My first memories of childhood come from right where I am now. This location is one I fondly refer to as my basement. I watched Barney and Power Rangers and all the kidly tv shows that were offered my way. I felt the need eventually to branch out of my own house. To the one next to mine. Anne Crabtree was my best friend. She was fun. When I conjure memories of her these days I think of how your grandma looked when she was a little girl. Dark hair as curly as can be coupled with a smile that would be notable on a girl my age, Anne wasn't too different from what I imagined all girls to be. She loved Star Wars. We watched the series to death. Also she had Nickelodeon and that would have been why I used her as a friend had I known better back then. I didn't have cable back then. I had basic cable. VH1, Channel 24, was fuzzy. That was the bounds of my cable until I was like ten or so.
TV was a family activity. By family I mean my brothers and I. The Simpsons was our main course, though I only tended to watch how the Simpson family would congregate on the couch differently than last time, then I'd lose interest because they'd start using all these words and stuff. My oldest brother Andrew dominated the tv with brute force. Until approximately two years ago, he could take me AND Peder in a fight. Andrew's iron fist served as law, but when in his absence Peder would try and rule the kingdom that was known as our basement, conflict was induced. When I fought my brother Peder, the goal was not to win the fight, but rather to keep fighting. Fighting showed my disapproval and what does a punch to the face have over a open hand 100% propelled by a wrist when the goal is to cause discomfort to your opponent? Strikingly little, as I managed to piss Peder off a lot. I really miss the days when life was a perpetual power struggle.
When I wasn't at home with my awesome family, I was kickin' it gangster style with Pam Trader. Pam and I ran the back woods and the entire pathetic street that is Witherspoon Drive, and we had three amazing things in common: we were short, we liked wrestling, and we aspired everyday to be as badass as we could. She had a trampoline, which, had I been older, I would have used her for. I spent hours jumping on that thing. Trampolines are the shit. I wish I could still jump on a trampoline and not be obviously oversized. (Improv reunion show: Improv on trampolines!) All the mischief we caused created an unkillable bond between us where no matter what we have each other's backs. Even though I have no idea where her back is, or the rest of her. We've grown apart. Such is life.
Sill family vacations consisted of two teams, TEAM BITCHABOUT and TEAM SENSE. The teams would change fairly often, the only consistent member being my dad (allied with TEAM SENSE). TEAM BITCHABOUT always was ridiculous and wanted things. TEAM SENSE was always annoyed by TEAM BITCHABOUT to a degree that they themselves became formidably irritating. And if you weren't on a team, then you likely hated us and would not associate with our kind. Packers training camp was usually a destination, and Wisconsin in general. One time Montana, one time Lake Superior, but never god damn EAST (IF YOU ARE GOING TO INDIANA OR SOMETHING, TAKE ME WITH YOU). We would travel around listening to a variety of music that was never once liked by a majority of the five members in our family fighting over backseats and pining about gas stations and bathroom problems. We always complained to my parents about how weird we are but shit, looking back on it, those were the days of normality. Those were the days I look back on now with a certain fondness and can honestly claim as my hay-day.
People grew up though, and siblings did drugs. As both of my older brothers developed a habitual liking of smoking reefer, I was utterly oblivious to it and just thought they were crazy! Pot smoking is something that you really would think would affect you as a kid, but here I am, and I'm a pretty reasonable person. What really sent me off the wall was when I came home one night to see my brother Andrew having a party, wherein my other brother, Peder, was wasted. He was wasted off his ass. Older me would laugh at him and poke him until he began vomiting. Younger me was terrified. Younger me saw it as me losing a brother and gaining just another punk teen I had to associate with who bit off more than he could chew and wanted to be older than he was. Younger me knew what it looked like when someone became impure. Andrew's steady drinking was sort of cool. The kind of thing where it was like yeah, he's an idiot and has screaming bitter fights with my parents, but he's SO badass. And Peder was struggling in middle school. He got caught in seventh grade smoking pot. SEVENTH GRADE. WHAT THE FUCK. My parents were frustrated by this stupidity and did what they could to prevent it (Andrew went to Trinity Lutheran for eighth grade, against every ounce of his will).Regardless, the brothers treaded onward, never looking back upon their habits and mistakes, and always living life the way they wanted to, and for that, I respected them.
