“The best things in life happen when you are the most prepared and least expect it.” Steven Lamar
Growing up I was a pretty quiet kid. Not having any siblings that were close to me in age meant that I had to get used to doing things pretty much alone. This created a very creative imagination, one that probably inspired a lot of the solitary activities that I still enjoy today. I had always envied those that had siblings, relatives, and friends that lived close by. Even in the critical social years of development we lived so far out of town (last bus stop at the lake) that it made it difficult to find friends. We had neighbor kids that lived next door that were close to me in age but I just couldn’t relate very well to them. One of them was more interested in acting out and getting negative attention while the other one took more interest in solitude than even I was used to. This meant that we never were really close despite being neighbors for a few years. I dreamed of a day when I would have my own friends. I wanted to have so many that it would be difficult to decide who I wanted to hang out with. I guess it was simply my way of overcompensating for not having many at all. I was going to be so popular that people would knock on my door just to meet me. It turns out you need to be famous or win the lottery for that to happen. Since I am not in the movies and never buy a lottery ticket, it meant that I was going to just have to find my own way.
As I entered my high school years, things got even more awkward. In middle school I easily made friends because my cousins already lived in the small town i moved to. Naturally their friends became my friends. One of the most challenging decisions I had to make was when I was a Freshman in high school. I had decided to go live with my mom and step-dad. The lived in a much larger area than I had ever lived, and I was entering a school where I didn’t know anyone. I can still remember my first day at this school. I felt like I was being stared at all day, but when I got home I realized that I hadn’t been noticed at all. I quickly learned that it is better to be disliked then not noticed at all. At this point I decided that I was going to spend the next 3 years becoming someone that everyone knew. It turns out that that I only partially succeeded. There were definitely a lot that knew me but only when they needed help with their school work or when I had to point out that they bought two left shoes which was causing their foot pain. I guess you can call me a genius. The truth was, that I didn’t even have any geek friends… I ended up spending most nights and weekends with my parents and their friends. I found their stories much more interesting then the meaningless stories I heard at school anyway. I would help them work on their cars, pay poker with them on the weekends, and have intelligent conversation with real people that were actually living life. It turned out to be a decent way to get through high school, but I still had dreams and wanted a social life of my own. I was still a long way from having people just knocking on my door to become my friend. The good news is that I was able to make it through it.
The years following high school were absolutely crazy. Pictures a bunch of young kids away from home for the first time in their lives. Out in the world and playing Marine on the weekdays, and acting like a complete idiots on the weekends. Needless to say that nights in the barracks got pretty interesting. You never quite knew what to expect when you opened your door. This was a huge point of personal growth in my life. For the first time I was being exposed to so many people from all different backgrounds and social behaviors. I had to quickly learn to think on my feet or get swallowed up by the beast. If you thought that life was tough in high school, you have never spent time in the military. They prey upon any resemblance of weekness. I had to get that out of my vocabulary very quick which really helped me to grow up pretty fast. You will meet some of the most interesting and unforgettable people you will ever know in your life. You will also quickly learn who you can trust with your life and who you can trust with your wife. Believe it or not, they are not always the same person. I had developed some very strong bonds in that 5 years that I am still in contact with to this day. I think that it was these 5 years that brought me out of my social shell and into somewhat of a social butterfly. I came out a little more aggressive, a little more comical, and a lot more confident. Even after all of that, I was still a long way from having people knocking on my door to become my friend.
The years spent in my 20’s were pretty much a blur. I got so caught up in my career and meeting people from all over the US that i felt like I was getting all of my social needs filled in the best way I knew how. It wasn’t until I hit one of the darkest points in my life, that i realized that I didn’t really have any friends at all. It was at this point that I felt like it was my first day in a that new high school all over again. It was as if nobody even noticed. I truly felt all alone in a town that I had lived for 4 years and had no friends to show for it. I think that the only person that noticed me was the neighbor lady that would say hello from her kitchen window every time I walked to the mailbox. I was in desperate need of some friends so I began to get out of the house in search. It took very little time for me to get a good handful of “friends” once I finally made the attempt. It turns out that all you need to do is go to a bar, shoot a few games of pool, buy a couple rounds of shots and “Boom” you have “friends.” I was being invited all over the place all of the time. I couldn’t even get many nights to myself on the weekdays which created some big challenges with work. I was riding a social high, and it was pretty damn exciting except for one small problem. I was not living a life that I wanted to live, nor was I being myself. I had become one of the very same people that I had always despised in the past. The problem with the “Social Climax” is that it can be very addicting, especially for someone that was desperately looking for friendship. This went on for a good couple of years before I was finally thrust back into reality. In a good way!!!
