My apologies for blank space but the need to refuel writing outside of work that doesn't seem like work is very necessary. Last night there was no hot tub, but a couch that was older than the two people sitting on it for most of the evening. One every ten minutes or so, a four-year old would bounce up with a tired smile to curl up then take off without reason. Besides the boarded up fireplace in the basement which shielded the nasty recent humidity front which cooled the area to be comfortable, was a large HDTV. A relative relic now standing at six years old and weighs about 100 pounds but works well enough for the kids to have a place to watch Tom and Jerry re-runs or Monsters vs. Aliens on the dual VCR/DVD combo. But, last night after my wife found some old VHS tapes we decided to take over the space for a short time traveling excursion.
The first was her playing in the 1990 14-year olds Minnesota State Softball tourney somewhere in northern Minnesota. After seeing the dot matrix like white font with the year, date, and time as a constant reminder of OLD OLD OLD with every pitch during her team's defeat of 6-0, it took a quick look in the bathroom mirror with gray hairs sticking defiantly from my chin to confirm OLD OLD OLD. As I hobbled back to the couch after pointing and laughing at its age thus tempting the structure to collpase, the second tape was put in
Mullets, fritzy hair, acne, indecision, depression, freedom, baseball, pep rallys, Grease: The Musical, a future. The 1994 Anoka Tornados Video Yearbook came across the screen and for the next hour finger-pointing at hair-dos, people my wife remembered included a sizable young man who was featured several times as royalty to the different dances took his life just one year after donning a faux-velvet crown and getting a stand-ovation as he walked across the basketball court floor. The muscials shorts were well-produced, the clips of the debate team, foreign language, and every other student organization gave a short group "hello" to the camera along with the leaders nervously telling what future world problems they would solve (perhaps they could start with that BP oil spill and work their way to the US budget deficit
On a personal level I tried to remember my high school years as replays of the various dances came across the screen, and since my fawning over just two girls the entire time I walked the halls of Osseo Senior combined with the complete lack of confidence, I barely knew of all these after school dances, much less any after-school activity that didn't involve another round of advance math and science classes or baseball during the spring trimester. The friends I shared locker space with are the same ones my kids play with their kids today. Homely, for a guy who loves the bright lights of Vegas but I had my chance to break from my hometown if I so desired. Being a freshman at Arizona State and holding my own academically but inside, fixing to jump off the top of one of those buildings if I didn't find something to latch onto, the decision was to return home and right the ship before I ended up like the gentleman above who took his own life despite being named a dream date by several girls wearing the school's maroon and white.
The after the credits rolled and the couch returned us to an asleep child who needed a parent to take her upstairs to her beloved and ragged "K" pillow, and a mohawk'd one in Transformers PJs to his much faded blue lizard two kids had grown-up in different ways only to end up in a basement of a house built the year they were born to start the process again. Will I be able to provide the push to my kids to achieve what they can instead of what is safe? Can I help them find themselves so they do not have to endure the same painful adolescent years without a sense of direction and self-worth
For certain, they will get everything I know I can give them and perhaps things I didn't know I could get them.