I never liked this time of year. The snow birds have migrated south. Students are home from college, forming reunions. Holiday decorations are starting to litter the homes in the neighborhood. Fellow co-workers planning their holiday vacations. Planned arrangements. Holiday cheer floods the faces of people walking the streets. Did I mention how much I dislike this time of year!?
I really don't know what it is. It's not that I dislike seeing people happy. It's not that I dislike seeing old friends. Maybe I have just outgrown the holiday spirit. Is that even possible!? When I was a child, I remember when October came. It was great! Planning for what my Halloween costume would be, became an annual tradition. Once Halloween passed, and the decorations were being taken down, talks of how Thanksgiving would go, immediately followed. Once all of the leftover turkey sandwiches had been digested, the planned night to pick a Christmas tree was always quickly upon us. We'd venture out into the night, after a long day of school [and after school activities], to a lot filled with trees. People would be walking around, looking for the perfect tree, with a big smile on their faces (frequently, even with a Santa hat on). Within the next week or so, the tree would be decorated, plans for Christmas would have been set, and holiday shopping had begun! As an aside, I will always recommend that this time of one's life is desired, absorbed, and cherished (although, as I grew up, everything I did was supposed to be "cherished" [am I now that old man, attempting to speak advice?]). Christmas barely passed, before the new year was upon us, and then it was the countdown to my January 22nd birthday. Not to mention, amid all of this, there was a cool crisp feel in the air (no, I am not going to get scientific "global warming" in this post).
I guess it is safe to say that I may have outgrown the tradition that we used to have. My brother went away to college. I eventually followed him. And now, he is still away, and I have moved away as well, for work. Everyone is getting older, and going their separate ways. I think it is more than that though. I know that we are all only a travel away (me a short drive, and my brother - a short flight), but I think that there is more to it. The feeling of the holidays, the holiday spirit, and the celebration of the holidays is still possible regardless of a new location. As people get older, and move away, they make their own holiday traditions. They may not always agree with Mom's classic holiday tradition, but they are filled with their own holiday cheer.
I learned that this past week.
I suppose the culture of my new job has had its affect on me. I was given a couple days off from work (the Friday after Thanksgiving and this past Monday as well). Upon receiving the news of a couple days off, I immediately saw an opportunity of rest and relaxation. Instead, the complete opposite occurred. Going into last week, I had only made concrete plans with my friend that came in town, Austin (who I met when I was at FSU). I had planned to enjoy a Thanksgiving meal at his house [with his family], and entertained the idea of seeing him when he was free (which is always entertained when he is down, but has a tendency to never occur). This time was different, however.
I called Austin on Wednesday, to confirm the time for Thursday. When we spoke, he mentioned that his father's boss had invited him on his boat [and told him that he could bring a friend]. Austin's other friend was busy on Friday, and couldn't go on the boat. So I was the one he invited to go fishing. Mind you, I have always been susceptible to motion sickness. When I was a child, I used to get sick on a boat in the inter coastal!! I used to also get sick on long car rides (as short of a distance as an hour). I also never liked to be spun [as most kids do] because my dizziness would make me sick. Regardless of my past experiences, I committed to going fishing on Friday. He notified me that we would have to be on the boat at 7:15 am...AM!!! So, I reluctantly took him up on his offer, packed a bag, and spent the night on Thursday. Why do I state that it was reluctantly? Well, this would note the first time I have ever slept at a friend's house [in my conscious memory]. I know that it sounds weird, but I never liked the idea of a sleepover (it always gave me a weird image and feeling).
I took one Dramamine in the morning, with breakfast, and we were off. On the way out to the ocean, riding the waves, I got nervous. My mind flowed back and forth on the possibility of getting sick. I had thought I chased the thoughts away, until we were out in the middle of the ocean [off the coast of Palm Beach]. The minute we slowed down enough to cast our lines, we hooked four dolphin (even though we only got two in the boat). The action of reeling in a fish was fine, even with the rocking of the boat, but the sound of a fellow crew member throwing up brought back horrible memories. I had to turn away, bringing my attention to the trusty horizon (that is always told to look at, to avoid getting sick). The cool breeze coming out of the south, rushed the boat, and my thoughts went away with it. Unfortunately, we didn't catch anything significant after that (we had to cut both lines), and returned home. On the way back, I realized what I had just done, and I felt a sigh of relief come over me. I decided to label the day as an adventure, and stepping out of the box.
But wait, there's more!
Once we got back to Austin's house, I had received a text from my friend Dom. He said that he was going to be hanging out with some of our mutual friends, and that I should come over when I can. This is an odd occurrence as well. You see, Dom and I became close friends over the summer, but more recently, he has gotten me angry. On multiple occasions, he has broken plans that he had with me, to spend time with his girlfriend. This is not a first time offense, so I cut him off for a month (didn't pick up his calls, respond to his texts, etc.). It was odd to hear from him, but since the day had been going the way it was, I decided to roll with it. I got to his house, and was told that I had to shower, because we were going to go to a party later that night. So, I showered, and debated the idea of going to a party of a bunch of people from Fort Lauderdale, and then, having to drive all the way back home to Miami Beach, only to come back to Fort Lauderdale to work in the morning. Dom told me that I was thinking illogically, and that I should just sleep over. Again, I hesitantly agreed, borrowed some of his clothes, and made myself at home. We eventually left his house, and proceeded to go to a couple of our friend's places, ending up at the house party that we were told to go to. While we were there, I felt like I was trapped. I didn't know many people there, and I was probably the only one not drinking or smoking (as my personal preference). I eventually branched out, talked to some people, and had a great time. Which reminded me of the old me. I don't mean to get all nostalgic, but being there brought back great memories from years past. Not that I would change who I am today, but it was good to have that momentary feeling again.
I woke up on Saturday morning, and went to work. While I was at work, the lightly addressed idea of a group of friends meeting up to watch the UF-FSU rivalry football game was being put to action. So, I got off work, and found myself meeting Austin at my mother's house, and riding over to Bokamper's (a local sports bar). When we arrived, Adam was already there getting a table. Soon after being seated, Mark showed up. Marvel joined us later, and the crew was formed. It was a good time. After the memories, and the nostalgic wishes subsided, we were cheering, booing, and talking trash to each other. While I was there, I got a call from Dom. No, I wasn't going to stay out for a third night in a row, but I was asked to go to the Miami Dolphins game on Sunday (I had only been to one before, and I didn't have such a good time when I went). I warily accepted his offer.
Sunday morning, soon after breakfast, I was off to Fort Lauderdale again. Back at Dom's house, he got in the car, and we left to the game (I am unsure how he pulled it off, nor do I want to know, but Dom got mid field row 8 seats with a free parking pass). The game was exciting, as we were practically on the field!! While we were there, I met Dom's "Aunt". This is only significant because I made the networking connection, and we set something up for her to help with Best Buddies. I guess saying that everything happens for a reason fits well in this circumstance.
When I got back home late Sunday night (because I was coaxed yet again on Sunday evening, and went to dinner with Dom and his family), I was kind of stunned. I felt like I had lived through a real-life experienced Hangover movie, minus any injuries, marriages or pregnancies.
The whole idea that I made it through those couple of days, without a set eating schedule, a set workout schedule, and a set sleeping routine, was...enlightening. It sounds lame, but I learned a lot about myself during that time period, and I realized something important about life.
"Life begins at the end of your comfort zone." -Neale Walsch