All the places I’ve lived, and a favorite memory from each

coast-guardMy dad was in the Coast Guard, so that meant a lot of moving around. Before I was born, my family had already been up and down the east coast, and spent some time on the west coast, too. My oldest sister was born in Key West, next oldest sister was born in Monterey, CA and then my brother in Virginia. When it was my time, the family was back in Key West. I was there for a short time before we moved out west. Here’s the list!

born: Key west, FL (December 26, 1978)

Hawaii – I was just a little guy here, about a year old, so I have three memories: attending a luau, going into a building, and going under a bridge (or tunnel?) on the way to a beach. I guess the luau is my favorite because I remember looking across and seeing my baby sitter.

Hollywood, FL – Started my academic career here at Sheridan Hills Christian School. Favorite memory: Our family took a lot of boat trips. We went down to the keys, spent nights on the water, I got sea sick for the first time, and still, these trips are easily my favorite memory!

me as 4th grader 2St. Petersburg, FL –  Attended Maximo Elementary School for 2nd and 3rd grade. Favorite memory: At school I met a friend that made me laugh so hard all the time. To this day, I measure everyone else against him. He was so funny. One of my least favorite memories: My funny friend was not at school one day, then not there the next day or the next. A few days later, his mom came in and picked up his things. I never saw him again!

Newport, RI – This is where I attended 4th grade at Underwood Elementary. Favorite memory: touring all the mansions, like these.

the-breakers

The Breakers. 62,000 square feet! 

newport-mansions-43

Rough Point. 39,000 square feet and 105 rooms!

A tie for favorite: all the lamborginis. Not sure why there were so many, but it was somewhat common to see one driving around the city. And Saabs. Lots of Saabs.

2-me-and-whitney-williams.jpg

5th grade at Widewater.

Stafford, VA – I was a 5th grader at Widewater Elementary School then moved to Stafford Middle School for 6th and 7th grade. These are my favorite years from growing up. I made great friends that I still have today. One favorite memory: trick or treating on Halloween one of the years. Somehow a friend and I got separated from our group of friends, but he and I still went around to so many houses. That was a fun night! Also, our house was situated on a golf course so we’d go out there to play football, capture the flag, flashlight tag, and hmmm, maybe hit some golf balls. I also came up with a list of things that happened in middle school that absolutely would not happen in today’s world. Here’s a link to that:

[11 Things You Can’t Do In School Anymore]

Miami, FL – Westminster Christian School for 8th – 10th grade. Favorite memory: being on the JV basketball team. And it was in 10th grade I had my first kiss. I know, I was late to the party! 🙂

New York, NY – Curtis High School for half of 11th grade. Favorite memory: I got to see a taping of David Letterman. It was really fun. We lived on Governors Island, so it was nice to have a place with grass, and trees, unlike most of New York City back then! Also, riding a ferry past the Statue of Liberty every day on the way to school was pretty neat.

Tallahassee, FL – Finished 11th and 12th grade at Leon High School. My dad retired from the Coast Guard in 1996 so we moved back towards family in Florida. Favorite memory: this is getting difficult because with each place, I have more than one favorite! But to name a few, I’d say my aunt’s lemon squares, my grandfather driving 120mph in his Isuzu Trooper to get me to school, pb and j lunches at The Brown Bag Express, basketball with friends, and graduating from the same high school my mom graduated from.

Note: I stayed in Tallahassee for college, as well. I have so many great memories in those 4.5 years. Too many to pick one!

Nashville, TN – This is where I’ve lived since the mid-2000s. Also too many great memories to pick one at the moment. So I’ll go with the lame answer: My favorite memory of Nashville is all of them. 😉

-Out of the Wilderness

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The Case of the Missing Retainer

I was a junior in high school living in New York City. We had just moved there from Miami, Florida, where we had been for 3 years. Our stay in New York wasn’t for long, only 6 months because my dad retired from the Coast Guard. We couldn’t continue living on the military base (Governor’s Island) so we packed up and moved to Tallahassee, Florida. I wasn’t sad about the move because during the 6 months I was able to do make some memories: snow skiing, sitting in the audience for a taping of The Late Show with David Letterman, playing flag football, learning how to type fast, trying out for the school basketball team, and whitewater rafting with my dad. But one thing I wasn’t able to do was get my braces taken off. I was in 9th grade when I got them. Why? Well, let’s just say the theme song for my teeth was Fleetwood Mac’s…

Some people had buck teeth. I had a buck tooth. And none of my other teeth pointed the right way either. I got braces in Miami, kept them in New York, and it was my senior year at Leon High School (go Lions) in Tallahassee when they were finally removed. “Phew! Just in time for my senior pictures!” But it was in New York that the unsolved case of the missing retainer happened.

