Monday, August 15, 2011

25 years to life

I could say it’s Facebook’s fault. But the past two decades have brought such a tide of technology it’s hard to place the blame anywhere but the Earth spinning round the sun to mark the passage of time. Back then there were payphones on every corner. I used them too. Sometimes even to call a movie theatre to check showtimes after looking up the number in the phonebook. I used to go to movies about once a week back then. The world was different, so was I. Now that my college has a special little alumni group on Facebook I can look at old posts and pictures. So it’s my fault for joining the group and then going on and looking at the pictures. And fine I won’t say it’s
Facebook’s fault. It’s mine for looking back in time and remembering what a mook I was.

I came into college after being something of a social outcast from most of my childhood and adolescence. Having a fresh start in a completely new world meant I wasn’t that much of a loner anymore. But it didn’t change who I was. And over the four years my character flaws burgeoned. I was very selfish. If anyone needed a favor like a ride they learned to present what was in it for me before they asked. I had a flippancy that I think some people liked. If it was too beautiful an afternoon to attend class I would encourage friends to join me on a road trip to Laie on the North Shore of Oahu where the last A&W restaurant remained. A scenic drive and ice cold root beer was followed by a can of Coca-Cola to brandish while circling the campus of Brigham Young University. That flippancy was just a disregard of the future. I lived in the moment and enjoyed it. Of course I could also become very moody and throw a pity party with myself sitting alone in a dark room listening to Pink Floyd smoking a pack of cigarettes.

I’m sure that a lot of my fellow college alumni have changed too. But I’m not proud of who I was. In the same way, if my old self met my present self the old David would call me now quite a square who sold out the idea of that carefree king of the road. I’m a conservative, domesticated father and husband. I loathed that idea 25 years ago. But I am this way and have never felt better about myself. And it didn’t come easy. The past 25 years have been a struggle to arrive in this condition and I never would have made it without help.

Today my son starts classes at the local community college. Maybe as a father I am blind to character flaws in him. I mostly see the little boy I carried on my shoulders, pushed on the swing and watched trains with only now he’s onstage at church playing with the praise band. This is no judgment on my parents or his, but I like to think that he’s a much better person today at 17 that I was at the same age. I hope he never has to deal with some of the things I had to in young adulthood or parenthood. But even without painful hurdles I am confident of this: There is a good and Godly man in him.

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