I’m going to write this next one for everyone out there that was born for a reason. This is the 100th day that has passed since I began this blog. It is crazy to re-read the very first post that I made, and reflect on everything that has happened since. 100 days doesn’t seem all that long in the grand scheme of things, but when you compare where I was at in my life on Day 1 and where I am at now, you would’ve thought it would be hard pressed to cram all of that into one full year. The great unknown was what I was stepping into. Now here I stand with more clarity. Clarity on where I am at myself, and the situation around me. Change is always present in everyone’s life, all of the time, but I can honestly say that I’ve come out of these past 100 days a better person. The journey included so many physical miles, yet it was the experiences that occurred while traversing them that brought about the most movement. I will honest, if you had told me “hey man keep it together, you’ll get through this and your family has a real shot at making it out of this intact”, I would have been skeptical at best. Things just seemed so bleak at times. Here we are 100 days later though, and the scars from the road are a manifestation of wisdom brought on through suffering and the trials of putting my life’s path back together, brick by brick. I’m not into all of that hokey self-trumpeting bullshit, but I will say that I am glad I kept the faith and believed in myself, and always made sure I did the right thing. That is the only reason this got me to this point, no doubt. The reason it worked out this way, and not someone else’s perverse version of what should have been, is because if you are really that pathetic of a soul to dare fuck with the life and family of a man willing to fight for it, your’e going to get slapped down like a bitch every time. As it should be. For my daughter. For my wife. For my child on the way. And for my goddamn self, the journey goes on.
Archives for September 2013
It all repeats again. Six years were spaced between my first time in Tallinn and my most recent arrival. When measuring out how much I have changed, that solo voyage I made on my 25th birthday is as good a place to start as any. My daughter was still just an infant at the time. I remember walking through the streets of the old town looking for something to bring home to her. The small handmade wool coat I bought is something she still gets to wear, on the rare Florida Winter days. As much as Cal has grown, I feel like as a person I have grown right along with her. I miss her so much. As I sit here on the verge of becoming a father again, I am sad to say that I find too many similarities between when my first child was born and today’s times. Right now I struggle almost daily with thoughts about what happened this past summer. Writing in this blog is the only time I have brought this up, since I stopped going to a counselor in July. To me it feels counter productive right now to bring it up with anyone in my everyday life, so for now, I write. I’m a different person than the 25 year old version of myself. I look at the bright side of things. Things are bound to get better. You’re gonna find true love. And start up a family. I think this time around, things will not repeat themselves and I am much more driven towards taking care of the right things. There is no “why me” because I am totally confident in the fact that I do the right things now. Fathers have to.
I really like where my friends live in Tallinn. They are in an apartment building in a neighborhood called Pelgulinn. Most of the structures in this part of the city are well over 100 years old. They have housed Estonians through 2 different occupations and 2 wars. I am sure at one point most of the buildings that suffered the most damage and disrepair sat unused, just being an eyesore within a very charming area. Rather than let this continue, the residents have transformed some of these buildings into shops, cafes, recording studios, and various other places of business and socializing. Its a great way to reuse ruins, while maintaining a rustic look that is authentic.
When I have encountered my own ruins of my past, I sometimes stop to think about what I should be doing differently this time around. Its hard. These ghosts come with some pretty unpleasant memories. Choices I have made have altered my path, permanently at times. When the choices are mine alone to make, its a bit easier to look back at these past situations and just ask myself what I have learned from things. What would I do differently, what future am I looking at if I go down a certain road a second time. When the choices are not mine and it is someone else altering my path, that is when frustration sets in. Its a cocktail of emotions, an eerie feeling of I’ve been here before mixed with a bit of trepidation and even fear. You don’t have much of a choice but to react accordingly and always try and do the right thing.
Sometimes things have a strange way of being tied together, through an uncanny set of circumstances or just by occurring on the same day. It depends on how you read in to such things. I’m sure everyone has their own stories of strange coincidences happening, day dreams about things or people that ended up coming true, stuff like that. There are two significant occurrences that have happened to me, one old and one new, that I can’t wrap my mind around as far as how and why things happened the way they did. One I would say is a matter of fate and things being meant to be, while the other I would call a shocking twist on a day that I have recently been reflecting on as being the worst day of my life. Which I guess makes me a hypocrite since I recently wrote that someone else is out there going through a much more awful situation then we are, no matter just how bad things seem. I’m getting ahead of myself. Allow me to explain, beginning with the much lighter of the two.
