Tuesday, April 8, 2014

With Imagination...

Sometimes a guy just has to use his imagination, and make his own opportunities...even if they aren't even remotely real ones. With imagination you can go anywhere.

Good and Gone

Young seemed like yesterday. It wasn't. We all stumble past that awkward age of not being young anymore but being far from old. I'm smack in the middle of it. Unsure of my exact place, I do my best to have some grace...I miss the mark on occasion, but a guy tries. I watch friends falling apart. I take my fair share of shots...the grey hair...the knee injury that just doesn't heal...the one step too slow...all of it. The funny truth is, however, I've never felt more vibrant. I've never felt more alive and capable than I do right now. Sure, I felt pretty bombproof hanging with the fellas back in the day, but bombproof is different from vibrant. Much different. I was probably better looking, and I was certainly in better shape, but as we age we learn (or we hope that we learn) that those are the most fleeting of things, and that truthfully, grace is all that really matters. I can't run as fast as I used to but here's the one is chasing me. There are no bears. Did I really look better back then, sans grey and lean and a full pant size smaller? Maybe, or maybe not. I'd rather see my own face in a photo now than I would have then. I had no confidence, or not enough. I felt like a branch being blown in every direction by the wildest wind. Now I feel more like the trunk of that tree...sturdy and going nowhere other than where I've planted my roots.

Did I lose something with age? Maybe, but it feels more like I've found myself...older, sure, but a more honest version of that same guy...and I like him a lot more. I have a house full of girls that make me feel like the most vibrant man on the planet, and friends who fill me with confidence in a simple conversation, or a look, with an overdo hug, or a kind word...both men and women...some of them make me feel infinitely better than anyone did when I was young. These days the grey doesn't hurt me, the confidence isn't bravado, it's real, the perspective is polished, and I might not be quite as lean but I'm sure as hell a lot more man, and it has nothing to do with the bigger waist size. I don't know what my friends would say but I'll take this older version of me, the one with three girls waiting at home for me, with friends that love me, and the feeling that whoever that young guy was, he can stay good and gone.

Friday, April 4, 2014

A New Kind of Empty

I don't remember what it's like to have my heart all to's been portioned off for so long now. Coming home from days away feels like surfacing for air after the waves have held you under. It'll be nice to breathe again. I've never known "missing" this much.


Believing without question can carry you home."

"--Steve Lopez, The Soloist

Carl was hiding from the same rain that I was, under the same awning of the Pantages Theatre as I stood. He spoke first.

"I think you're more wet than I am," he said respectfully, with a wide smile.

He had an umbrella, and I did not.

I laughed. "I think you might be right," I said.

He didn't hesitate to enjoy some small bit of conversation in a day, I'm certain, often held very little promise of such a simple pleasure.

"Where's a guy going in rain like this without an umbrella," he asked politely, holding his hand out from under the awning to catch a fistful of raindrops.

"Union Station," I replied quickly. "I have to catch a train home."

He didn't ask where home was. He didn't offer any more small talk but just simply held out his folded umbrella.

"What's this," I asked hesitantly, knowing exactly what it was, but not certain of the gesture.

"You want to use my umbrella," he asked, and thrust it gently closer.

I paused, not to think about the obvious kindness in front of me, damp and unfathomably gracious, but to contemplate the wonder of the moment. I had seemingly everything but an umbrella. He had seemingly nothing but an umbrella. It left me silent for a some number of seconds before I could frame it all properly.

"No sir," I replied humbly with as much gratitude as refusal allows. "No that's yours. You'll need it."

He only smiled and pushed the gift closer. "That's alright," he said, "I'll find another one, and I don't have any place to go." His smile grew impossibly wider. If there were ever Grace in a moment it was there in that smile.

Suddenly a gift of my own parted the awkwardness between us. "No, I'd rather just wait it out here with you," I offered with a smile of my own.

"Deal," was all he said.

It's not enough to try to be kind, you must just be. Believing in our connection with one another is not the same as trying to understand. Believing it makes us all brothers and sisters.

It struck me as our conversation ebbed and flowed, and then again as the rain slowed and I readied myself to walk the last few blocks to Union Station, maybe I needed the umbrella less than I needed the conversation. Maybe that was true for both of us.