One night, a lot like any other, I brushed my teeth and got ready for bed. I dutifully inserted the retainer which I was supposed to wear while I slept. However, when I woke up the next morning, it was gone. Ruh roh Raggy. I checked everywhere. The bathroom trash. My bed sheets. Under the bed. Beside the bed. Under the pillow? Nope. Days went by and the retainer was still missing in action. When it came time to move, I thought, “OK, now that retainer will turn up!” It didn’t. To this very day, I can’t explain what happened that night. The only chance of reopening this cold case is to find the retainer in the box of my stuff in my parent’s attic. And honestly, I hope it’s not there. That would be gross. Can you imagine the smell? Of course, I’m curious how much a vintage 1996 retainer would go for on eBay.

The moral of the story is that sometimes things just go away and you have to be alright with that. It could be a retainer or it could be a person you love. In the end your teeth might still be a little crooked and so might be the path you take, but you should still smile, and smell the roses along the way.

-Out of the Wilderness

Where Are All the Men

Last week I saw a rerun of Friends. At one point, Chandler was asked to do some handy work, and he said to wait while he goes to get his wife’s tools. I was struck immediately with the thought, “Is this the American man now?” That episode probably aired ten years ago, of course, so I understand it’s a bit outdated. But I wonder if there are more Chandler Bing’s out there now. Men who are not tough.

I remember when men on tv were ones I could look up to, men with character that were chivalrous and strong: MacGyver, Cliff Huxtable, Uncle Jessie, possibly Danny Tanner (although he wasn’t very tough except in the episode where he dressed like a rockstar to play at D.J.’s fundraiser), Mr. T, the father on Boy Meets World, Tom Selleck, James Garner and Tony Danza (Who’s the Boss?).

But over the course of a couple of decades they’ve turned into Charlie Sheen (Two and A Half Men), the guys on Big Bang Theory, Barney Stinson, the Situation, and professional athletes that get in trouble for domestic violence. It seems like men in the spotlight now are either over the top, or way under the top. Womanizers, or pansies. We’re persuaded to tolerate those kinds of guys and that tolerance creates more of those kinds of guys. We mock the jerks on The Bachelor, and yet we tune in every week to watch. I guess I’m just tired of seeing the pansification of men in America. I’m tired of contributing to it.

Bring back the men that open doors for women, that don’t call or text after 10pm. Men that can budget money. Guys that play football on the weekends and go to church, too. Men that are less concerned if their fingernails are clipped and more concerned about securing leaks in the house. Men that rough house with their kids, nieces or nephews but will not tolerate outsiders who do the same. Men that care less about matching their shoes with their belt, and more about making a woman feel pretty and wanted. Men that get down on one knee to ask their girlfriend to marry them not inspite of it being old-fashioned but because it’s old-fashioned. Men that would give their life to protect the ones they love. They drive trucks. They have a dog. They may even cuss a little when they get fired up. They eat horse radish because it puts hair on their chest. It’s ok to have calloused hands. It’s ok to believe in something and disagree with someone who believes differently. Tolerance is for the birds. Buck up and be a man. Respect women. Cook burgers and steak. Grill chicken and eat all of it that night. Eat broccoli because it’s healthy, but it’s ok if you don’t enjoy it. Eat a salad and take care of your body. Excercise and get strong. Compete. Compete fairly. Own tools and use them. Be old-fashioned. Don’t be a Chandler. Be a Fred Wilder. He plays the drums. He travels weekly. He’s been married for over forty years to one lady, my mom. He still enjoys washing his car and hers on the weekend. He was in the Coast Guard for twenty-seven years and served in Desert Storm. So he’s tough, but he also likes Hallmark Channel movies. He’s got a truck and a beagle. He has four grown kids that he makes an effort to see or talk to regularly.

He’s an example of what men should be. Well, he and MacGyver.