I has it.
Looking in the mirror before five a.m. and seeing the sign that I'm no longer the awkward college student, but the awkward man-child parent of two husband to one that is currently doing a 45 degree head tilt to get a better look at the unpigmented piece of stubble on his chin.
For the first time I was hoping it was just a zit.
Last night there was a taste of what is to become the 5th annual WPBT Winter Classic (with the Luckbox Challenge and $2,000 added bucks by PokerStars) next weekend. That taste came in the form of a fellow degenerate rolling through town on business, along with a fellow Minnesotan and finding a few hours to watch Tom Izzo's team get blown away by a University of North Carolina squad that looked like they were shooting ping pong balls into Lake Superior for baskets. It wasn't the game or the excellent Tripel served by the flirty dark eyed waitress at Rock Bottom Brewery. It was a brief moment to see a couple of friends that due to life getting in the way makes tying one on and making new friends $20 for three minutes a time unattainable but delightfully blank with a glass of imperial stout feasible.
No deadlines, conference calls, or having to tell your daughter that swiping something from your brother and being asked to return it but instead taking the item and dropping it behind the couch is wrong. Just a chance to chat without a 140 keystroke or internet connection limit. This is life. Mine at least. To some its reaching for that next corporate rung via late nights and cross-country flights. Noting the action of people with too much money as they flip over cards in exotic locales. Or dropping by the cube for 10 hours a spot to enjoy the company and hope that a challenge is thrown your way so that your not spinning your head about not doing enjoy and can enjoy the benefits package which keeps your kids healthy and under a newly shingled roof. We do these things for different reasons, but one should hope that once the veneer of work clothes are stripped away there's something that gets you to go back tomorrow and be free of resentment. Whether its the job itself that drives you, the rewards of financial stablity, or the ear-to-ear grin of a child that just got that Nintendo DSi they've been pawing you for, earned by those extra hours of overtime that drive should never fade completely.
For myself during those dark years of recent past there was nothing but resentment toward my wife, my job, myself. Only thru the patchwork of friends scattered in towns like Albertville, Brooklyn Park, Hutchinson and across the US did I get to the point sitting this chair and saying "I have it pretty fucking good right now". It wasn't my wife's decision to better her life, or mine to hear what I missing out on for so many years, it was my friends and family with their unabashed support. Whether it was a quote from a long dead Greek philosopher, funds and a note to turn me into a new person with the ability to chat about a decent way to cook edamame (ginger and soy sauce will be tried later in the week) in a crowded noisy restaurant, or a simple nod with a raised glass of barley and hops while the Purple destroy another team on the gridiron its the reason I get a little misty around this upcoming trip.
And before you ask, no I won't wax poetic the whole time as that should saved for quiet 4am chats in a dark corner of Sherwood Forest, its better to discuss who has a better rack between Jessica Biel and Scarlett Johansson or the whole Tiger-gate thing (my opinion, leave him the hell alone) at the Pai Gow table than discuss a mid-life crisis while you're shouting at Xi to finally turnover a 10-high pai gow.
Eight days folks.