Memorial Day in the 618

With the car loaded up Beverly Hillbillies style, we headed to Salem for a night over the holiday weekend to see my dad and my brother's family. Sometimes iPods and phones can be more curse than blessing, but I'm here to tell you that with seven people in one car for more than about thirty minutes, they become all blessing.

Mason was pretty excited to see his hero (and cousin), Haddon.

Savannah pretty much dominated the Connect 4 circuit.

And, as always, it's just great for all of the kids to see each other while we continue to watch as they grow up together.

Of course, the oil derrick behind my dad's yard was appropriately decked out for Memorial Day. Actually, I think there are always flags on top of oil derricks regardless of the time of year. I may be wrong.

Whatever.

. . .

I can't say I slept well while staying at my dad's. Maybe it was the coffee I drank before bed or possibly the midnight bowl of cereal. Either way, I found myself restless in the middle of the night reading about one of my favorite movies from when I was a kid.

Am I the only person who remembers Poison Ivy?

Let me be the first to tell you that flipping through the internet for an impromptu "where are they now" for actors who haven't done much else besides this made-for-television movie is one way to work your body into a state of rest in a hurry.

Apparently Jerry Disbro died in 2009.

. . .

Many of you know about the random stuff I make -- buttons, posters, prints, stickers -- mostly referencing some deep cuts from my favorite movies and pop culture properties. Believe it or not, there's a market for this and the things I'm doing continue to expand. I recently found that I have the opportunity to grow this thing a bit, but in order to do so, I have to have a brand name.

So hit me with some ideas. Up to this point, I've "branded" myself with my own name ... just the name of my website, actually. But I'm guessing that some markets would frown upon a brand that simply refers a person to an independent website instead of keeping them on their own site.

. . .

The Knicks were surprisingly fun to watch during this year's regular season. Big thanks to the New York squad for drawing us all back in only to crash and burn in the playoffs. 

I'm saying Atlanta in six.

. . .

Finally, I stumbled across a band recently that I've been listening to a ton of over the past several weeks. 

Winnetka Bowling League, congrats on providing the theme song for the 2021 Summer of Tim.

Book Burning

I took the first of what is sure to be my share of summer naps today. But this one was a little bit different that most naps I take. I didn't wake up feeling groggy like I often do.

I felt good.

Rested.

It's like when people feel a cold coming on and they take a nap to "sleep off" the symptoms. In many ways, I feel like that 90 minutes of slumber was me sleeping off a long school year and subconsciously transitioning into summer.

Or maybe it was just a nap and I'm overanalying it.

Whatever.

. . .

Speaking of transitioning into summer break, the kids have been asking me to build a fire in the back yard so they could dispose of this year's school materials in style.

Even though Raiders of the Lost Ark taught me years ago that only bad guys burn books, it was a good night for a fire so Anna cooked a Pop-Tart over flames fueled by a year's worth of notebooks, papers, and workbooks.

Yes, we know.

We're early contenders for Parents of the Year.

Graduation and the Cost of a Haircut

Today marks the official start to my summer -- one day later than most of my co-workers as the counseling staff wrapped up our extended contract obligations for the year. Myles and Savannah finished the last half-day of their school year, Trisha had the day off and offered to spend the day doing something fun with all of the kids while I was working. Unfortunately, Mason wasn't feeling well so while everybody else hit up a few stores and a trampoline park, I worked from home and hung out with this kid all day.

 

At one point in the day, Mason seemed to be feeling okay and he'd been in desperate need of a haircut for a few weeks. Since I cut his hair at home, I figured we could take advantage of the time home together and around lunchtime we headed to the bathroom for a trim. I cut the top and the sides and was just about done trimming his neckline when I heard him say, "Dad, I have a headache."

"You'll be okay. We're just about finished."

And then...boom.

That kid dropped like a sack of rocks. No hands in front of him to catch himself, arms at his sides, and a straight up faceplant into the carpet floor outside the bathroom. 

After a few seconds that seems like an eternity, Mason shook the cobwebs and was as confused and scared as you'd expect from any nine-year-old who just fainted. But after a cold rag and a few minutes to snap back to reality, he was able to look past the tiny rug burn under his nose and laugh at how funny he thought he had to have looked.

Lesson learned. When cutting a sick kid's hair, let him sit down.

. . .

The only time in my life I remember fainting or knocking myself unconscious was when I was a freshman in high school. My first day of high school, actually.

