When my folks moved to Georgia over the Christmas/New Year’s holidays of 1987 and 1988, we’d only been living in Chattanooga, Tennessee for the previous 9 months. I felt like a complete fish out of water for the first 6 to 8 weeks. It was middle school, I was this lanky kid who’d just lived through a strange move from the midwest to the mountains and I could still hear the Tennessee twang in my ears when folks spoke, even though my classmates were all transplants as well. The styles were all different, the weather seemed similar (that was the Winter of ice and snow and freezing rain) – very Michigan-like and not at all Atlantan – but that was about it. I thought of myself as an outsider, an other, even though hindsight and retrospect tell me we were all floundering dumbasses who just wanted to belong.
Anyhow, I took a skiing class after school in January of 1988 to try and make better friends and solidify my standing in school. There was a huge tarped quarter-pipe set up in the parking lot – I think it was covered in some kind of felt or astroturf or something. Whatever it was, it didn’t behave like snow. Of course, I only found this out after our trip to North Carolina ended with me spending most of the day by myself on the bunny slope. I absolutely lost it on the bus ride home, crying into my sleeve, my head against the cold window, until two of my nascent friends and the instructor – a very nice, incredibly short wrestling coach – consoled me and tried to put things in perspective.
It was a good cry, a necessary outlet to all the rejection and confusion and pre-teen angst I was feeling but couldn’t voice to explain. It was also the defining moment of my middle school career: you cry once as a guy and you’re forever a “baby” or a “pussy” or worse. I was that guy.
I say all of this not to elicit sympathy for myself, but to attempt to explain that I’ve been here before and I really haven’t grown up that much at all. I still feel a little bit on the outside, I still struggle with the blending of my professional and personal selves, I still feel (rightly, I imagine) that a childish, emotional, rash outburst may cost me some standing in the community.
I want to start and end by saying that I’m sorry. I’m sorry most to all the people who tried their hardest to aid and comfort me: Maigh, Will, james, Molly & Sherrie and especially my wonderful wife, Jenn. I was rude and spiteful and nuclear, and I can’t apologize enough, particularly to james & Jenn, who bore the brunt of it.
I have a hard time recognizing when I’m near my limit and accepting help. That’s a near-lethal combination.
Just know that you really haven’t heard the last of me; I’m just struggling with definitions and boundaries and expectations. I want this space – I *need* this space – in order to stay sane. Losing it would be doubling down on crazy.
My main concern now is how to repair the damage I’ve done to my relationships, virtual and actual.
I want to be a better husband, father, friend, blogger, writer and worker. I want to be Wil Wheaton – with his awesome mix of the personal and professional – but I’ve got live by his credo: “Don’t be a dick.”
I pledge to try and not be a dick in the future and hope you’ll accept me even though I’ve been a dick in the past.
Watch this space. Things may change (hopefully one of them will be me) but the space will always be here and I think I’m just now figuring out the importance of that fact.
I’ll be blending instead of balancing, I hope.