The Mountain

Two decades. 

Twenty years. 

7,300 days. 175,200 hours. 10,512,000 minutes. 

Time is great at playing this terrible trick on us. When you start counting minutes in the tens of millions, time seems to drag. 

When you count it in decades, saying “time flies” seems like a comical understatement. 

After two children, it feels like time is an icy mountain face that I am sliding down making futile attempts to slow myself. 

Looking back up the mountain, shrinking in the distance is me awkwardly asking my wife to “go out” with me and her saying yes, not knowing that she was grabbing my hand and jumping off the side of the mountain with me. 

We have been through it all. Junior high, high school, college, our 20’s, two kids, and half of our thirties. 

What the hell happened? 

Just yesterday we were sneaking kisses in the hallway and talking on the phone until one of us fell asleep. We woke up married in a house with two kids that we are scrambling to get ready for daycare. 

The most brutal truth that I have come to know in this life is that the days are long and the years are short. 

My birthday has become so important to me over these two decades. Today it reached a pinnacle when I heard my 3-year-old run into the bedroom, climb into bed, and burrow into me as though it was impossible for him to get close enough to me.

“Daddy, I had a bad dream…”

My gorgeous wife got up and made me a cinnamon roll and orange juice that I shared with my son at the counter.

I walked into the nursery to find my 8-month-old girl standing and smiling at me. 

I felt a strong pang in my chest.

Long gone are the days of wondering what I will get for my birthday, today I realized that all I need to do is open my eyes.

I’m going to do my best to keep them open because I know the next time I blink another two decades will have passed me by.  

Happy birthday to me but, more importantly, thank you to my wife for jumping off the mountain with me October 8, 1999 at 8:05 AM. 

Cheers. 

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The Intruder

A flush of adrenaline rolls to my legs and they start to tingle. My heart rate speeds up so that I can no longer feel individual beats coming from my chest.
 
I am 33 years old, a suspicious thump in the night shouldn’t cause so much fear. Unfortunately, bravery has never been a trait of mine.
 
In the rational section of my brain, I know that the sound came from outside the house. A car door slamming in the street or a neighbor slamming their front door.
 
Tonight, I have no room for rational thoughts as I sit listening to Stephen King’s It audiobook.  I look to my wife and see that she is fast asleep.
 
It’s nothing, obviously. Everything is fine.
 
A couple of minutes pass with no mysterious noises. Relieved, I laugh at myself and how I am letting Mr. King get the best of me.
 
Then, as I am listening to Bill Denbrough and Richie Tozier escape the maniacal clown that has disguised itself as a werewolf, I can hear the bass of two voices talking downstairs in our living room.
 
I pause the audiobook and freeze, doing my best not to make a noise. It’s difficult to make out the voices over my heartbeat pounding in my ears.
 
Somebody is in my house.

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The Talk

They sat on a bench on the bike path overlooking the river. The late afternoon sun lazily making its descent to the horizon. The leaves rustling in the late fall breeze.

In days past they would have sat holding hands, or at least making some sort of physical contact. Lately, they didn’t mind the space. As a matter of fact, they felt more comfortable with a bit of separation.

They looked at each other at the same time and knew that they were both thinking the same depressing thought. They sighed.

She broke the silence first, as usual.

“How did we get here?”

“Seriously? We parked the car at the park, then followed the path to the bench” he said.

Another one of his ill-timed jokes that she used to find adorable, but now she found irritating.

“Sorry, I just don’t know how you want me to answer that.”

“I want you to be honest. I want you to tell me how you feel. Why do I always have to drag things out of you?” Continue reading

Chunking

Our brains get lazy and let us down all the time. Mostly, this happens when we are doing something innocuous. We let our brain take over and go into autopilot.
This is called chunking. It’s when something has become so routine that our brain lumps it into one task.
For example, going to work. Do you ever get to work and think, how did I get here?
Our brains work to be as efficient as possible. You aren’t actively thinking about opening your car door, backing out of the garage, shutting the garage door, etc.
99% of the time, this results in arriving at work with no issue. But, if there is a slight change in your normal routine it can lead to a mistake. For example, you get in your car and then remember that it is garbage day. You get out of your car, roll the garbage can to the street, get back in the car, and drive away completely oblivious to the fact that you left your garage door open (not that this happened to me today, this is a fictional situation that I came up with).
Something like this has happened to all of us at some point. Our brains skip a beat and pick things back up at step 10 rather than step 9 during some ritual. It is irritating, but it is usually harmless.
So, why are you reading this? Well, sometimes chunking can lead to an embarrassing moment. Like this one…

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