OH, the Places You’ll Go….

“Do ya miss me?” the text came on my phone as I was starting my last half hour of an hour of cardio at the gym. It was Dirk, of course, who I’d seen earlier that day with his skateboarding buddy, Doz who’d both worked out with me right after he’d got out of class. The gap between seeing each other was about three hours – just long enough for me to eat and recupe from the weight workout, take a fifteen minute snooze and head back into the gym for the cardio.
The two of them, Dirk and Doz, had made spectacular asses of themselves in the gym shower using it as a naked stage to sing and dance (shaking booties qualifies as dance in this venue) and they’d attracted the attention of quite a few of the guys in the locker room as an audience. Most people see them as good-natured clowns and they are harmless and funny, but I was also naked and in between them and shaky from the workout so I left the wet, echoing stage shaking my head, pretending I’d been caught between two strange strangers. I wasn’t in the mood for people staring at me naked at the moment just because the spectacle surrounded me.
It has been almost four years since I was catapulted alone back into the world trying to make a “new life”. Those two words to anyone beginning again after the age of forty are instruments of terror.  But I was bold and “courageous” – I like to tell myself, and I stepped into my new shoes and began the walk without any clue where it was heading. In my mind I’d come to several concrete conclusions – no matter what happened I’d be fine; and that I’d do things alone from that moment on. I was a writer and a photographer. I didn’t need people in my life. People are dangerous. People will let you down. People can hurt you. I think I could do without the perils of people from now on. I had me to work on. I wanted to make the best me there was. That would be my project. It was like a solitary confinement sentence without the prison walls.
Anyone who goes through a sudden life-style change knows you have stages to it. First you’re overwhelmed and overstimulated by everything being different. Your routines are gone; the semblance of normality is replaced by trying to find a new normality. The good thing about being a writer is that when things didn’t feel normal to me I immersed myself in my words and the world they could create separate from the one I was being forced to live in. I didn’t feel lonely yet because anger was still keeping me company, but I was very much aware that no matter where I went I was sitting at that table by myself. There is a despair that accompanies that realization as you eat your dinner or sip your coffee and watch others having conversations that the majority of people never comprehend, until situations like my own, how isolated the human condition can be sometimes.
Psychologically I’m a very strong person. Nothing much scares me and I’m determined as hell – if any one of you ever see me work out you will know that. My workouts became the hammer striking the iron that built my suit of armor that I needed to stand the test of strength required for this new journey.
So you see I was creating a new routine: rebuilding Dan. I’d get up and write, run or workout, come back and write some more.. head back to the gym for the evening to work off the stimulation and crawl in bed waiting to start it all over again. Most people would call it self-centered… I called it centering myself. And for the most part it worked. My time was filled up. I got work done. I looked better and was stronger than I’d been in ten years. Life “alone” was … okay. I could handle it I thought.
And then as you all know, this teenaged kid blew into my life suddenly. Dirk. He wanted to pick my brain as a photographer to speed up his own learning process on the subject in school. And I really didn’t want someone invading my life. I had nothing to offer anyone. At least I thought that. I felt dull and boring. I had nothing in common with someone who skateboarded and listened to Bieber. I was trying to settle into a comfortable numbness and here was the cartoon Tasmanian Devil whirling into my life with a million questions, invading my space, filling up my silence with endless chatter. I really didn’t think he’d make it a week before I gave him the heave-ho. His endless enthusiasm only reminded me of the fact that I had none.
A month later I was contemplating  as I stood outside my loft waiting for him to skateboard up the street, how I would break it to him that he should find someone else to apprentice with.  I watched as he snaked down the street to me waving wildly when he saw me, wearing that grin that could split a face. He was head-to-toe in the baggiest sweats I’d ever seen anyone wear, the bottoms of which were tied with shoe laces so they didn’t drag over his shoes. He was wearing a cap that had writing on it. I recognized it as something from Dr. Seuss. It said: “Oh, the Places You’ll go!”
I don’t know why, call it an epiphany, but seeing those words on the cap after so many years struck me very hard at that moment… especially on the head of that fresh, freckled and smiling face. Seuss is something Dirk and I had in common, and I could still quote many of his books, but that one in particular seemed so appropriate at the time.
Congratulations!
Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!
….and then later a verse..
Out there things can happen
and frequently do
to people as brainy
and footsy as you.
And then things start to happen,
don’t worry. Don’t stew.
Just go right along.
You’ll start happening too.OH!
THE PLACES YOU’LL GO!

I’m glad I let this kid, now this great friend and muse in my life. I looked down at the text that read: “Do ya miss me?” and I typed.. “Sure do!”