Well I’ll tell you what I didn’t do. I didn’t write
much at all. I have my reasons. Lots going on this summer; and usually that’s a recipe for more writing. But this summer was different.
I could say that a lot of what was going on was travel. If you read my last few posts a couple of months ago you know that we were well on our way to another amazing family road trip. And one day I promise to write all about that from the spot right where I left off. The Big Apple, the Garden State, my time at “Relaxation House and Spa” (AKA: my sister’s house in central PA), the rolling Blue Ridge foothills of Northern Virginia, a wedding, a long return drive through a place that is nowhere along the route home (Peoria, IL?), a journey down old Route 66, home again… And that was just us getting started with an incredible time for me and the kids (and my wife when she wasn’t buried in work). A few days later my wife and I set out for Southern California for another wedding, a major earthquake, some Hollywood sightseeing, and another trip home. A few days later my wife set out back to Virginia for a funeral and more work. Then a week and a half later and she returned to California for a vacation with some old friends while I entertained one of my nephews with his cousins (my kids). And like that, summer’s over. But I won’t say it was any of that.
I could say it was the near 1,000 degree heat and high humidity to which I have NEVER become accustomed. The stickiness of this literal hot mess slows down every molecule in the deep south to where typing out a few sentences is a major undertaking. It’s why we sit on our porches and drink gin. I did a decent amount of that this summer which also contributed to my bronzed appearance. I saw an old friend yesterday. We seem to lay eyes on each other about once a year despite living 4 miles apart. He noticed the tan. Some might say skipping sunblock is probably bad but it’s how I get my Vitamin D. And I’ve soaked in about as much as nature will allow. And like that, summer’s over. But I won’t say it was any of that.
I could say it was physical in nature; that I spent hours each day jumping rope shirtless (see tan above) outside, sweating bullets, hoping to see the slightest reduction in body fat percentage For the benefit of my fused spine. I also lifted weights, did a bunch of HIIT cardio, and a few other things just for fun. You’re probably wondering why I mentioned my lack of upper body clothing. Well, it’s funny you should ask. I have really come to rise above my self and my natural laziness and aversion to hard, physical work over the past few years. And something about stepping outside into the hot Texas sun and sweating everything I’ve got is incredibly rewarding. Unfortunately I still hate wearing sweat-soaked clothes. Since I can’t workout in public without shorts I opt to ditch the shirt. I promise it’s not a vanity thing. There’s not much to be vain about. But I mention this fact in particular because while entertaining that nephew I mentioned I traveled with him to stay at a friend’s house in Austin for the weekend. He wanted to workout with me so we bought a jumprope and some gym shorts at Walmart, stepped out onto our friend’s patio, and I trained him – a strapping young fireman – in the finer points of jumping rope. He was learning how to master the classic boxer skip; I was racing through double and triple-unders. My friend in who’s house we were staying texted and asked what we were doing. Her next door neighbor, unaware that we were houseguests or who we even were, texted my friend (the homeowner) to ask why two studly shirtless dudes were jumping rope on her patio while she was in Napa with my wife. Did I mention that I only had one rope and so my nephew and I took turns with it, and that while one of us had the rope the other simply jumped in place? It must have been a strange sight indeed. So I worked out like a beast all summer. And like that, summer’s over. But I won’t say it was any of that.
In fact it might have been a combination of ALL of that and it might have been NONE of that at all. Part of it is that I’ve been living life with my kids, knowing I could continue to chronicle this life of ours a little later. True I don’t like to wait too much longer lest I start to forget details or the stories don’t sound as incredible. But there’s something to actually living it and then writing it down. Not everything needs to be documented in the moment. And we’re still here and still fine. My wife has been beyond occupied by her job, traveling a full quarter of every month away from us and the kids and I have had to learn to adjust to that. It’s not ideal but we’re managing to have fun together even though we miss her terribly. We’re kind of developing our own groove in our communication and our interactions. I went back and read old posts from when the kids were babies. It’s funny that now we have inside jokes with each other, we sneak in “Dad-treats” to get ice cream, and play games. And Dad tries to keep them on track with their chores, hopefully inspiring them to help keep our house a home. And when Mommmy gets home we all breathe a sigh of relief because everything is back to normal. So it was some of that.
But perhaps the biggest reason I haven’t written in a while is that I’ve been on a quest of late to re-tool my digital footprint. One way to do this is to step away from blogging for a bit, trying to rediscover why I started writing in the first place. Toward that end I’ve spent months re-reading the old stuff and getting a good laugh. I’m happy to say my style hasn’t changed much. I think I’ve become a better writer but the old stuff was still good – and some of it even still makes me laugh very hard. There was the dark summer last year where I wrote so many memories of my time in McCarrick’s seminary; stories I eventually took down so I could organize them into a book, a book that will come eventually. Mentally recovering from that mess was some of it too. I spent about a year reading every single article, watching every Youtube clip, searching out news, caught up in one of the darkest scandals in Church history. After a while, it’s time to just stop and reflect. And I did. I’ll still write about it, the truth; but I need to write about my blessings too. And speaking of social media, I deleted my Facebook after 12 years. Now that’s another story for another day. I’ll say that a friend of mine commented right before I pulled the plug that “I’d be back”. He’s probably right but when I am back it will be right for me, on my terms, as a platform to stay in touch with family and people with whom I am actually friends in real life. I think I know how to do it to. So was that any of it?
What did I do this summer? Man alive, what didn’t I do this summer? School’s starting next week. I’m so ready to have my kiddos back. I’m a teacher. If they didn’t return to me every year around this time I’d be talking to an empty room for an hour at a clip because I kind of have to teach. Say a prayer for all of us.
I’m thankful for this summer, thankful God gave me this time with my kids, this time truly to miss my wife, thankful for gainful employment (hers and mine), thankful for returning students, for travel, strange roadside attractions and the St. Louis Arch, thankful for a gift of writing, and thankful for all of you who read.