It’s ok. I wouldn’t remember me either.

Blogged here: thoughts about my trip, my career, my family, my friends, and a brief note about my future son.

Walking through the airport, my 5-year-old niece runs around me in true cyclonic fashion, whirling around my legs and caroming like a torrent through the halls.  I pick her up by the hands with one of my own and lift her high over my head.  Except I can’t press her up and down like I used to.  She gets stuck halfway up.  Either she’s grown heavier or myself weaker, or both.  I set her down.

We play a game that I take credit for inventing at family reunions, at least those without swimming pools, called “friddle,” a mix of frisbee and monkey-in-middle, except the “monkey” is a collection of 7 or so young kids (between the ages of 6 and 10) and the keepers-away are two or three 20/30-somethings.  The adults dominate the game for a while, but the kids have the stamina advantage, and myself and my older cousins find ourselves huffing and puffing and trying to run down the ill-begotten frisbees thrown by the younger cousins.  The game has no winner and no end.  I leap in the air and yank another frisbee away from the nearby outstretched arms of a competitor.  “You gotta want it,” I proclaim.

There is also a significant amount of childcare involved.  Remembering my time as a kid and being humored and chastised by the adults in the group, I do my best to relate to the seemingly insignificant plights of my younger relatives.  On the other hand, when I get down to it, their little-kids dramas teach me more about life than the comments of my older and wiser relatives.  The adults have grown enough to veil themselves in a way that doesn’t inform anything.

“My childhood is the only part of my life that wasn’t, uh, overwhelmed by my childhood.”  –  Dylan Ebdus, Jonathan Lethem’s The Fortress of Solitude.

Alexis is in high school and learning to drive and date boys and gossip.  She spends the entire trip texting on her cell phone.  During the wedding reception I take it away from her.  “Spend time with your family,” I tell her, only I remember being 16 and wanting nothing to do with my family, wanting to talk to my friends and stay away from the group of people who were unable to know me as my friends knew me.  Feeling the most alienated among the people who supposedly knew me the best.

Alec is gay, I’m convinced he is gay.  His older step-sister despises him and calls him a fag.  He fights this level of torment by being bossy and difficult to talk to.  He’s at that age where he’s young enough to misbehave but supposedly old enough to know better, so he frequently gets disciplined.  He’s chubbier and not as good at sports as his younger brother.  He lashes out against all of these social pressures by being incredibly moody, sometimes dying to please his elders and other times saying things marked with such arrogance and impatience that I’m convinced he wants attention.  But when Pierce is around, Alec changes.  Pierce is so cute and well-behaved he might be a cartoon, with the largest eyes of any person I’ve ever seen in real life.

Is it ironic that two people have come together to be part of a family out of similar life situations and similar temperaments and end up hating each other, and by coincidence have almost the same name?

I pace around the rental house I’m staying in and twist my arm around, flexing my shoulder, feeling significant pain when bending it backwards.

It is the first time I’ve ever felt old.

There is a wedding and a birthday party, both catered, both drowned in different types of alcohol.  Manhattans, Lemon Drops, Cosmopolitans, Champagne, Labatt Blue, Miller Lite, Tennessee Violets, River Rats, Budweiser, Blue Moon.  At one point I’m videotaping part of the birthday party and I think I hear someone say some inane comment, and then, checking the tape later, I realize it was I who said it.  Yet I never truly feel drunk, just weighed down by the event and my surroundings.

I anticipated being asked several thousand times what I was going to do with my life now that I was out of college.  So I came up with several thousand answers.  A bartender.  An astronaut.  A security guard.  A rapist.  But I couldn’t escape the fact that it was easier to come up with those answers than any sort of formative expression of what I could do professionally.

Then, just yesterday, there was a wedding between Greg and Karla, which, since others will (and, from the ceremony, already did) have an adequate number of loftily praiseful words about them, I will simply say was quite expected.  Although I tend to consider myself a romantic idealist, every wedding I’ve been to this summer has left me with the sad feelings that it could never last.  Fortunately for Greg and Karla, I am far from the final authority on this, and there are plenty of people who know them better than me.  Perhaps I am simply projecting myself upon all of them.

I can’t tell anymore if I’m lashing out at Trevor or if he’s lashing out at me, except to say that our relationship has become an oscillation between hatred and longing.  My inability to be anything worthwhile to him has become emblematic to me of my inability to find success in life, and it would seem stupid to say that the two were interconnected except for the fact that neither my relationship with him nor my professional career have ever been remotely satisfying to either of us.  If there is a divine force who cares solely about my romantic and professional exploits (and nothing else), he could be pushing me toward major life changes.  I, on the other hand, feel that it shows the bonds tethering me to this existence I’ve built for myself here are fraying tenuously (save for one major knot in Jen) and have felt increasing internal pressure to disappear into a place where maybe I could start over.  It’s easy to talk about and brilliantly scary and inaccessible, but the dream is the only thing keeping me going.

Also, it was nice to see Greg Larson.  Greg said something stupid that would have made me roll my eyes had anyone else said it, but after we talked about it for a moment I started laughing so hard I was crying, and I almost giggled loudly enough to ruin the wedding.  I’m increasingly convinced that, despite our differences, Greg and I are kindred spirits.

I’ve always thought that if I had a son I’d name him David Schaefer.  Then, at the reunion, I was reminded that most men in our family have had the middle name of Preston, after I believe a great-great grandfather.  My uncle Marv is Marvin Preston House and my cousin Michael is Michael Marvin Preston House.  I guess the name Marvin got tied up in there as well but Preston is more common amongst the family names.  Sadly, I don’t much like the flow of David Preston Schaefer, but I do like the initials DPS.

There will be a post about The Dark Knight.

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