“I guess in a way, you always end up right back where you started…”

I guess in a way, you always end up right back where you started. Take me: I’m 33 years old. I’m married; I’m a homeowner; I have two furry children named Pandora and Roxy (cats, of course, not abnormally hairy human children) and my first human child on the way. A daughter to be named Cara Angelina Marsh. Incidentally, for those of you that are wondering why Nicole and I chose that name:

Cara: Italian: “Beloved”; Irish: “Friend.” Significance? Nicole has always liked it.

Angelina: Italian derivative of Angela: “Angel”; no Irish meaning (of course not! What Irish name ends in an “a”?). Significance? Nicole’s 94 year old grandmother—“Mom-Mom”—is named Angelina.

“Beloved Angel.” You can’t go wrong with something that meaningful, can you? Of course not. But this is my daughter we’re talking about. We could name her after one of the Garbage Pail Kids and I’d still think it was the most beautiful name in the world. Incidentally, the first person that calls my daughter Virus Iris or Wacky Jackie is going to end up with my size 12 boot up their ass and my fist in their pie-hole. Capice?

Sorry, I digress. It’s been difficult to contain my excitement at mine and Nicole’s expectant arrival, and that’s not what I set out to write about this afternoon.

I guess in a way, you ALWAYS end up right back where you started…

Take the other day: I ran out of sh*t to do at work. Rather than sit at my desk and twiddle my thumbs for the last hour of the day, I moseyed in to the warehouse… the empty warehouse… and swept the floor. I didn’t just sweep the damn thing, though. I spit-polished the damn thing… “shined it up real nice for ya’” I told my boss the following morning. He laughed. But deep down inside, I’d wager he was cursing my sarcasm. It probably didn’t help that I concluded our conversation with, “after a while, I was just pushing around 25 years of dirt.” Warm Regards, Frank Marsh, Office Manager/Inside Sales Rep, COMPANY NAME REMOVED FOR LIABILITY REASONS.

Warm Regards, my ass. In this economy? Maybe it would have been better if I simply reported that the warehouse was swept. No need for sarcasm, though admittedly: asking me… ME… to not be sarcastic is like asking Ashcan Andy to save the universe. Sh*t, R2D2 did it, why not him? But I digress…

I guess in a way, you ALWAYS end up right back where you started. I’m no stranger to hard work, though some might say otherwise about my “college-educated ass.” My first job was as an afterschool janitor at my grade school. I was 11 years old and working for 15 dollars a week—under the table, of course. Mom was a single, working mother; Katie (my sister) was eight; if I wanted spending money, I had to work. And I did… begrudgingly. I was an overweight, out of shape broom handler in a Catholic grade school who spent the first $2.00 of his paycheck at the candy store, the next $10.00 on cassette tapes in the bargain bin at K-Mart, and the final $2.00 at the candy store the following Thursday. That was me: that was my life at 11…

Now, at 33, everything has come full circle. Now, at 33, I find myself once again as nothing more than a glorified broom handler. At work, I clean sh*t up: that’s my modis operandi. I’m a proverbial Hydraulic and/or Pneumatic “Pooper Scooper.” Under normal circumstances, you’d probably think me one miserable motherf*cker.

Truth is? Up until I started sweeping the warehouse, I was. I hated my job. All the good sh*t that had been happening in my life lately paled in comparison to my daily grind. But something happened to me while I was pushing that splintery, aging broom across the floor. I started to feel at peace for the first time in a long time. I’d just completed my last graduate level class (EDUC 512: Cross-Curricular Geography… fun!); I was planning a weekend sojourn to Longwood Gardens with my wife on either Saturday or Sunday (it ended up being on Saturday). Save for an undergraduate Macroeconomics class that still hangs over my head for the next month and a half like a cloud of buzzing gnats (Macro blows!), my time—when not at work—is, once again, my own. Best that I enjoy it now, ‘cause once Cara gets here in July, my free-time will likely be quickly supplanted by responsibility. And I welcome that… I’ve been waiting a long time to be a dad, and finally, I’m going to get my opportunity.

I felt at peace. Not just relaxed mind you… oh no… completely and totally at peace. Anyone that’s ever experienced one of these moments knows what I’m talking about. I used to have them often: that moment when your mind, heart and soul suddenly feel as light as the air; that moment when a completely unexpected but incredibly welcome sense of euphoria rushes over you for no reason. All your aches and pains disappear and you open your eyes wide… wider than you’ve ever opened them before. It was one of those moments when everything seemed clear… crystalline. Like looking through a veil of tropical sea-water and seeing the smallest, most miniscule pebble as it waivers back and forth on the white sand below. Only the water is the goddamn, proverbial fog that you’ve existed in for… well sh*t, I can’t even begin to tell you how long. Suddenly and without warning, everything clicks in to place. I call it serendipity.

FYI: I know my friends. I know that one or more of you reading this are going to say that the feeling I’m describing is not serendipity. Some wise-ass out there is going to say that I got off on sweeping the warehouse. To that person—I’m looking at you, jerky—let me simply reiterate my statement from earlier: 12 inch boot up the ass, fist in pie-hole. Allow me a rare moment of writer’s bliss before I return to my aforementioned daily grind.

The moment didn’t last long. Maybe a few seconds, maybe less. But it happened. Since, I’ve been feeling different… a lot different. I feel more energized; I still have the same aches and pains that I’ve has for a while (they’re actually pretty bad today, but we won’t go there), but they’re minimized comparatively. And this afternoon, I suddenly got the urge to write. This little composition is simply an amuse bouche (sp? Anyone know French?): I have plans.

Don’t all scream at once.

