George and Charleen

My mom and dad

My mom and dad

“We never know the love of a parent till we become parents ourselves.” –Henry Ward Beecher

In June of 1973 I was born to two people whom I love dearly.  This was to be the beginning of two of the most complicated relationships I have had to date, though none of us knew it at the time.

My parents were married on January 8th, 1972…Elvis’ birthday…or the day he died?  At any rate, Elvis reminds me of parents’ anniversary every year.  Elvis is good for little else.

I’ve never understood what drew my folks to one another.  One might read that last line and think that I am being ungrateful or indelicate, but allow me to be clear: I am so thankful for my parents, for giving me life, and providing me with a stability at home that some never enjoy.  Regardless how tough times got, my brothers and I always knew we had a warm place to live, meals to eat, and parents who loved us to their best understanding of the concept.  I only mean I’ve never understood their attraction, they’ve always seemed so different to me.  It must have been something strong because they’re still together to this day.  I have come to learn that that kind of commitment renders all hair-splitting moot.

My mom was born into a stable family.  She came late.  Her brothers and sisters were all but grown.  Her oldest niece was only one year my mother’s junior.  She was, what is known (at least in polite society) as, a change of life baby.  Mom relayed to me that this made her childhood home a very loving and secure environment.  There was never a lack of care providers between her brothers and sisters.  I believe they numbered 2 boys and 2 girls.  I’ve only met them a few times in my life, and they all seem like good, solid citizens.  As idyllic as this set-up would seem to the casual observer, it was by no means perfect.  My mother has never complained about her childhood (that I can recall), but she has said that there was an unspoken expectation to “perform”, to put the best foot forward, to fake it ’till you make it.  When I imagine the circumstances that led to my folks’ commitment to one another, I am tempted to wonder if that pressure pushed my mom toward the young trouble-maker she’d one day marry.

My dad was the oldest born son in a family that would eventually include 2 more boys and 5 girls (I think)…he was not the oldest of his siblings, he had an older sister.  I think, if one were to consult his druthers, he would like to have been born first…regardless the sacrifice.  To hear stories of dad’s youth one might think that, in a town so small, populated with so many ne’er do wells engaged in varying makings of consternation (in the estimation of local law enforcement), a deal had once been struck between the town’s founders and the devil himself.  The specific impetus for my father’s assholery is far less mysterious (my dad considers himself proudly among the ne’er do wells).  He had a need for attention that his folks were either unable or unwilling to satiate in any way that resembled: healthy.  I’ve had a few occasions to meet his parents and I can report, with confidence, that my childhood was a lot more loving than my dad’s.

As though God wanted to give us more evidence of his faithfulness…and his sense of humor, my folks found each other and made a family.  They made a difference.  They are partially to blame for who I am.  My dad’s strong work ethic, my mom’s stubbornness, my mom’s optimism, my dad’s realism, my mom’s sense of justice, my dad’s willingness to help whomever, whenever, wherever (with only the tiniest bit of complaining [generally])–all of these attributes conspired to be the foundation of the man that I am…for good, or ill.  They’re not just responsible for me and my family.  They’re also culpable (at least part so) for my 2 younger brothers who’ve made great families in their own right.  This all because two lunatics were crazy enough to think they could make a run at: “till death do us part”.  It’s hard to imagine.  But if imagining it were easy, there’d be no reason left to try it.

Happy Anniversary George and Charleen.

Breaking Hard is Up to Do part 1: Breaking Hard

The Garden Island...like the New Jersey of the archipelago...

The Garden Island…like the New Jersey of the archipelago…

I wouldn’t mind the rat race – if the rats would lose once in a while.” –Tom Wilson (creator of Ziggy)

My house is short for time.  We are two weeks from putting our house on the market (a month later than I anticipated).  This mark seemed like an eternity two months ago.  But it was no eternity…in the midst of erosion-paced days and lightning-quick years the two months passed in no time.  And now shit has gotten very very real around here.  It is quite likely that my family and I are about two months from moving to Kaua’i.  Two months?  That’s like an eternity from now. 

The house has been a whirlwind of activity lately.  I haven’t been writing a lot of new content; I’ve been dealing with the to-do list around the house.  I plan to journal here a bit about the days leading up to the big move.  I know I have only tread lightly on the topic of this move here, but what do you say concerning something you’re trying to avoid thinking about.  Not that I haven’t thought about it.  It’s more that I’m always thinking about it but never acknowledging it.  The whole thing is so over-whelming.  Change is something for which I–simultaneously–clamor and fear, a paradox that a young Alanis would call ironic…and maybe it is, in Canada. 

The nut of it is: my family and I are selling our house and a large chunk of our earthly possessions (hopefully a large chunk), and moving down to The Garden Island to help start a church community with our longtime friends Jeff and Kim Adams.  We are doing this with some of our other longtime friends (I think nine-ish families in all); several of whom have already relocated to the island.  While it is exciting to be a part of something to which I believe God has called us, it is also stressful and scary.  Maybe it sounds arrogant that I believe God is calling me to something.  I don’t mean to be arrogant.  I believe the call of God has more to do with His story than the qualities of those called.  My greatest qualification in this endeavor is mere willingness.  Were willingness a virtue, I’d be sainted.  You know…if I were into that sort of thing.  My willingness is not really very pure.  It is, in large part, born of my own lack of imagination, or an insatiable appetite there for. 

On top of the move, this week has its own excitement.  My wife and I are celebrating our 19th year of marriage today, June the 4th.  Saturday, up-coming, I’ll be celebrating 40 years of being alive.  My 4 year old daughter will be starting in her first pre-school class, set to last the duration of June.  And my 5 year old daughter will be participating in her first “Field Day” at school.  This Field Day thing has given me reason for anxiety.  I hated Field Day.  I have the physique and natural athletic ability of a person who hates Field Day.  Maychance my daughter will do better in these sorts of endeavors…it would be impossible to do worse.  I don’t know how they do the whole rewarding superior athleticism thing these days.  In my day, it seemed humiliating.  Just a lot of other kids with ribbons.  I hope that if this is the case for Lu she at least has a better perspective about it than I did as a kid. 

I’ve turned into one of those annoying parents that enjoys kids sports where-in no one pays much attention to the score.  Not because I think the presence of winners has the potential to hurt the feelings of the losers (of which I generally was one), but because it sends the message that Field Day or Little League or Jr. Soccer actually matters.  When I was a kid, I thought that a red or a(maychance to dream)blue ribbon was an identifiable achievement about which I could brag through the summer.  I found out that it was much ado about nothing.  But I digress…we are a society who places a high importance upon victory even when it is symbolic.  And who knows, maybe Field Day is one of those things that teaches us a skill-set uniquely tuned to the pitch of the rat-race.  I learned much about the rat-race from my Field Day experience.  Chiefly: Fuck the rat-race.  It would be a proud moment in my life should my daughter learn a similar lesson.  But I digress even further…

So here it is post number one in a series documenting my break-up with the most enduring love of my life…The Olympic Peninsula.  I never imagined I would actually leave this place.  Now I can’t imagine staying.  Not because I don’t like it here, but because I don’t think I’m supposed to stay.  Great stories thrive on tension…