So through some goading and encouragement I have decided to try to write more frequently. It is silly that I don't because I enjoy it. But it is like working out, it sucks and no one should ever do it. Ever. No, I mean that although I know it is good for me, I actually enjoy it, and I like the results I find it hard to motivate myself to do it after working all week. But here is my attempt to set my resolve, and actually do it more frequently. Since I am reticent to post any of my bad poetry here I will write you another story. This blog seems to be theme-ing itself that way no matter what I do, I don't seem to be able to get away from the fact that I am a consummate allegorist.
When I left home for college, I had a spiritual experience. Although most of what I say in stories is pretty tongue in cheek and sarcastic, I mean this. I think it was a pretty common transformation that I went through. For the first time in my life I was challenged to define and defend my beliefs without much direction from authority figures. My parents really did give me a fantastic foundation and I am grateful for that, but now I had no mom or dad or pastor with me at all times to help me with a world view. The freedom was a bit overwhelming. I started to find out who I was as a person. I started to believe things because I believed them, not because I was taught them.
Now I know that every high school senior out there has strong convictions, and deep-rooted firm beliefs. But let's be honest with ourselves; how many of us knew anything at all about life when we were in high school? If you did, them maybe you haven't matured enough to become wise at all. Or maybe I have matured enough to become completely cynical and jaded and you are a prodigious genius and emotional giant. But you aren't, you were as dumb as the rest of us in high school. I am old enough to know now.
So back to me! It was my sophomore year, and I was in my "cool" phase. You know the one; where you buck conventional wisdom about what is cool, and accepted. I started questioning the "wisdom" of society and traditional values, and started feeling sorry for all the "huddled masses" who were blind to the fact that they were living for all the wrong reasons and wasting so much time worrying about the wrong things. Good grief I was cool. Probably too cool to hang out with you, but don't sweat it, I ran with a pretty selective group back then of like minded hippies and we were cool to everybody.
I had spent my freshman year trying to recreate high-school and I had an awakening my sophomore year to find that I had wasted so much time! I was at college now, and I should have been making the best of it. No parents to be disappointed with my decisions anymore. I was free from having to live my life for other people. I could really get down to trying to impress my friends and girlfriend.
Now to be fair, I did go to the liberal, rebellion breeding, party soaked East Texas Baptist University; so my rebellious non-conformist phase was pretty mild compared to the average college wild stage that many people go through. Let's be honest, I have never been much of a rebel.
Of course I got involved in the arts, and started doing as much theatre as I could. This was the best thing to come out of the "cool phase" because it has remained a passion and my favorite form of expression. In many ways I feel like I am meant to be involved in theatre and I know I will be again someday.
I had taken to not wearing shoes. My descent into shoeless-ness was a bit of a slow one. It started with me wearing flip-flops. I have to point out that this was long before wearing flip-flops was a thing people did. I don't say this in any way to be some type of hipster. I just need to point out that getting flip-flops was actually quite hard. I went out of my way to get footwear that was non-conformist just to prove the futility of bending to societal norms. I was so freaking awesome! I even made myself some flip-fops out of duct tape.
All of my clothing during this period came from thrift stores. The older and more ironic the better. I found some really horrible things and wore them shamelessly. I did find some great things at the Goodwill $.99 sales.
I also stopped shaving and cutting my hair. For those of you who have seen me with facial hair, just know it was actually worse back then and I was rocking it. I also felt like it would be a great idea to wear different colored handkerchiefs as head wear. Just picture a theatrical, shoeless, unshorn, thrift-store-clothing-clad pirate. Which isn't really a thing you can picture because it is not a thing that exists, but that is kind of what I must have looked like.
So now you have a backdrop. It was in the full swing of this that I was stumbling to my 8:00 am class one day. This was after I had learned the pro college scheduling trick of having all of my classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so that all of my weekends were three day weekends and Mondays were free for doing all of my homework at the last minute. College professional.
It was a bright cold winter day, I was of course shoeless and being far too non-conventional for sunglasses, I was squinting in the sun. Of course I had rolled out of bed at 7:50 to give me ten minutes to pull on whatever clothes were in my floor and walk across the small campus. I was barely awake and almost at my destination when I saw one of the nicest men I have ever met, Dr. Thomas Webster. At the time he was Mr. Thomas Webster and he was the band director and a music professor. As I said he was a wonderful man, universally loved by his students, of which my then girlfriend, now wife was one. Everyone knew Mr. Webster, it was a very small school.
He walked out of the chapel building and waved at me, saying "Hello, Mr. Marchbanks!" I turned my head to him, and raised my chin in my most unaffected "sup" gesture, and said, "Hey Dr. J!" Now everyone called Mr. Webster... Mr. Webster. His peers referred to him as Tom Webster. I knew him well, and I knew his name. I had been to his house. There was nothing in me calling him Dr. J that was understandable. I was tired, and so tired in fact that I kept looking at him trying to figure out where that had come from.
The quizzical look on his face quickly became wide-eyed surprise as I walked directly into one of the three foot diameter, knee-high circular planters that were decorating the walkway I was on. His face was actually my first indication that I had hit it, I was that tired and distracted. I fell forward, flat on my stomach on the planter.
I tried to put my hands forward to stop my fall, but my hands were thrust firmly into the pockets of my sweatshirt seeing as how I was freezing, partially due to the fact that I was barefoot in winter. The pockets of my sweatshirt may as well have been a Chinese finger trap for as well as I could get my hands
free. I flailed about like some sort of drunken chicken, flapping my elbows as I laid squarely onto the planter. My backpack filled with a full time course load worth of books for classes that are all on only two days then slid over my head, toward the ground. The weight of my books pulled my head toward the ground, and my feet into the air.
At this point, I was inverted, vertically, with my head flat on the ground, my face touching the base of the concrete planner, my bare feet kicking in the air. My momentum carried me over, my feet falling to the ground in a perfectly rigid flip. I ended up laying on my backpack flat on the ground with my hands still uselessly wedged into my sweatshirt pockets.
The last I saw of Mr. Webster, he was running toward me. At this point I was silently laughing seeing as how the wind was knocked out of me. The next thing in my vision was Mr. Webster's face, literally with tears streaming down it from laughter. He was asking, of course if I was alright, and trying to help me up by my elbows seeing as how I had still not succeeded in extracting my hands from my pockets.
So after an awkward stumble back to my feet, I thanked Mr. Webster and walked toward my class. He walked away still laughing and shaking his head. It is an image that will stick with me forever. The blond headed man, wearing a grey suit, with a hand to his forehead, shaking his head, shoulders still shaking with laughter. It made me laugh all the way to class.
Once I got to class I saw that it had already started and that was all the excuse I needed to skip. Tuesday/Thursday classes are an hour and a half long, so that meant I got a good hour nap before my next class. And that is the story of how I fell down. I can stretch even the most mundane things into a ridiculously long story, can't I?