I was in PE class -- 6th hour -- and it must have been raining outside because the activity of the day was a series of ridiculous relay races in the gym. One of the races was the one where you put your forehead on a bat and spin around ten times before taking off on a leg of the relay. Most normal people would be cautious in their dizziness and take their foot off the gas a bit to maintain at least some sense of balance.

Not me. 

I was about to show off for all of my new classmates by showing them how fast I was. I did my spins, dropped the bat and hit a dead sprint to the other end of the gym.

But my plan did not work.

First, I have never been a fast runner. Second, I did not make it to the other end of the gym.

No more than three strides into my sprint, I took an immediate and unexpected turn to the left ... head-first into a set of wooden bleachers stacked against the wall.

WHAM!

The next thing I remember was sitting in the school office while a secretary was asking me questions. Somehow I made it to my brother's car at the end of the day and headed home. As far as I'm aware, there was no phone call home to tell my parents that I probably had a concussion. No suggestion that I see a doctor. I'm assuming somebody just stuck a finger under my nose to be sure I was still breathing and then carried on with the day as usual.

That was the last time I ever did the spin-on-the-bat relay race and the last time I ever attempted to wow a room full of spectators with foot speed that I didn't have to begin with.

To this day, I can still hear the sound of my head hitting those bleachers.

I must have looked awesome.

. . .

Anyway, while Mason was home passing out during a haircut, everybody else was having a killer time at the trampoline park.

. . .

They got home about the time I needed to head out for an evening of graduation ceremonies at work -- 200+ seniors separated into three indoor ceremonies in order to maintain at least some semblance of social distancing.

I was given the task of addressing the audience to open each ceremony with an announcement requesting everyone wear appropriate face coverings and keep themselves spread out as much as possible. 

Much to my surprise, I only heard one audible groan in response to my announcements.

I admit, I don't always love my job. But after a week of closure to a challenging school year and an evening celebrating the students we show up to work with every day, it's hard not to recognize that I'm lucky to be part of an amazing team of educators.

Even after twenty years, there's still a great satisfaction in seeing these kids cross the graduation stage.

The Summer of Tim: A New Beginning

Among the greatest comeback stories in history, prepare yourselves to be wowed by one that will be remembered for generations to come.

Hold on to your seats.

The Summer of Tim has returned!

For the next two months, you are invited along as I find things to occupy my time during the summer break from my work in public education. I realize that blogs are about as relevant these days as a MySpace profile, a rousing game of Snood, or a classy GeoCities website -- yet I still find myself drawn to this platform more often than you’d expect. Typically, though, those urges to write something “profound” fall victim to my ever-dwindling attention span. Still, whether or not anyone even opens these pages and reads anything I write, I enjoy putting my thoughts out there and sharing the joys and struggles and experiences of daily life with others as a way to keep myself accountable and prevent life from passing me by during the summer months.

With the 2018 Summer of Tim cut short, and then the 2019 Summer of Tim cut short, and then the 2020 Summer of Tim never started, I’ve come to terms with the fact that…

...well...

...I actually don’t know what fact I’ve come to terms with, but here I am again...pecking away aimlessly at the keyboard. Needless to say, plenty has happened since the last time I sat here.

. . .

In countless ways, 2020 was a year like no other. I’d be lying if I said I’d had any sort of idea that my life would head the direction that it has! It’s no secret that my fifteen-year marriage ended in divorce in 2018 (legally not until 2019, but whatever). Throughout that experience, I never once doubted my belief that God had something great in store for me. I had no idea what that would be -- a reconciled marriage? a life of being single and content? a new relationship? -- but I knew I was staring down the barrel of an amazing new chapter in my life. Through the burdens of divorce, I found myself regularly turning to Galatians 6:9:

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

Faced with adversity, I continued to do what I knew to be right and felt a daily confidence that someday I’d reap a harvest. Much to my surprise, that harvest came sooner than I expected.

. . .

I started college in the fall of 1994 and had a class -- "Fitness for Life" -- with a girl named Jamie. At one point in the fall semester, along with a few other classmates, I was invited to Jamie’s dorm room to study and I was very briefly introduced to her roommate, Trisha.

Trisha was friendly, funny, and quickly caught my eye. She had probably been a cheerleader in high school. I was the dude with an orange bowl cut.

  

Unfortunately, when I asked Jamie about the “social status” of her roommate, I learned that Trisha had a boyfriend so my hopes were dashed. At some point later that year, I threw caution to the wind and reached out to Trisha through this new communication called email and expressed my interest to her. As I should have expected, she politely declined my advances and explained that she had just ended a pretty lengthy relationship and wasn’t interested in anything new.

Whatever. That’s cool, I guess.

