[Note: I began writing this at the end of June 2018]
I was laid off last week so I’ve got a lot of time on my hands for a bit. The transition to unemployment is a gentle one, which I’m thankful for.
I’m cool and all, but if things go sideways in a few months you may see me promoting my photography or trying to sell gear from my hobby rations.
My life is pretty much a blank slate right now. All the dials and sliders have reset to zero.
There are logistical things I need to take care of but I do have the luxury of being able to chill for a week or two. Truth be told, I’d be backpacking in the nearby wilderness right now if it weren’t for the fact that I’m afraid of bears, and lightning, and lightning bears. (Make yourself look big, back away slowly, and make sure you’re electrically grounded.)
Then I have to go over my finances and lower my burn rate. I’ve had long unemployment stints before and they were life-changingly, and unnecessarily brutal and financially devastating. Not in a hurry to do that again.
What I’m about to describe is an interaction. Not a confrontation or an incident.
Last year, on vacation with the family at a resort in Florida, I was excited to get in the water after having taken months of swimming lessons. Even though it didn’t require any skills I was stoked to be able to comfortably hop into the lazy river with the whole squad. Making up for lost time in terms of water + recreation. I mean, now that I actually own rash guards and swimming trunks.
Good times. You have to have a wrist band to be in the lazy river section with the cabanas, hammocks, and everything, and you have to have a certain color wristband in order to chill in a reserved section. Since my mom is all about the timeshare quality of life perks, that’s where we were.
But something happened that bothered me and still sticks in my craw.
While we were floating and chilling and relaxing, a little European American boy wading through that part of the lazy river, approached my sister. He was no more than ten or eleven years old, if that.
He said, “Excuse me. You have to have a wristband to be in here.”
When I was a kid, the family would go to Aunt Drayde’s house for crab feasts. Newspaper spread across the table and the red-orange crabs like living sculptures. Sometimes we would go with her and Auntie A. to buy the crabs, bring them back, and I’d be in the kitchen watching her cook them. I remember one of the crabs, blue on the kitchen floor, and being afraid to pick it up. Crab pots. Beer. Old Bay. Foaming. Boiling. The aroma.
A beaded curtain between the kitchen and dining room. A mesmerizing oil rain lamp. The grownups would play Pinochle and we kids would run around trying to stay out of trouble.
Sleepovers with my cousin driving her crazy because we were roughhousing all the time. She’d say, “You can’t be together and you can’t be apart.”
We celebrated Grandma’s birthday yesterday. It was a big deal. Lot of people. Five generations.
It was good to see family again. You all know how it goes. Families tend to be dispersed and busy with their lives so funerals and weddings tend to draw them from afar. So we were able to celebrate Grandma’s life and shower her with our appreciation and love. Family from her side and my late grandfather’s side, neighbors, Turner Station families, pastors, nieces, nephews, cousins, children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, great great grandchildren. She’s the cornerstone of our family. Still.
A little less than two years ago I started an outdoor-centric YouTube channel called “BlackoutDoors“, as in black outdoors.
It kind of sucks so I’m not saying that you should go there just yet. There’s a reason that I only have 10 subscribers and most of the videos get approximately zero views, on average. They tend to be something like this. Footage, music, no narration, no focus on people, and no story. There’s definitely potential.
I’m writing this (and googling calf massagers) right now for one reason. So I don’t eat.
I’ve been doing intermittent fasting for about four weeks now. 16/8. In other words, I have an eight hour feeding window, usually from 2pm to 10pm, give or take.
I’m not sure how much progress I’ve made. Sometimes I feel like I’m getting results. Other times, not so much. When I see the family today, I’m sure someone will comment on my weight or physique, or lack thereof. Haha. You know how fam’ly do. I have an end-of-the-cycle weigh-in the next time I’m in the gym so we’ll see. I’ll be disappointed if the scale or body fat numbers haven’t improved. Then I’ll have to pay closer attention to the other numbers: calories, macros, micros, quality of food.
I shook my head and swiped to the next blood red news. Fourteen injured and I didn’t blink. I didn’t think any more of it. That’s how inured I am. It was type on pages. Then I saw their faces and the shell of apathy cracked and the patina faded. These kids are dead. These children died. And I’m a grown man so when I cried it was on the inside and I took deep breaths until — my eyes cleared and the lump in my throat subsided. Choke down the shame that our society decided that this is the price of freedom.