Scrapbook

I thought a good night’s sleep – in my own bed instead of on an inflatable Coleman mattress – would help clear the fog that rolled in over the lengthy holiday weekend. Not the sated and soothing sort of grogginess the media likes to blame on gluttonous tryptophan intake. Rather, a disconcerting unease that comes with seeing a situation clearly for the first time . . . an acknowledgement of powerlessness, where circumstances and consequences are out of reach, not in your control, but weigh heavy nonetheless.

Alas, I am mistaken. And, for the time being, at a loss for words.

So I invite you to join me as I disconnect a bit and take a stroll through the tattered pages of my scrapbook . . .

Me, pre-Unibrow. Whatever I’m looking at must have been simply amazing . . .

May 31, 1991. Bemidji, Minnesota. Wedding rehearsal dinner. Were I a guest on This Is Your Life, these are some of the folks I’d like to see Ralph Edwards pull out of the wings. Especially that little guy on the left. He came to stay with us for a week after the wedding, and a conscientious neighbor confused him for Jacob Wetterling. It’s the only time in my life police investigators have knocked on my door . . .

Blurry. But not the memories. A litter of puppies that came too soon. A shallow hole dug near the driveway. Frantically dousing them with water from a glass, hoping they’d wake up. Crying . . .

Yeah, I earned all those. Worked my ass off to earn my Eagle Scout rank before I turned sixteen. How the hell I managed to get my Fishing merit badge is beyond me . . .

Funny. How a smile can say more than any word. A smile is a peak that says things are alright for the time being. Or maybe his hands were cold. A tickle spot, caressed. A smile can light the world . . .

Have you noticed? My right ear sorta leans forward and sticks out a bit. Even before my sisters found yanking on it to be so much fun. And I would kill to own a shirt like that again . . .

Thanksgiving, 1984. Sauk Village, Illinois. Big mistake, putting that plate of heat-n-serve rolls so close. My dad built that table. It weighed roughly the same as a Pinto and barely fit into the dining room. We had to use extreme caution because the legs weren’t quite finished and were attached somewhat provisionally. Amazing how something so incomplete and wobbly can carry the day . . .

Spring, 1987. I’ve been staring at this one for five minutes now and can’t come up with a single thing that I feel like sharing. Such is the weight of it all . . .

So I’ll leave you with this one. When all else leaves you speechless, there is still football. Roger Staubach had way cool hair, and Danny White was the hero waiting in the wings. It’s just a shame they never could figure out how to beat Terry Bradshaw and the Pittsburgh Steelers. We hated that man . . .

[insert ominous thudding noise as I slam the cover closed and prepare to face the week ahead]

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16 thoughts on “Scrapbook

  1. I’ve been told, ‘You can’t be pissed and powerless at the same time.’ And I disagree. Looks like you’re feeling the weight of it well. Especially by exposing yourself and readers to that awesome shirt and vest. I am SO shopping for that!

  2. “Rather, a disconcerting unease that comes with seeing a situation clearly for the first time . . . an acknowledgement of powerlessness, where circumstances and consequences are out of reach, not in your control, but weigh heavy nonetheless.”

    You have no idea how much this captures some of my feelings of late.

  3. Aw, man, you sound so sad and for that I am genuinely sorry.

    But I just have to tell you? These photos are simultaneously the cutest and most hilarious stuff I’ve seen for awhile. (The LOOK on your face at that Thanksgiving table…priceless.)

  4. It’s the awakening of being 40. Its perspective. Its seeing something clearly when before you were distracted. It’s acknowledging that you actually arrived where you were going and had time to put your backpack down, look to the left, and to the right and realize that your fellow road travelers look weary. It’s going to the carnival the morning after and seeing the detritus of he night before. It’s a dry car after it gleamed in the wet rain. It’s seeing the worst when you really want what’s best.

    Better not to look too closely.

  5. And honest to goodness, i’m sorry, but I had to laugh at the Jacob Wetterling reference. i’m sorry – it’s surely a sin – and I am not making light of it…

    But the resemblance is THERE man. For sure.

  6. I’m sure you were looking at the same squeaky toy the photographer had with him when he took my son’s picture because he has the same look and eager smile!

  7. I’m not sure if I missed something or not, but I really hate that feeling, too. That whole, out of your control but not out of your anxiety radius stuff. Whatever it is, remember life works out and goes on whether we’re ready for it or not. That’s just the way it is.

    And you were the absolute cutest baby! Those eyes!! Wow!

  8. ” Amazing how something so incomplete and wobbly can carry the day . . .” Wow, these days I feel like that pretty much sums up the way I’ve been living. That was weighty, for me.

    (And? You were an ADORABLE child. Wonky ear and all. I’d give two teeth for that patterned shirt. I’d make my son wear it. He’d hate me. But I’d love it.)

  9. That’s a lot of frickin’ badges. I was a boy scout drop out. Kudos, sir.

    I just finally found my old photo album in one of our boxes, I may take this as inspiration!

  10. An update: My apologies for being so morose and vague in this post. Suffice it to say that my visit with relatives over the Thanksgiving holiday had more than a few down moments. People who love each other are tearing each other apart. Words are spoken with a bitterness that is tangible, or simply left unsaid and allowed to turn the heart black. And the hard part is that I am not there to offer any sort of relief or perspective. Which may, after a few days of thinking about it, be a good thing. It’s sad to see it first-hand, though.

    Thank you to Dharmamama for leaving her first comment here at The Cheek. Your blog is a pleasure to read, and I welcome your perspective here.

    Pat – Clarity is indeed overrated. We strive for it, only to find that it often just plain sucks.

    Erika – You know you’re in my thoughts, right? Hang in there . . .

    debbeblue – Perspective can be very humbling. Thank you for your insights, and for being the only one to remember Jacob Wetterling. Hell awaits . . . !

    Thanks to all of you for your kind words of encouragement, and for digging my pictures. I brought home a bunch of old photos, so there will be more to come . . .

    Now, I’m off to study . . .

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