At the end of that year, Trisha transferred to a different school a few hours away and closer to her family.

You’d think the story’s over, but it’s ready to begin.

Over the next year or so, Trisha occasionally crossed my mind as our college years continued a hundred miles apart. There was just something about her that had me curious. Through the wonders of the internet I easily found her current email address at the school to where she transferred. I dropped her a line and casually reminded her of my piqued interest.

I guess I'm persistent if nothing else.

Maybe Trisha was curious. Maybe she was bored. Or maybe she had spent those few years deeply regretting her decision to shoot me down in 1994 and longing for another chance. No matter what her reason, this time the interest was mutual and we made plans to get together.

A couple of times over the next few months, we’d spend weekends together either on my campus or hers. We hit it off wonderfully sharing a common appreciation for the finer things in life like Billy Madison, Empire Records, and Counting Crows.

Eventually, though, having come off a lengthy relationship of my own prior to reconnecting with Trisha, I explained that I wasn’t ready to jump into anything serious and our weekend visits came to an end.

. . .

Another year or so passed before Trisha and I crossed paths again. She was on campus visiting some friends in the fall of 1998 and, although I can’t recall when or how, we ended up together at my apartment with several other people. Trisha expressed an interest in possibly reviving the casual relationship that we’d had but, again, I wasn’t interested.

The following semester -- spring of 1999 -- Trisha spent time studying in Spain and I was back home completing my student teaching requirements. One day, much to my surprise, I received a postcard from Spain -- Trisha sending her greetings from overseas.

Interesting. Maybe there was something to this Trisha girl afterall.

Using the last address I had for her, I dropped a letter in the mail thanking her for the postcard and suggesting that maybe she give me a call when she returned to the States. Honestly, I was pretty excited to have heard from her and looked forward to hearing from her when she got back.

But I never did.

That was the last time I heard from Trisha. Spring of 1999.

. . .

Over the next two decades, I completed an undergraduate degree in history and a master’s program in school counseling. I worked professionally as a school counselor and found myself busy with many side projects to keep my creative juices flowing. I met and married my now-ex-wife and had three amazing children. During that time, I admit that I was always curious about Trisha. Not in any sort of inappropriate way where I felt like she was the one who got away or in any way that would compromise my dedication to my marriage. Just curious where life ended up taking her.

Eventually, in 2018, I faced the realities of a failed marriage and found myself divorced. It wasn’t the direction I ever expected my life would go but I was there and I refused to let it destroy my spirit. Instead, I used that experience as an opportunity to grow as a person -- mentally, emotionally, spiritually. I had no idea where my life would take me -- all I could do was trust that God had a plan in store.

. . .

Early in 2020, I introduced my kids to the cinematic brilliance that is Billy Madison. Through swans and Snack Packs, Miles Davis and that silly penguin, it wasn't long before Trisha popped in my head. We'd watched this movie more than our share of times back in the day and watching it now made me curious where life had taken her. With no real intent of tracking her down to catch up, I did what any red-blooded human would do and snooped around online to see if I could find out what 20+ years had done to her.

My friend Google turned up little more than a photo of two kids and a dog but I was happy to know that she had a family and based on the smiling kids, seemed to be doing well.

I suppose most normal people would have stopped there but curiosity got the best of me. Through a series of events I'll keep off the record for the sake of staying free of stalking charges, I'll simply say that I realized that Trisha had experienced a divorce of her own on a timeline very simliar to my own.

Interesting.

A social media message led to an exchange of phone numbers. The exchange of phone numbers led to several days of text messages. Text messages led to dinner.

It was nuts. On one hand, we hadn't seen each other in over twenty years. On the other, it was like no time had passed. Through reintroducting ourselves to each other, we learned that our core values in 2020 were very much in line with one another's. We learned that we both had a desire to keep God at the center of our lives and greatly valued our families above all else.

Plus, we learned that after all these years, we still shared a bit of an interest in each other.

In a photo album, I still had a picture of the two of us from back in my college dorm room (seen above). Come to find out, Trisha still had the same photo as well as some of the letters we had exchanged over two decades ago.

It was becoming clear that this was something more than just two old friends catching up as we both began to recognize there's a certian point where you stop believing in coincidence. There was no doubt we were about to reap a harvest. I've often described my mindset at that time in these simple terms: "When you know, you know. You know?"

And we knew.

So on August 8th -- at 1:43pm -- we exchanged our vows and our two families became one.

Do right. Don't give up. And you'll reap a harvest when the time is right.

Welcome back to the Summer of Tim...