I haven’t written in many months.
In the beginning of the pandemic, I wondered if I would be inspired to write many of my usual old tales, especially since I had to stay home with my 7-year-old son (and still staying home with him) for remote learning. It turned out that I am not inspired anymore. I had plenty of opportunities to create something new, but I chose to do other things. I felt that my usually light and pleasant posts had no place in a world filled with heavy feelings of fear, distrust, anger, and sadness.
As of this writing, I had to resign my position at my job of 4 1/2 years, because I have to stay home with my son. My wife tested positive for COVID-19, and was sick for a few days. My son and I didn’t get tested, but we stayed home for 11 days with her. He and I did not show any symptoms, even though we were around her all the time. For as much strain this pandemic has put on my family, I realize that it could be much worse for us. My wife has a job in the medical field; at least she is still working five days a week.
Hopefully in 2021, I can muster some swell musings to share on here. Sadly (it seems), many of the bloggers I’ve followed over the years on WordPress have given up on writing. I will never lose the love for writing, but if I wish to create “light reads” for people around the world to discover, then my mind must not be heavy with thought.
During my time away from here, I did a lot of reflecting on my own life, while navigating this bizarre time we continuously exist in. In the end, this thinking (accompanied with many beers and mixed drinks on my back deck in the summer months) actually created a blog post. It can be read below.
Take care to everyone who is reading this. I hope you can find joy in something as much as I find in writing. This writing hobby of mine has connected me with many people that I would have never known existed. I simply wanted a place to write down old tales before I forgot them, and it’s become much more than that. It’s a great feeling when people discover my posts each day from around the world–and all of this hasn’t cost me one dime. Never stop evolving.
I am ready for a change.
Even before the chaotic year of 2020 began, I could sense an uneasiness in myself. Another personal metamorphosis is on the horizon, but it has not come to fruition. As I march further into my 40s, I look back and realize that the person I was before age 28 is essentially no more.
About every seven to eight years, a new cycle of events begin in my life, while another series of events come to an end. It mirrors the feeling I get when I read chapters in a book. As a story continues to be read, the characters, setting, and plot evolve from the first chapter.
As of today, I can see my life broken up into six chapters. They all have their own version of me. Certainly, remnants of myself from earlier chapters are still a part of who I am now, but the person in chapters five and six reflect the current version of me.
Everybody has a story. For the majority of us, our story goes unwritten.
CHAPTER 1 — THE BEGINNING (1976-1983)
In the early years, everything I said, did, and ate was directly influenced by my family. The memories from this time are mostly forgotten, except for a few dozen experiences that I enjoyed as a kid. The steel industry collapse didn’t hit Pittsburgh hard until 1983, so I vividly remember the old mills that have since disappeared. I was lucky enough to have a few friends in the neighborhood to play with, and I still talk to two of them to this day.
My younger brother and I had fun in our little bubble. We started to make new friends when we started going to the local Catholic elementary school, and our social influence started to evolve beyond our street. In the middle of 1983, our parents informed us that we were going to be both big brothers in 1984.
CHAPTER 2 — GROWING TALL & GROWING AWKWARD (1984-1990)
After my baby brother was born, life became more complicated than I could have imagined. I started liking girls, but the girls didn’t like me. I grew seven inches in one calendar year, which probably contributed to my scoliosis. My body and my mind were causing me stress for the first time, and I had a hard time dealing with all of the adversity.
Being tall did have its advantages. I enjoyed playing basketball, which I became better at–courtesy of my newfound height. In my middle school years, I liked to walk to and from school alone. When I did this, I never had to worry about, “stranger danger”, because I looked two years older than my real age.
I started high school in 1990, which allowed dozens of new classmates to remind me of how socially weird I was. I was determined to find friends that I could relate to, without changing the identity of who I was at the time.
CHAPTER 3 — THE CLUMSY ERA (1991-1996)
After a disastrous freshmen year, I found a group of friends, but still no love from the girls. My poor acne might have had a role in their decision making process, but I was still socially awkward. In my senior year, the acne cleared up, and I started up a serious relationship with a girl. I graduated in 1994, she in 1996.
We stayed together as I started junior college, and she commuted to her college north of town. We didn’t see each other as much as we did in high school, but at least in my eyes, I was still happy in the relationship.
I started working part-time at a few retail stores in the suburbs for the first time. I never really knew how different I was until I became friends with people outside of the city. I guess the kids in suburbia thought I was cool, because I started hanging out with them as well. A new cluster of friends for an awkward city kid that still lived at home.