The last time I had plans, I ended up writing a trilogy of novels which no one save for two people (I remembered to include you this time, Steve) read. I don’t think that my plans, as tentative as they are presently, are quite that ambitious. It’ll be interesting to see where they lead. For now, though? They’re simply thoughts. But my thoughts are quickly becoming a conspiracy to overthrown my rational, broom handling mind. Viva la mental revolution! I swear, if my daughter understands me even half as much as Nicole does (no one quite “gets me” on most levels like her), then I’ll be one happy, living and breathing facsimile of a smiley face.

But I digress…

I need to stop doing that.

I finished my circuit of the warehouse with little more than ten minutes left in the day (it’s not really a big warehouse). By then, the moment had passed and the familiar fog/aches and pains had already begun seeping back in to my body. But my brain was on overdrive. I started formulating my plan. A new story idea was only one aspect of it. I started formulating a life plan for me, for Nicole… for our daughter-to-be, Cara. I started thinking about where I wanted us to go, and what I wanted us to do. Who’da ‘thunk it? Manual labor, the equivalent of Little Baby Touch-and-Go from “Heroes” (not a Garbage Pail Kid)? I was pretty shocked. Never forget: I’m the guy who, between school and work, lives on his computer. In essence, I started looking ahead, something I’ve been seemingly incapable of doing for the last few months. And what did I discover in the ether beyond my daily grind?

BULLET POINT ONE: I have a steady job, albeit a sometimes frustrating one. The same can not be said of many out there in the really, really real world, right now. It pays me relatively well and allows me the time to embrace and enjoy my life again. Friends; family… over the last year plus, these things have been, sadly, supplemental to school and work. No longer. That all changed on Saturday with the first Marsh family sojourn to Longwood Gardens, Bertucci’s. Kohls, Babies ‘R Us, Champs in King of Prussia and finally, “I Love You Man,” on the big screen. Great flick, by the way. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a good laugh.

BULLET POINT TWO: I’m done with school for a while after Macro ends in May. At least until Cara’s at least a year or so old. A few of you reading this might be disappointed by this decree. To those who are, let me say this: priorities, priorities, priorities. My uncle got his MA at 35 and his PhD at 45. If I’m meant to teach one day, I will. If not? Well, I’m also meant to be a good husband and a father… a provider in whatever capacity that I can be. Call it my primal instinct or simply the grounding in reality that my mother provided me with at an early age: growing and nurturing my family is the most important thing for me to focus on right now. Don’t worry dissapointees: I will finish school one day. Just not now. I’ve got a baby’s room to paint and a pregnant wife to take care of in the interim.

BULLET POINT THREE: Life’s too short to worry about every little thing. In the immortal words of Marley, “every little thing, gonna’ BE alright.” I’ve seen more death and sickness in the last year than I can remember ever seeing before. Some have come through it, others have not. One or two are still fighting their own life battles. It disheartens me to see people that I care about suffering; my menial little issues seem irrelevant when stacked against theirs’. But if I’ve learned anything in the last year, it’s that life really is short on this bright and shiny, blue and green bouncing ball that we inhabitants that exist on this side of the proverbial wormhole of existence call “Earth.” We should really, and I mean really embrace what time we have. Though my desire for immortality for all the people that I care about remains, I understand better now that my mortal coil is about to turn 34 this year. “Time to start livin’… time to take a little from this world we’re given…” Can anyone name that tune? Anyone? It’s from “Pippin.” Kind of the Broadway equivalent of “I Love You Man” but with dancing dudes in tights. Yes, I was in it. No, I did not wear tights. I don’t think…

I returned to my desk after sweeping the warehouse and settled in for the last seven minutes or so of my day. I checked my email: no messages. I checked my company Intranet: no new information to process or share with my office. I even popped on Facebook for a “tic.” Save for the latest trials and tribulations of the P.P.R.B.M., there was nothing new to report on there either. Someone had thrown a water balloon at me (I can’t remember who, but I’m looking at you, jerky). Nicole had “superpoked” me. I threw a water balloon animal back at my assailant and sent my wife a bear hug, along with an extra one for little, baby Cara (who, incidentally, was mistaken for a concealed weapon once again today as Nicole boarded her flight home from Pittsburgh). I reveled in the residual effects of my moment of serendipity before logging off and heading home for the evening. My daily grind had officially ended for two days…

And there was much rejoicing: “yay.”

Is there a moral to this story? This little piece of Mental Flatulence that has helped to fill a slow afternoon at work? I could have gone back and swept the warehouse again, but admittedly? The dirt was exactly where it was last Friday, and I still haven’t been able to pry out the splinter in my palm. So I decided to write. Writing without abandon: something I haven’t done much of in the last year. Love me or hate me, hopefully you didn’t think that I had given up on my art/obsession. Writing is a part of who I am, just like teaching will be a part of who I am… one day.

Being a good husband and one day soon, a good father is also who I am.

Hard work is an indispensible part of my mentality. A college education did not, can not, and will never change that.

Sarcasm is also an indispensible part of my personality. Deal with it, jerky.

As an 11 year old child, I was not only a broom handler, but I was also an avid collector of Garbage Pail Kids. I had at least a dozen Ashcan Andy’s because he reminded me of R2D2. R2D2 is, in my opinion the true hero of the “Star Wars” movies. Luke/Anakin Skywalker be damned!

Wishing immortality on the people I love is a part of who I am.

In my subjective reality on this side of the proverbial wormhole of existence, family and friends are interchangeable. I pray for both, equally.

Serendipity is not simply a so-so “Rom-Com” starring John Cusack… it’s an actual state of mind. May each and every one of you reading this—and those not reading this—experience it at some point in your respective lifetimes if you haven’t already.

I also have a plan. Don’t all scream at once.

“Wus” and farewell, mis amis (sp? Sh*t, does anyone speak French?).


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