into the big picture. Sure, it’s fun to think about do-overs and if you could have a couple of them, how differently life would be for you today. But it wouldn’t just change just the parts you want to alter, but your entire world as you know it today. And frankly, we live in a pretty awesome world. Far from perfect, but as you’ve read above, I’ve had my share of non-perfect.
Life is awesome. Setbacks happen, problems arise, but if you have the will and the means to just keep going, it all balances out.
I’m counting this as my spring cleaning. Thanks for the read.