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! 

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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.

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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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When death knocks at a neighbor’s door

It’s been over 10 years since I left Tallahassee, Florida to pursue a burning in my heart that brought me to Tennessee. My delight in video production started way back when I was a little kid but it really grabbed ahold of me in college. Soon after graduating, I had the opportunity to volunteer with a local church youth group and a lot of what I did with them was make videos. Each week I got to know the kids better and realized they were a pretty special group.

Well, in this group was a young girl, I think she was in middle school at the time. She had short, curly, blonde hair. I remember how much she smiled and was friends with a lot of other kids there. She had a spark and you could just see it, that she would be a spark in a lot of people’s lives. I didn’t know how, and I guess no one did at the time. At that age, and even the age of me and my friends who were also volunteering there, it’s hard to know exactly what mark we’ll leave on the world. We were all so young.

A few days ago this girl, now an adult, was killed. The moment I found out moved in slow motion. It’s not like I knew her anymore, but still, it was a total shock. No one ever wants to hear of someone dying way too young. She was 24, the reports say. Her death continues to weigh heavy on me. I can still barely believe it, and don’t want to.

The sad news has reminded me how precious life is. I sit in the back yard, letting the heaviness pin me to my camping chair. I think about all the little concerns I have that, if I knew I was about to die, those concerns would not even be the very last things I’d worry about. They’d be so far off the list. One of my dogs lays about 10 feet in front of me, next to her frisbee. My other dog’s inside, under the sheets napping. My family in Florida is probably at the soccer field, baseball field, or eating lunch, or a few of them jumping on the trampoline, or swimming in a pool. I blink my eyes as my mind goes deeper and deeper into thought about what really matters. My faith. My family. My friends. My neighbors.

Then more thoughts about what I’m doing that’s a waste of time. What I’m doing that I need to keep doing. What’s important? When it’s my time to go, what I’ll be most proud of. Least proud of. What I’ll regret. Will I have been a spark in the lives of those around me; my friends, my family, anyone I work with?

I’ve tried to express the current state of mind I’m in, but maybe this quote I’ve heard before is more appropriate, “When you don’t know what to say, sing.” This song by Greg Holden is what I’m singing along to…

A few days have passed since her death. Clicking over to her Facebook page I’m reading comments on her wall, all confirming the spark she was to so many people. Because of Shannan, I’m not taking today for granted. I’m soaking in the sun and sights of kayaking downtown Nashville, and thinking of Shannan.

Hope you’re still a bright shining spark in Heaven.

-BW

The year 1997: putting the O in pOpular

The year was 1997. I was a pale, skinny, timid high schooler walking the halls as a senior at Leon High School in Tallahassee, Florida. This city was different than what I was used to. Students drove big trucks with big Mickey Thompson tires.mickeythompson
In Miami, where I spent most of high school, the smaller the tires, the better.
Hooptie1Both were absurdly extreme. And possibly extremely absurd. But as a teen in Tallahassee, a must-have car accessory whether you rolled on mud tires or more efficient, less noisy stock tires was the O.
oakley sticker

It was practically your parking permit at Leon. Having mud tires and this sticker earned you triple bonus points and a spot on the football team.

20 years later I don’t see any Mickey Thompson tires, maybe because Nashville isn’t as “southern” as Tallahassee. I will see the O every once in a while, and it takes me right back to my days at Leon High School and that pair of Oakley’s I lost in Georgia when I left them on a rented van after me and my family went to Callaway Gardens for a holiday weekend full of lights and laughter… and tears.

-Out of the Wilderness

 

My dad used to drink and drive

dont-drink-and-drive-sign-k-8676When I was a little kid, I often saw commercials that said, “Don’t drink and drive,” and then I’d see my dad drinking while he was driving. It was usually on long trips to visit family in Florida that I remember this happening. And with 4 rowdy kids in the back with no batteries in their Gameboys, could you really blame him?

But before I get in trouble with my dad, I’ll make it crystal clear for you; he didn’t drink alcohol while he was driving. It was usually coffee or ice water. But all I remember from those TV ads is the warning, and so I thought my dad was breaking the law every time we had a family vacation.

I should’ve spoken up. You know, so I wasn’t aiding and abetting a felon! But then I’d find batteries between the crack in my seat and start playing Tetris.

-Out of the Wilderness

I tuck my shirt in on Sundays

I visited a nearby church recently and loved the chapel where we met for worship. It was small, beautiful with an exposed wood beam ceiling, stained-glass windows, almost a relic of the past. It reminded me of the baptist church in Monticello, Florida where my grandparents went. A handful of every age group in the congregation. Traditional hymns but with an acoustic guitar instead of an organ. I enjoyed it! There was a picture of an eagle (a little random, but who doesn’t love eagles, right?) in the pre-service Powerpoint loop, and I overheard a lady behind me say something that is now the quote of the week:

“I’m glad that’s our bird and not a turkey.”
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-Out of the Wilderness