Not to sound like all those athletes who after winning the big game pronounce that no one thought they could do it, that the entire world was against them but they believed in themselves and look who got the last laugh... well maybe to sound exactly like them, but I know it's difficult for some to believe I wasn't always the winsome, suave guy you see today. You need not go back much further than thirteen years ago to this very week to have seen quite the difference.
Back then, most people would have believed the best I could end up being would be something like a presidential pre-pretzel chewer rather than a city homeowner, who has quite the collection of bobblehead dolls, a drooling kitty, and who continues to be privileged to be the friend to the most beautiful woman in the world. So what changed? Something rather significant happened that we need not go into detail here (if you must know read the newsletter Vol. 1 No. 1 to Vol. 11 No. 14). Suffice it to say that though I haven't been quite the same since, it changed things in such a profound way that I'll never be quite the same again.
Prior to this "thing" we're not going to talk about there was a period that was like being on a bus going over 50 miles per hour (down a dead end street to boot) rigged so that if it drops below that speed, the whole thing blows up. Fortunately an emergency driver emerged who, not quite being properly equipped having her license recently revoked, somehow manages to steer things right and saves the day.
The lesson one might take away from the experience is how dangerous things can be (even if we all can't agree on the definition of a terrorist we all might be able to agree on what terror feels like) and end up shell shocked, absorbing too much and withdrawing into a shell of a former self. But another lesson that might eventually sink in is that there is a spirit (not necessarily our own) that knows what it is to be beat up yet is still able to keep the chin up and keep bouncing back by realizing that we are all ultimately here to feel that spirit and share it with others. Or in other words (and other times) forever seeing the soothing wonderful head boppin hair swirling of one who knows enough to check with the sun, carry a compass to help you along, knows that your feet are going to be on the ground and that your head is there to move you around.
Thirteen years later I sometimes slip and forget about what I remember. About a year ago I got a call from an organization offering magazine discounts in return for a contribution to the American Cancer Society. I usually hang up on telemarketers but even though contributing towards cancer research may feel like too little too late, it is something I'll probably do from here on out. The phone solicitor read off a list of magazines I could get and I had a difficult time picking out one I might actually read. Finally just to get off the phone I agreed to a subscription to Biography published by the A&E cable network with a show with the same name.
Issue after issue arrived and I glanced through them but rarely read much. Then last month's issue arrived and it had Sandra Bullock on the cover. Unfortunately my copy arrived all ripped up, a victim of a defective postal handling. The one issue I would no doubt have kept in a special place was a tattered mishap. I took it harder than I probably should have if I was a normal human being.
Fortunately to offset the blow I discovered a symbolic convenience. A few weeks after I bought my house, which has two entrances/exits- one in the kitchen and one in the living room- I broke the doorknob on the kitchen door. Thus whenever I enter or leave my house I have to walk all the way around to the front door. It's a bit of an inconvenience but not one that has motivated me to fix the doorknob. A friend, a recent home buyer, got on my case about this. And while not exactly addressing her point of contention I did start using the side door on occasion. For some reason it never occurred to me that I could easily enter the house because it requires pushing the door open and thus a doorknob isn't necessary in the maneuver. Exiting however requires pulling the door shut, a difficulty without a functional knob.
Rediscovering this new way into my house seemed to be a metaphor to getting out of a mess or looking at things in a different manner. And in the end I think that makes for a better cliche than the woebegone athlete example a tired lad might use to write about a quiet little anniversary celebration.