The road to self discovery can be quite a long process with many twists and turns. Quite frankly, it is something that cannot be taught in a book or in a classroom. It is a journey that we all must find on our own. For some it may happen quickly, for others it may take a lifetime. Most of us can identify that one single point in our life where everything changed. The point when we begin to discover who we really are, what we really want from from our life. I had finally had that moment in late 2008 after I had made some choices that I am not proud of. I had treated some people in a manner that was not in my character. It was as this point that I realized that quality friendship was much more important than quantity. I made a vow to never compromise my values ever again. Slowly I began to make subtle changes in behavior that enabled me to come out of the darkness a little bit each day until one night when I least expected it, my wife walked in the door and she didn’t even know it. I will save that story for a later date but needless to say, everything changed. This time I was just going to be “me” and see what happened. We were married July 10, 2014, almost 5 years after we met. It was during this time that I discovered what I valued the most in life. I had truly developed a friendship built upon a strong foundation, one with trust and acceptance, rather than than a need to change. She was beautiful too so that was a plus. For the first time in my life, my heart was wide open and unguarded. No longer was I the chameleon trying to blend in with my surroundings. For the first time in my life I felt like someone had accepted me as I am rather than who they wanted me to become. I had finally found a way to conquer my deepest fear of being alone, simply by being myself.
Life with Nora has been filled with many unexpected adventures. We have been blessed to have a good group of friends that share common goals for success, and a mutual interest in living life to the fullest and not just for the moment. It has been nice to finally have a group of friends that invite us into their lives for important events as well as random rendezvous. I have come to realize that life and friends have so much more to offer when you put yourself out there as you are with realistic expectations. Our wedding was one of the most amazing days of my life. We had successfully melded two (very different) worlds into one big success story full of love, compassion, and friendship. Everyone that was in attendance had been with us along the way, always in support of our relationship. It was nice to see everyone get to know each other. In many cases it was the first time they would ever meet. There was a moment of peace and successful fulfillment, as I realized a dream I have had for so long. After all the effort by so many of our friends in helping us to reach our goal, I couldn’t help but smile and shed a tear as my best friend walked down the isle to finally become my wife. It started what has become a journey full of unexpected adventures that I will remember for the rest of my life.
Knock At My Door
Just when I thought that one of my lifelong goals had finally reached the climax there was a knock at my door, figuratively speaking of course. The truth was that this was coming from a couple that Nora introduced me to when we first got together. They have always been a very fun couple, and Nora often has to push me out of their house because I can stay and talk with them forever. Recently we had an opportunity to travel with them to Whistler and spend the week with them in their condo. I was pretty excited for the opportunity but was also very shocked at the same time. It is not often that people will invite others along for their family vacation for an entire week. I guess you have to be a pretty good friend to get that kind of invite. I didn’t quite know what to expect. I had never been to Whistler, nor had I ever spent an entire week with one couple in a cozy little condo. Needless to say, we had the time of our lives that week. Endless fun and adventure and constant social stimulation that never got boring or repetitive. Something that you could only experience with the best of friends. They will never know how much Nora and I appreciated this amazing gesture… One that we were glad to take them up on. It has truly been a blessing to have such great friends that enjoy and even request our presence. The memories that were made that week will live in my mind forever. I have learned that I don’t need or even want people knocking down my door to get to know me. What I need are people in my life that simply want to be there. A very special thanks to Jen, Larry, and Ally for having us on their vacation. “In my country, that is a pretty awesome thing.” I don’t know what lies ahead in the journey called life, but with friends and family like this the future is looking pretty bright.
The photos posted here are all from our trip to Whistler (April 2014). I hope that you enjoy them. Feel free to check out my website at http://www.lightfxstudio.com and don’t hesitate to share my blog with friends.