CHAPTER 4 — THE STRESSFUL ERA (1997-2004)
Living at my boyhood home became crowded and unbearable. My high school girlfriend and I started growing apart. Instead of breaking it off completely, we tried to save the relationship…three times. In 1999, I got an apartment on my own, and I asked a girl I was seeing if she wanted to move in with me, and she said no. She decided to stay with her boyfriend (Yes, I was planning on stealing away another man’s girlfriend). Shortly after this plan fell through, my high school girlfriend decided to move in. It lasted seven months, and I wasn’t trying for a fourth time to keep her around.
Going to college and working full-time left hardly any free time. In 2000, I started another relationship that lasted 3 1/2 years. Since I was so busy running from place to place, I failed to notice that this particular relationship should have not lasted beyond one year. She only lived with me for the last eight months, and it was eight months too long.
I regret that I wasted so much time trying to make two different relationships work, when it was clear that saving them wasn’t a real possibility. I often look back on these eight years and think of, “What could have been….”.
In 2003, I flipped my priorities, going to school full-time and working part-time. I didn’t date, and I finished school in 2004. That summer, I started dating my wife, which changed the trajectory of the next chapter in my life.
CHAPTER 5 — STABILITY & CONTENT (2005-2012)
In 2005, my wife and I moved in together. I had a stable job as a security guard, which I parlayed into a campus safety officer position north of Pittsburgh when my wife decided to attain her doctorate at Slippery Rock. We moved back to Pittsburgh in 2008, she started her career, while I hopped from terrible job to terrible job during an economic downturn. My work life sucked, but I was otherwise happy.
In late 2010, I landed a stable job as the “warehouse guy” for a local medical equipment company. We rented a nice, quiet townhome for 4 years, and we bought a house at the end of 2011. My warehouse job became even more enjoyable in 2012, and during this time, we finally got settled into our new home. On the final day of 2012, my wife found out that she was pregnant.
CHAPTER 6 — FAMILY LIFE, FATIGUE, & FAILURE (2013-Present)
2013 started out fine for my wife and I. Her pregnancy was going well, our jobs were going along alright, and home life was good. Then, within a span of 50 days, my father unexpectedly died, our house almost caught fire from a bolt of lightning, and our son was born. Her pregnancy was a little rough, so she experienced joy and a lot of pain. Our son has never slept as much as other kids, so his first two years wore us out a lot more than what we expected. Including naps, he only averaged about 10 hours of sleep per day (even now at age 7, it’s rare for him to sleep more than 9 hours).
When he started daycare in 2015, my director wanted me to continue staying longer at work without prior notice, but I could not. It was my responsibility to pick my son up each day. For him to be kept there beyond the 9 hours he was already spending there was not acceptable to me. In October 2015, I was asked to leave my warehouse job of 5 years, presumably due to me becoming an unreliable employee.
My self-esteem died during unemployment. I had to find work that fit around my son’s schedule, and it was difficult. I got hired as a groundskeeper at a local university, despite having no formal experience in the field. The job fit around my son’s schedule, and I literally learned something new on the job almost every day. The directors took a chance on me, and I am forever grateful that they did. I didn’t get paid much, but I was able to go get my son out of daycare every day (and later on, off of the school bus every day). The arrangement was perfect for my family…until COVID-19 happened.
In 2020, I only worked a full-time equivalent of six months out of the year. Since I had to stay home with my son for his remote learning, I worked part-time from March to early June, worked full-time in the summer, took a 12-week government aid deal while I stayed home in the fall, and was forced to resign when my 12 weeks was up. There is no definite day when my son will return to school full-time, so I remain at home, hoping for my unemployment checks to cash for at least six months. I thought about working different shifts someplace, but my son will never let me sleep during the day with him. If he was at school, it wouldn’t be a problem….
CHAPTER 7? — (Does it begin in 2021?)
Going into 2021, I certainly have an entirely new outlook on life. In my despair throughout 2020, I made some healthy changes to my life–both mentally and physically. I have kept a positive attitude, kept at least 20 pounds off since last year (It was 25 pounds before Thanksgiving and Christmas!), and I’ll eventually have a new job. It seems like a new chapter in my life is destined to begin.
But if chapter 6 continues on, that’s fine too. Maybe I’ll be 35 pounds lighter at the end of this chapter.