The second topic that I was supposed to write about is things I’m grateful for. I have so many things that I’m grateful for, there’s no possible way I could do how much I appreciate my life any justice at all. I work everyday at not taking things for granted and enjoying all the little moments. There. I’m grateful for those little moments. And cable.
Today’s topic is “Places I’ve Been”, and I’ve been a lot of places.
I’ve been to Washington D.C. I love it there. Well, we love it there. Kelly and I have taken full-fledged vacations to D.C. twice already, and while this summer may not have a big trip in store, I’m sure we’ll be back there for a third time before we (I) get to old to be walking around everywhere. The walking is really the charm of our trips. We’ve done Pittsburgh to see Cirque du Soleil, Columbus for a quick weekend of adventure and the two trips to D.C. where we just park the car and walk around exploring. The capital is the best, though, because we just shuttle from a hotel in Alexandria to a Metro station, get on the train and head into the city. Every morning we make a new adventure. We paddled the basin during the Cherry Blossom festival, we spent a whole day in the Newseum, we even made an evening at the Kennedy Center. There are lots of vacations in the future for Kelly and me to enjoy together, but they have some pretty big shoes to fill.
I’ve been to the Thousand Steps in Pennsylvania. Kelly and I did this one together, too, and I’d do it again tomorrow. It’s part of the Heritage Trail on Jack’s Mountain, and I can’t possibly make you understand how cool it is. If you like the outdoors and have a free weekend this summer, click that link and take a round trip to PA. The Thousand Steps is worth your time.
There are actually 1,043 steps in the Thousand Steps Trail. They were created in 1936 as a means of transportation to work for the miners high up on the mountain. I don’t know what anyone else thinks, but having done this climb I think it is pretty incredible that this was the morning and evening commute everyday for the men who worked up on the mountain. Quite a commute! – From SummitPost.org
I’ve been to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. The details aren’t terribly important, other than I was visiting a close friend who was doing some time there in the United States Marines. I really can’t recount these stories very well without him sitting next to me at the bar and a case of empties in the trash can, but boy do we make a good center of attention at the neighborhood beer joint when we start reminiscing. I do remember waking up in a hotel room, fully clothed with vomit on my pants, four other people who slowly came into focus passed out around the room. A dining table totally full of empties, two Pepsi cans filled with Bacardi, and another guy sleeping in the bath tub. It was a mess, and the glass from the broken window was a hazard, so we high tailed it out of there. I’m pretty sure the name of the place was the King Inn, and I’m also pretty sure that I owe that place an apology. I didn’t break that window, but someone did, and I was probably the guy that was cheering that guy on when he was taking that bottle of Jim Beam to the face.
I’ve been to school. Kindergarten, elementary school, middle school, high school and even some college. I spent the majority of my time in school wishing I didn’t have to be there. I missed class, screwed around, procrastinated, half-assed homework assignments and skated by on the strength of high test scores. I’m pretty sure that I was smart kid, but I did a lot of dumb stuff. It’s not all “woe is me, I didn’t pay attention”, though, I had some kick ass times in school, too. I was part of my high school’s drama club, doing the light systems and such. We played in the catwalks above the auditorium, pranked everyone we could find, and occasionally got into some good-natured trouble. I went to football games, homecomings, pep rallies, and proms with all my friends. Maybe I wasn’t the best student around, but high school was mostly great. I’m thankful for that every time I hear horror stories from people I know.
I’ve been to a pool hall. Many, actually, but mostly just Chandley’s. Hours and days and weeks and years in that pool hall. I walked in with some buddies just feeling like a cool kid because I was younger than everyone but still got to hang out with the group. (They were out of high school!!) I didn’t take many trips to Chandley’s to get curious about the happenings at the front tables, the ones with all the old dudes taking everything real seriously. I started watching, talking and learning. My biggest strength was never actually playing pool, but making the games. Finding guys I knew I could beat and making sure that no matter what we played, I always had the best chance to win. Not that I always won, because I sure didn’t, but I never got myself into a game that I thought I was going to lose. I could make good games because I spent so much time sitting in the corner listening. Listening to the crazy exaggerated stories, to the bullshit the guys would talk to each other, to every little thing that led up to a handshake and a couple big rolls of money being set aside. I hung out, drank, played pool, played cards, threw dice, fought and loved in that pool hall. It’s still there, I think, but it’s not Chandley’s anymore. It’s changed ownership since I last made my life there, pool halls are hard business, and we’re both moving on. I’ll never forget the lessons I learned, or the friends I made, at Chandley’s. I hope that whatever sign hangs in the window, that room of tables will always be there to help kids like I was learn about life.
And I’ve been home. I was home with my family for lots of my life, then I spent some years living all over the place, but I never quite found home until now. I have Kelly, two cats (because somebody has to run the place), and a pool table in this wonderful home. Maybe I’m the product of road trips, pool halls, detentions and trouble making, but those things got me here. And here wins.