My very first Tom Petty memory

News broke today that Tom Petty has passed away so I thought I’d share my first memory of him and his music.

I was in middle school in the late 80s/early 90s and our family had recently moved to Stafford, Virginia. Our next door neighbors had kids around my sisters ages (high school) so they naturally became friends pretty soon after we arrived. At some point they started talking about music and my sisters’ new friend gushed about Tom Petty. I couldn’t help but laugh and think, “What a dork!” Who would like Tom Petty or his music? I thought I was so hip and evolved and my neighbor was out of touch.

Boy, was I wrong!

As I got older, my exposure to music expanded. It was probably some time in college or just after college that I thought back to that middle school Virginia story and was embarrassed again… but this time it wasn’t for my neighbor, it was for me. I was the one who needed to learn more about good music and it wasn’t just limited to the tiny handful of songs or groups I liked.

Tom Petty is a legend and sadly, it took years for that to become a reality for me. He was singing adult music and I was just an immature little child. Here’s a list of my favorite Tom Petty songs:

Free Fallin’

Don’t Come Around Here No More

You Don’t Know How It Feels

I Won’t Back Down

Learning To Fly

 

-Out of the Wilderness

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I was going to be a baseball player

In middle school, one of my teachers asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I remember timidly responding, “I want to be a baseball player.” Well, it wasn’t for a few more years that I would lose my love for the sport (and haven’t ever regained it :)) but up until then, I believed I could do it.

2 me and Whitney Williams

me in 5th grade sporting a Semper Paratus shirt.

Childish dreams, that’s what it was. I didn’t have the talent, and even if I had the drive and the willingness to work hard at it, I didn’t have the talent. Have I mentioned that I didn’t have the talent? But kids don’t think about what it actually takes to make it in professional sports. Or anything professional, really. It takes time, dedication, and oh yeah, talent.

The last year I played organized baseball was in 8th grade. Something flipped and I didn’t care to play anymore. When I went off to college (I say “went off” like my parents didn’t live right down the street), I played intramural softball for a winning team, albeit we were all students not playing for any school-sanctioned team of any sport whatsoever, but we were the best intramural team at FSU for 3 or 4 years running. #stillhavemyjersey #livinginthepast

As a grown man, yes I’m a grown man!, I love playing softball and even if most leagues I’ve been in fall into the “beer league” category, I’m still competitive and I’ll push a guy if it comes to that. Hmm, maybe I’m just living out the broken dreams of a middle school kid who just wants to come back to his hometown and ask his dad, “Are you prouda me, Pops?” like some dramatic New Jersey school dropout with a strong accent.

It’ll never happen, though, because my dad doesn’t go by “Pops”. Dang it!

-Out of the Wilderness

11 Things You Can’t Do in School Anymore

…and all these were found in 2 of my junior high yearbooks from 1991 to 1992. God bless Stafford Middle School in Stafford, Virginia!

"forced at gun-point"

“forced at gun-point”

white kid with blackface.

the first case of someone wearing “blackface”? …and no one was bothered.

young boys with no shirts on is just asking for some kind of lawsuit in 2014!

young boys with no shirts on is just asking for some kind of lawsuit in 2014!

another shirtless boy.

another shirtless boy.

Halloween, but also a brave young man.

Halloween, but also a brave young man.

how many middle fingers can you find?

how many middle fingers can you find?

no digital camera means no one discovers this till it's developed. Or never, in this case.

no digital camera means no one discovers this till it’s developed. Or never, in this case.

more guns.

more guns.

a scary Jason mask and another concealed weapon.

a scary Jason mask and another concealed weapon.

6b

pointing a toy gun at someone's head. and this made it into the yearbook! so imagine how much this happened without cameras around!

pointing a toy gun at someone’s head. and this made it into the yearbook! so imagine how much this happened without cameras around!

You can’t say bomb on a plane!

"terrorist tactics"... um, yeah, that's a no no.

“terrorist tactics”… um, yeah, that’s a no no.

cap gun.

cap gun.

who wants to play a game in the back of my van, kids?

who wants to play a game in the back of my van, kids?

10b

praying... maybe kids still do it in school but it's certainly not listed in the yearbooks.

praying… maybe kids still do it in school but it’s certainly not listed in the yearbooks.

And the honorable mention goes to virus-free Apple computers… some things never change I guess. 12