This must be the place
Part Two: The Wedding
As I adjusted my tie in the hotel mirror, I noticed more grey hairs in my beard.
The face looking back at me seemed older than I remembered. The green eyes and smile were familiar, but where did these extra wrinkles come from? Was I not supposed to laugh so much in my 20s? I stood to the side, still no signs of a beer gut. Thank the lord I still have a deep love of running and being active. I took another sip of my adult beverage and saluted the person staring back at me. All and all, still holding strong at 30, eh old sport?
I stepped out of the room and into the daylong wedding festivities. One of my best friends of all time and space, my collegiate chum Dan was getting hitched. Bluebird skies hung high and glorious over North Andover, Massachusetts. Over 950 miles from my current home in Waynesville, seemingly twice the distance emotionally from those who knew me best during my tenure at Quinnipiac University.
Eight years since graduation, and in that time conversations have shifted from midnight shenanigans, early career opportunities, one-night stands and exotic vacations to job promotions, health insurance, new homeowners and newborn babies. The shift wasn’t overnight, rather a gradual evolution as hairlines receded, girlfriends became wives and living paycheck to paycheck became a robust 401k with generous retirement benefits.
The shift wasn’t abrupt for those I encountered from my past during the wedding weekend. But, for me, it was. When did we become so old, so adult? Where was I when all of this went down, when all of this came to pass?
Now, I’ll be the first to admit, I’ve always avoided “domestication.” Sure, to each their own, and yes, there’s nothing wrong with settling down and creating a stable existence for yourself. But, for me, the idea of a wife and kids is the sound of nails on a chalkboard that has only gotten louder the closer I got to turning 30. And I find that an odd sentiment within my soul, seeing as when I was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at 18, I could almost guarantee you that a significant other and rugrats would be on my immediate to-do list when college transitioned into adulthood.
So, what happened? Well, I took off, physically and emotionally. After high school in rural Upstate New York, it was college 300 miles away in Connecticut. After college, it was my first job 2,300 miles away in Idaho. From there, it has been endless years of wandering and exploring every corner of America. I’ve been on the run so long and so fast that I’ve lost track of time, to which when I finally touch back down to some sort of reality from my past, encounters feel more alien than familiar, experiences seem more dreamlike than actual consciousness.
It’s not a Peter Pan mentality. Rather, I find my destiny is being out here, in the cosmic abyss of the world, in pursuit of things known and unknown. And while sitting in that wedding crowd, watching a dear friend tie the knot, I was in awe of the moment. Time sure had flown by since our academic years of chaos and uncertain futures. He was well on his way into the first chapter of his life together with his bride — one could only be so lucky to find what he’s found in her.
There I sat, too, headlong into my own endeavors, wherever they may take me. I suppose the beauty of that is my future is yet to be determined. What makes time valuable is though it is fleeting, it is also an unexpected surprise as it unfolds in front of you to behold and embrace. Chance and opportunity are yours to seize each and every morning you awaken into a new day.
I often think I have too much left to see, experience and joyously exploit before I could ever entertain the idea of “domestication.” For a while I wondered if something was “wrong” with me for not wanting a wife and kids. But lately, I’ve realized we all have our own victories in our own time. Go with what makes you comfortable, but also don’t be afraid of reaching for the next highest bar in your aspirations. You’ll be happy to know once you let go of your fears and doubts is the exact moment when clarity is discovered within.
A smile rolled across my face watching Dan and his wife dance the night away during the reception. He was happy. She was happy. And, I was happy, come hell or high water. I knew deep down I’m pushing further down that path of adventure and achievement I’d set out on once those college degrees were placed in my hands, my eyes aimed squarely towards the horizon of my intent and purpose.
Life is beautiful, grasp for it, y’all.
Editor’s Note: “Part One: The Ride” was published in last week’s issue of The Smoky Mountain News.
1 Water’n Hole Bar & Grille (Waynesville) will have Dirty Soul Revival (hard rock/blues) at 9:30 p.m. June 5.
2 The Andrews Brewing Summer Classic disc golf tournament will be held June 13 at the Heritage Park Golf Course in Andrews.
3 BearWaters Brewing (Waynesville) will have The Get Right Band (funk/soul) at 8 p.m. June 13.
4 Catch the Spirit of Appalachia will be hosting a day of Western North Carolina culture from 2 to 5 p.m. June 14 at the Folkmoot USA Fellowship Hall in Waynesville.
5 The Strand at 38 Main (Waynesville) will have The Snyder Family Band (bluegrass/folk) at 7:45 p.m. June 13.