I first became interested in the country of Estonia back in 2006. I was living in Los Angeles at the time, shortly before I decided to apply to grad school. It started out just as a time killing hobby, Googling random information and looking at photos online. When I got the news that I was going to become a father, I decided I needed to come on home to Florida. This was a very difficult time in my life, leaving everything that I was working on back in LA and deciding to apply to a school in Florida to be closer to my daughters mother. Throughout this process, I kept my interest in Estonia. I was living at my parents house and didn’t go out at all unless it was to the graphics classes I was taking at UWF. I ordered a text book for learning Estonian and scooped up the few travel books that were sold at Barnes N Nobles. I had decided to attend UCF to get Masters degree in animation but once things were clearly not going to work out between Cali’s mom and I, there was still my acceptance into Washington to fall back on. So at the end of September I headed to Seattle. Thousands of miles from my immediate family and friends, I had a lot of alone time when I wasn’t in class. I decided to use some savings I had to go to Estonia alone for my 25th birthday. The weather was identical to how it was in Seattle at the time, so I was already dressed to explore. And explore I did. I walked miles across town and to the outskirts just to see things by foot. There were hardly any tourists or travelers at that time of year so I had all of the sights to myself. Plus since I was walking everywhere, I really got a good grasp for the layout of Tallinn. It was on this trip that I also met someone who would become one of my closest friends, and really help along my love and knowledge of Estonia itself. Upon returning to Seattle, I had to sign up for my next quarters classes. Just for the hell of it, I typed in “Estonia” into the University course search…and was shocked when Estonian 101 popped up. Somehow, someway, the school that I was attending in the corner of the United States thousands of miles from my hometown, was offering my newfound love as a language course. This was the first time in school history that the course was offered, and it was the only school in the entire US that was teaching it. If that isn’t a coincidence of the highest order then I don’t know what is. That is fate.
July 28th, 2012. The worst day of my life. The last few days I have been focusing on this date, unintentionally. I didn’t even know the exact date until last night. All I knew was that it was on this day that started my life down a river of pain and sadness. Probably the only day in my 30 years of life that I would go back and do over. I am not a person that thinks back into the past and says “Oh I would have done that differently or changed this”. I accept things and look at them as necessary events to grow into the person that I am now. But that day last July, should have shook out much differently. Through no fault of mine, while indirectly being all of my fault. A frustrating realization to come to grips with, which is why I am saying right now that I would have done things differently. Because now here I am thinking about it, tortured by it, and can’t get it out of my head seemingly. I was on a business trip to Savannah and I took my wife along. I had heard good things about the city, which is very old by American standards, plus it was close enough to Charleston that we could see both on the same trip. Also thrown in was the fact that there was a concert that weekend that I wanted to take my wife to. I had an old friend living in Charleston and she gave us plenty of good tips on what to see and do. And of course, where to get a good cup of coffee. I had hoped to meet up with her while we were there, she was someone that I really wanted my wife to meet. It didn’t work out though, and we headed back to Savannah to catch the show. Knowing what I know now, I wish we had said fuck it and stayed in Charleston. Or had all 4 tires blow out on the way home. ANYTHING to not have made it to that show. Because at that show, my wife introduced herself to the disgusting, awful person that she would end up betraying me with. So I inadvertently took her to the place where this happened, right in front of my face. I was right there. So I pretty much have to live with that fact every day. I looked at a bunch of old photos from that weekend yesterday because the start of this nightmare had been on my mind the last week. I debated deleting them all off of my Facebook and just destroying everything I could. I still might. At that point yesterday I still hadn’t even identified the exact date of that unfortunate day. Until I was walking home and was browsing Facebook. My friend in Charleston had posted something from her blog and it was sitting at the very top of my feed. No one had commented on it or liked it yet, but the title struck me as odd so I clicked the link and began to read. It was a very tough article to read because of what it was about, something that had happened to her a little over a year ago, my heart sank as I read through a horrifying situation for anyone to find themselves in. When I got to the part where she referenced the date of this sad story, my heart sank. A little over a year ago, I was there a little over a year ago. It couldn’t be…could it? I clicked back onto my Facebook and scrolled through the photos from Savannah and Charleston until I found the one of the concert tickets. July 28th. A coincidence. A date we both would remember forever now. Two thoughts have been on my mind since last night. What if we had stayed in Charleston and hung out with my friend instead of going to that show? Surely both of these horrible things that happened to us wouldn’t have occurred had we been together. It also made me think back to my own words. No matter how bad you think you have it, don’t for one second think you cannot handle it because someone out there is going through something even more tragic than what you are experiencing. I have focused so much on that fucked up night in my own thoughts, when this whole time I was unaware that someone that I cared about, that I was supposed to see that same day, had to go through something much, much worse than what I have been going through. Knowing what I know now, I am going to do my best to lay my demons to rest and move on mentally from July 28th. If the circumstances from that night rear their ugly face, I will deal with them without mercy, but for now I am going to try my best to focus on the present and future interests for my family and I. I will always remind myself to never take my friends, family, and health for granted because you never know what people around you are going through, even those you consider friends.