Middle school came and there was so much to do. Friends to be had, grades to be made, teachers to impress, teachers to piss off (like Mrs. Kennedy for those of you who know that joke), and girls to acknowledge. It was a very strange time, looking back on it. Definitely an age I've forgotten how to act. I was a class clown. I was smart but also committed to my jokes to the point where making someone laugh was more important than making my parents happy (with my grades) and so I allowed for their expectations to sink, purely because of my lazy ass attitude and devotion to being a slacker. For all the talk I fired off in middle school it's a wonder I didn't smoke pot then. Kids did it. Which was weird. And I talked about it a lot. Hell, I practically held it in high regard. Wouldn't you if it defined part of who your siblings were in high school? Anyway, arguments delving into teen things like drugs, girls and masturbating were always great fun. And, looking back, the cutest durned things. We never really grew up in middle school, but we learned what we had to do in order to grow up. And, all in all, that's pretty important. From free hug Friday to the new hot school couple (example-Liz Woodruff and Walker Nelson? ACTUALLY HAPPENED, once upon awhile ago) to the bickering and drama that MySpace convinced us existed, we had a lot of fun dicking around and owning a place, albeit a place that no one cared to own.
Then we became freshmen. We became entitled to have thoughts and articulate them impressively. We became obligated to bring our own shit to class and to turn assignments in on time. We became forced to think for ourselves and plan for college. At the time, planning for college seemed like a stupid idea that was perfect for anyone looking to waste their high school career. For all I know it might be, seeing as how I never did these things. Speaking of which, I should pack. Anyway, we were exposed to a hierarchy and to adults disguised as seniors, and jokesters like me disguised as role models for pricks like me when I was in ninth grade. Also we were forced to focus on school more. We were supposed to spend less time with our families and more time with our friends. It made sense, I guess, though it would have been nice to be with my family more.
I didn't drink much up to junior year. I remained a pretty cool kid. Then, one night, everything broke. All the walls in my house revealed themselves to have irreparable cracks and then they fell in. I was trapped. My dad decided his marriage wasn't making him happy and decided that it'd be best if he moved out. Hmm, it sucked. That's when my dream collapsed. All the walls came crashing in and I was forced to wake up. The air smelled differently that day. That was the day my innocence was lost. My youth was no longer my ignorant bliss. Reality reared its ugly head and spouted words in my direction, "some things don't last forever." The victim in this case was the joy that my family unit brought to me. Darn. Maybe next time that one will work out.
I kept low key. I didn't let people in on what was happening in my life. Guys, for that I'm sorry. I was pretty ashamed of the way things were going for me. I wasn't bursting at the seams to tell people "Oh hey, you know my parents!? Their love died!" Not a fun tale to tell. Even when I decided to myself that it would be okay for people to know I just didn't tell people. I couldn't manage to bring the issue up. If the situation was ever called into question, I would explain everything. But I never let it come up, because I hid myself from conversations about parents and family. It ended up being a pretty effective strategy for secrecy. Needless to say, the information was slowly released at my liking. And for that I'm grateful. I trudged on in high school. I fought for my grades because I knew they were my ticket outta here. I didn't get straight A's but man, I tried a couple times. And I even got close every now and then, but never was a sterling student or the envy of other parents (their mistake, I'm f**kin awesome).
Senior year something happened. I became existential and nostalgic, like instantly. My mind began clawing for the years I let pass by so lazily. I branched out, made new friends, joined improv, and started doing stuff beyond buying alcohol to party with and have a fairly low chance of scoring a younger girl who was intoxicated for her third time (what a sad, sad existence). I broke off the track of misplaced funny guy with a supportive but counterproductive group of friends and found my way to the people I would flourish with for the rest of the year and into the summer. Having some new friends to mess around with kept things fresh and made senior year pass by like a dream. If senior year was a dream, then this summer was a (word that doesn't exist but means greatest thing ever). I won't scrutinize. I won't give an old horse a new name (or something like that. basically we've been here before, and we know summer was the peak of my life), but damn. This summer I found that youthful freedom and coupled it with that collegiate independence. Because of this I spent every night out with people I enjoyed. I don't regret a damn thing.
This may be a little stupidly worded. And it may be eight hours late. But I haven't really slept today so it still feels like Wednesday night. And Brendan, I know you're new here kiddo but jeesh, wait until you wake up to post son. You can do it. I hope this doesn't overlap Brendan's. Not everyone needs to read it. Not many should. I don't want to read this again. I just know that I grew up in a unique situation that's made me who I am today. And I'm proud of the motherfucker I've become. And I am going into college today with my head held high and my eyes sagging low because I am proud and tired. I'm prired (priored). Anyway, shit I've gotta finish getting my things.. see you next week.
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It's been so great getting to know you. But it's time for us to grow up. I'll see you on the other side.