Rolling over to hit (just one more) “snooze” on my phone alarm, the bedroom was somewhat cold, a nearby open window the culprit, though a welcomed temperature change from those sweaty August nights without air-conditioning.
When did fall show up? Sheesh. I feel like I was just getting into the groove of it being summer. Stretching outwardly in my bed, I reached for the phone and started scrolling through my social media feeds, a go-to procrastination tactic to avoid getting up and out the door to seize that carp they keep talking ‘bout.
Flooding my feeds this past Tuesday morning were countless photos of kids heading off to school. All children of old friends of mine back home in Upstate New York. I remember when these kids were born, and here they are now — walking, talking, trying to be fashionable for the first day, trying to carve out whatever space they can in the dog-eat-dog world that is adolescence.
Now, this isn’t to say I’m old by any means. But, at 31, it sure does show just how much time has passed, since I’ve seen those old friends, and since I slowed down enough to take a gander at the calendar on the wall. And as I scrolled through those images, clicking “like” in an act of solidarity and, “Hey, I haven’t forgotten about you and your family,” I also began to think of something author Ron Rash has told me the day prior.
As we interviewed on Labor Day about his new novel, The Risen, we began talking about the idea of consequence, and how you might make enormous decisions in your life, ones that change the entire course and trajectory of your existence, and yet, perhaps, you might not ever know if it was the right or wrong choice — you just live with what was decided and make the best of your lot in life.
Seeing those “first day” pictures of parents and their kids, it was odd, to be honest. I think we all go through that, where it’s like, “Damn, last time I saw her she was doing a keg stand at a frat party” or “I remember when that guy said he’d never get married, ever.” I suppose that just the circle of life, that big wheel of time and chance we have little control over. Things happen in their own time, and also unfold in their own ways.
Which is why — between the arrival of fall, the school photos, and the chat with Rash — I began thinking about the consequences of my actions. Right out of college, I hit the road, to find myself, and also stay ahead of any kind of anchor that may have been thrown into the waters of my hometown. Although I had thought in high school I had wanted a wife and kids, a nice house and new car, as I got out into the world, all those notions faded away, only to be replaced by all that is irresponsible enlightenment.
I had that conversation with myself years ago, probably cruising along some dusty back road on the high desert prairies of Eastern Idaho. I didn’t have time for a girlfriend, let alone a wife or kids. And I have dealt with the consequences of that, some good, others not so much. While others went to the left, I went right. While others got engaged, I was too busy chasing the horizon to notice. While others got married, I declined the invite because I was on the road. While others had kids, I ran further away that reality.
This isn’t to persecute the domesticated life. Not at all. It just wasn’t for me, more so as I keep peeling away the layers of my own being through trial and tribulation, those endless conversations and adventures into the unknown. And yet, there’s always a price to pay. You’ve never known the truly deafening silence of a bachelor Christmas until you’re the new guy in a place some 1,002 miles from any and all things familiar, peering out the window onto a quiet town, a cold six-pack and day old deli sandwich in the fridge awaiting your company.
Life is evolution. And part of that evolution — of you, of the world around you — is that simple truth that you make choices, and you live with those choices, no matter how hard of a pill that is to swallow. I’ve lost just as many good women in my life as I have gained a sense of self from solo treks around this all too big, beautiful and haphazard world. I’ve put aside many things in exchange for what I thought was a good trade at the time. I don’t own much, but I do own my dreams, which is that small flame within that continues to glow brighter with each passing day.
We all make choices. We all deal with the consequences. It’s how you move forward and seek the next rock to jump onto that really shows the essence of you and yours.
Life is beautiful, grasp for it, y’all.
1 No Name Sports Pub (Sylva) will host Viva Le Vox w/Mike Farrington (swing/blues) at 9:30 Friday, Sept. 9.
2 The work of 50 Cherokee artists is on view in “Of Land & Spirit: Contemporary Art Today” at The Bascom Center in Highlands through Sunday, Sept. 18.
3 The Haywood Spay/Neuter fundraiser “Sips for Snips” will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 15, at Bosu’s Wine Shop in Waynesville.
4 A cornhole tournament to benefit Big Brothers, Big Sisters will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 17, at BearWaters Brewing in Waynesville.
5 Innovation Brewing (Sylva) will host The Breedlove Brothers (Americana/country) at 8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 17.