My life would be a pretty hollow existence without my daughter in it. That’s my little sidekick. She’s always had a good grasp on learning and speaking, the kid could already roll her “r’s” and count to 100 in Estonian at age 5. Her ability to converse with me made an already close relationship really blossom these last few years. We can have entire conversations about anything under the sun,and it makes me stop and remind myself I’m still talking to a six year old miniature person. One day when she can make decisions about her own life, I know we will be spending more time together instead of some schedule that in my eyes, was bought by my income and not based on what was best for my daughter. This little girl needs me. I’ve moved back to Florida from the West Coast twice to make sure I remained in her life. I don’t think about any alternatives, I know everything I ever do to make sure that she is OK will always be the right decision, no matter what else was on the table. There are some awful things at every turn in this world, and despite not having the picture perfect situation to grow up in, Cal has had a smile on her face every day of her life. There are no bad days to her. That is a fact that I am so thankful for. I know she needs me, and when I feel like I might buckle under the weight of my own personal struggles, I know that I need her just as much.
I get a kick out of people throwing around the idea that they can balance out the bad with the “good” they supposedly are doing in their lives. Sometimes its helping an old lady across the street or giving a bum change. Hell, sometimes its just lip service. Words. Whatever small good deeds you go about doing, its certainly not going to outweigh the toxic actions you might be doing on the side. So don’t expect some angel to swoop down and drop some good fortune right into your lap after you’ve totally trashed other peoples lives, cheated and stole, or done whatever else to an unsuspecting person. Doesn’t matter how much big talk and bluster you spewed forth about being a good person. “Karma”. How about you start worrying about the right here, right now consequences of how you live your life? Work towards something. Do the right things. Even when no one is watching you. Don’t expect good things to happen, go out and earn them. You can fool those oblivious to who you really are, but you can’t fool yourself. You can try, I guess, that has to be the mantra of some of these losers walking around treating people like shit while spewing nonsense about their “karma”. What, you can mistreat someone because….you don’t like them? They have something you want? Oh yeah I forgot, the universe is only in tune with your energy so as long as you fake a few moments of goodness, it turns a blind eye to the vile actions of last night. Keep holding your breath for those positive dividends. You might suffocate while doing so. In the end, life may or may not catch up to you. The people you hurt will though.
When I am traveling, I always make it a point to stop and check out big college campuses. Most of the time the only glimpse I had prior was through sports. So usually of course we go hit up the football stadiums, mascot statues, or anything tying the university to athletics. I think this may be an American phenomenon though, as I have been to a few of the university towns in Europe now and I don’t even think there is the same culture attached to the schools like there is back home. Sorry, no SEC equivalent in Estonia. These are bastions of learning, and alumni probably associate with them as such. Which is totally fine, I could see the crazed loyalty shown to a school that manifests itself at a sporting event being totally an American thing. I always liked school (I’ve continued to take classes so it seems like I never stopped until recently), plus the interesting thing for an outsider in Europe visiting these campuses is also like a history lesson. Seeing school buildings that are older than the United States and are still being used is mind blowing. These campuses have survived wars, revolutions, and upheaval that post colonial America only experienced during its Civil War. Imagining the culture clash that these students in Europe would experience while studying abroad in the South is humorous. What would they think being in Tallahassee on a Fall Saturday seeing a city full of intoxicated people going crazy for a school that half of them probably didn’t even attend?
When I die, the only things I really would care about people saying about me would be “he was a good father, he really loved his daughter and he was a good husband, he really loved his wife”. I would go to the grave knowing I lived up to those statements to best of my abilities. Anyone who would say otherwise doesn’t know me at all. Putting the people around you that your care about is a pretty good goal, and I feel happy when I am making that a priority. A lot of what happened over the past few months were some pretty painful trials for me personally, but I accept them as lessons. I learned a lot. I changed a lot. Being someone that deflects responsibilities, consequences, and just sits around bemoaning their problems isn’t who I am. I feel really sorry for people who can’t get out of their own way. Life is never going to be perfect for you, and sure the hell won’t ever improve (in your eyes) if you don’t cut the “woe is me” horse shit and make some changes that will directly affect your so called problems. If you can’t see each day for the beautiful prospect that its a great day to get better, chances are things are going to get way worse before they ever get better.
I think the biggest thing that a lot of people struggle with is being held accountable for their actions. Big and small, you’d be amazed how many people are full of shit. I put a lot of things out in the open over the last couple months and one side effect of doing that was that it forced me to be accountable for my actions with the crowd of people that I was trying to communicate with. It also forced other people in the situation to do likewise, whether they liked it or not, and whether they realized it at the time or not. Things have a funny way of blowing up in peoples faces. That’s a good thing. No one should be allowed to use a public platform to lie. Using it as a way to tell the truth can be so much more powerful in the long run. Dated, signed, packaged with a nice tag that reads “so this is what REALLY happened.” May include hash tags. When you commit to something, you’ve gotta belong to it. When you say something, you better back that up with your actions. And if you bold face lie about something, please just go ahead and say to yourself that you accept the explosion when it goes off in your face. In the end, its never worth it. So you you might as well start holding yourself accountable. Because the rest of the world sure will.