Know Thyself

Today, I fly home from this accursed place. The Springfield-Branson National Airport (emphasis mine, because lolz) is practically empty, but I have a electricity and WiFi, which is a luxury compared to most airports, albeit the Occasional Announcement of Obviousness.

All buildings in this airport are designated as smoke-free. Thank you for your cooperation.

I'm trying to answer questions about what it is that simultaneously makes me miss this place and yet, gives me that foreboding sense of dread in the pit of my stomach. 

There is an Ancient Greek aphorism that everyone has heard. It's one of the Delphic maxims, which is kind of like the Ten Commandments (though there are over a hundred of them and they make a lot more sense for the most part). The most famous one is simply, Know thyself.

Know thyself. In a country where the extroverted personality is idolized as the ideal, it's easy to forget the importance of this maxim. We're not really taught to examine our actions. We're encouraged to let go of the past. To move forward. Many times before we have even learned from the mistake. We focus too much on getting up again when we fall, that we never realize why we fell in the first place.

May I have your attention please. All carry-ons and checked luggage are subject to search.

When I was growing up, I dreamed of nothing else, save the idea of moving somewhere far away and being able to travel a lot as an adult. It's fair to say that my wife and I have achieved this. But no one, not once, seems to talk about the cost of following your dreams. My costs have been separation from friends and family that I love. Watching them get older, their kids growing up, knowing nothing but the small updates I get when I come home every few years. You miss all the nuance that way. And it sounds like a small thing, but it isn't. 

You feel like a bad friend, a horrible uncle, a worthless brother, an inconsiderate son.
I miss this place because I miss the people here.
The 147th maxim is: On reaching the end, be without sorrow.

I dread the Midwest because I felt so trapped here. Every time I come home, I'm afraid that something will happen which will suck me back up in the vortex and I just can't deal with that. I look at myself, how far I've come from Hallowell, Kansas, to Joplin, Missouri, to Austin, Texas, and now Santa Barbara, California, and I'm in awe. I live a life that I only dreamed of as a child, and it took luck, hard work, and people investing in my future. I never would have made it on my own. I didn't have it in me.

The 52nd maxim is: Pray for things possible.
The 56th maxim is: Down-look no one.
The 73rd maxim is: Be happy with what you have.

And I am, because I know how I got here. I was always afraid that I'd shoot myself before the age of the 30. And I didn't. I'm still here. Going home to Santa Barbara.


Say Goodbye

Last night, I had to say goodbye to my niece and nephew. Gabriel is 12. Gracie is 9. When I finally announced that I had to go, Gracie looked up and you could see it all in her eyes as the reality set in. She started crying. And my heart broke.

I don't visit enough. Every time I've left them, I find myself crying in the car wondering when I'm going to see them again. Three years is too long. I never wanted to be the kind of uncle who never came to visit. And the only solace I could offer was the promise of video chats and letters. Kids need to know that you're thinking about them. And I don't even do that.

I'm going to change my habits. I should write my niece and my nephews and tell them what is going on in my life. I need to make plans to take them traveling in a few years when they're teenagers. I should show them the world. It's within my power to do so.

I'm so used to hiding from everything that I'm missing it all. 

Question 1

I dread coming back to Springfield, Missouri. The streets are laced with memories, with mistakes, and everything is familiar, yet also drastically different. It's a city full of good friends and it's a city of slow progress, usually the last to follow down the paths the rest of the country has already paved, the old guard conservatives kicking and screaming all the while, like spoiled children.

Last Tuesday, there was a measure on the ballot that, if passed, would restrict the rights and protections put in place for Springfield LGBT community six months ago. Well, it passed by the narrowest of margins. John Lindell, who still commands a congregation of 9,000 at James River Assembly, used his pulpit to sway the election.

Fighting the good fight.

Fighting the good fight.

It's funny that Lindell doesn't know that he is the embodiment of history repeating itself. During the Civil War, the Bible was, like it is even now, used as a weapon; pastors wielded it to defend slavery with scripture, to defend slavery as the will of God. History has proven that despite what the Bible said, slavery was immoral. Protecting the rights of the LGBT community is no different. History will prove (and is proving) that the Christian response to the LGBT community to be immoral.

John Lindell. Looking all "relevant".

John Lindell. Looking all "relevant".

One could look at this vote in two ways. You could reach for the obvious and realize there was a defeat and believe that nothing really ever changes in this conservative mecca. Or you could latch on to how close the vote was and realize that the city has a strong undercurrent of progressive minds that only gets stronger with each passing year.

Springfield's conservative base is getting older. Despite the vast number of churches in this town, membership is declining. Liberals are moving here from the coasts and it's only a matter of time before the tide turns. I can see, in this very moment, how much change has happened in the last decade. It's been slow, yes; but it's picking up speed.

When the balance finally tilts towards the progressives, Springfield will be a completely different place. A place worth consideration. My applause to everyone that has gotten Springfield this far. I wish I had your courage.


Suntory Whisky

If Bill Murray and Lost In Translation were not already enough, these 3D ice cubes make me want to buy Suntory whiskey. So brilliant.

You're A Winner. I Can Feel It.

I'm in Dallas, Texas. I'm waiting for a flight at 10:05 pm for Springfield, Missouri. I've just eaten a McDonald's "home style" hamburger and trudged through the entire B Terminal in search of sparkling water. Perrier or Pellagrino would be the normal fare. Sounds easy. It's not. I'm on my second Schweppes. Good enough.

Today has been fucked up. You know all the TSA security checkpoint shenanigans? I travel pretty light, but when it comes to the things on my person, my iPad, my laptop, my camera, my coat, my shoes, my personal items, all these things seem to require their own tray in the eyes of the TSA. I'm just about a month shy of my TSA Pre-Check interview, after which, I won't have to deal with this anymore (or at least, less), but with things being as they are, everything comes off.

So I walk through the line, assume the position for the nudity-ray, and when my three trays come out the other end, I grab them all at once and walk to a corner to put myself back together. I didn't even think about the bag. I didn't even see the bag.

The sad part is that I didn't remember this. An hour later, when the suddenness of my loss hit me, I thought it was stolen at the Korean taco truck in Terminal 4. And then I thought it was stolen when I was buying earpods at the Best Buy vending machine (which will piss Vida off to no end as she told me 800 times to make sure I had everything). And then I thought that maybe I just walked away from it after eating lunch and someone turned it in. I talked to the police, to airport security, to American Airlines, everyone but the goddamned TSA.

So here I am, in Dallas Fucking Texas, a city I hate with all of my heart, eating McDonald's and drinking Schweppes and waiting for a flight to Springfield, Missouri. No luggage, but all my electronics intact and still some awesomeness to go because I get to visit Wal-Mart in Springfield for some real essential shit, after midnight no less (when all of Springfield's finest are alive and well), which pisses me off because I haven't patronized a Wal-mart in almost 7 years.


This is what happens when I leave my Santa Barbara bubble without my wife.
This is what happens when I decide it's a good idea to go home.