I wanted to entitle this piece “Days Gone By,” but it dawned on me as I started typing that that is the title of “The Walking Dead, Season One, Episode One,” and in light of my fervent devotion to that show through it’s good times and bad (and there have been plenty of both), compounded by how incredible an episode it was (and still is) I decided to change it up a bit. Hence the title of this blog post which incorporates it, but does not directly quote it in an effort to pay reverence to it without stealing it. So… Yeah. There you go.
Two years ago today–September 28, 2018–I embarked on a new life journey. It was not a journey I, at that time was very happy about but looking back now, I understand that despite my aversion to it, it was necessary. I was stepping out of my humble little world in and around Broomall, Pennsylvania and into an unknown world of Single Dadhood about 20 minutes away in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania. I was adrenaline-filled but scared; I was relieved but sad. I was beaten but emboldened… Determined to make a life for myself and my minions. I was a walking, talking and breathing hodgepodge of emotions. Not a facsimile of a smiling face but the embodiment of a pensive frown. And that afternoon, after I settled on my new home I came here, and snapped this picture:
I believe this is the first time anyone has seen this picture. I did not post it on social media because at that time, my situation was known only to my closest friends and family. I was not ready to answer questions about where I was, or what I was doing in Swarthmore versus Broomall. Separation, nay divorce is not a fun topic to discuss as anyone that has been through it or is going through it right now will tell you. It wasn’t until almost two months later that I went public across my Social Mediaverse with the truth. While there have been subsequent decisions made that I do regret, I do not regret that one. I needed to be ready. So I waited for the timing to be right, and to this day I appreciate everyone that messaged, called, emailed or texted me thereafter. Booyakasha. Respect.
The subsequent weeks, months and years between September 28, 2018 and now–two years worth of days gone by–have been by far the most challenging and rewarding of my 45+ year life, too date on this side of the proverbial wormhole of existence. I’ve experienced moments of incredible joy and crippling sadness. I’ve changed in ways I never thought possible and I continue to do so, each and every day of my life, even now. I’ve doubted myself and my resolve more times than I can count. I’ve replayed two plus decades of my life in an effort to figure out why and how I ended up here. What did I do wrong? What lessons can be learned and how can I endeavor, ever-onward and not make the same mistakes again?
Such introspection, my friends, family and oft times casual readers is equal parts maddening and cathartic, all in the vain hope of answering questions which, I know now cannot all be answered. I’ve spoken and written in the past about how letting go, for me is difficult. I don’t give up easily and I sure as sh*t don’t walk away from things without resistance. But now? Two years detached from that moment, sitting upon the steps of my deck at my new home (the first new one I’d known in almost 15 years), I understand that not knowing all the answers is okay. Sometimes the key to moving forward is to acknowledge and accept the unknown as something that just happened. Right, wrong… You can micromanage the f*ck out of it if you want but you’ll never know everything. You’ll never have a complete understanding of the “why.” There is only the “is,” as in this is where I am meant to be. It has its perks and drawbacks, but I am here for a reason. Damn the past like you damn the torpedos. My present is all that matters. It, not my past is what should drive me into the vast, undiscovered country that is my future. I see that now. I acknowledge it, and I welcome it.
A few hours after the above picture was taken, my minions came to visit me here for the first time. We ordered Swarthmore Pizza (which has become a most-weekly, Friday night tradition) and sat in my then-empty sunroom with no television… Nothing but our own voices and thoughts to keep us company. I cannot remember what we talked about. After dinner, we wandered down to the corner park at sunset and I watched with joy as they played there for a time. I snapped another picture there that I did share across my Social Mediaverse. This one.
In those waning moments of daylight on September 28, 2018, I remember watching them play. A spring of happiness, mixed with sorrow welled up inside of me. I was sad about what I was leaving behind, but emboldened by the opportunity ahead of me. After they left, and before I returned home to Broomall for the last time–I officially moved out and moved in here the next day–I wrote the following Social Media post:
Change is inevitable. Life is a series of moments that move you in a different direction than you originally intended. Take it from me: You never end up where you thought you’d end up. But how you roll with the changes? How you adapt to the things life throws your way determines the person you become. You can either look back in anger or look forward and believe that there IS A REASON why you are where you are. Embrace the changes. Use them to remake yourself into something new and improved. You Version 2.0. The best version of you you can be.
Every so often, despite our inclination to forget the “was” and focus on the “is,” we need to be reminded of where we were and who we were because oft times, guys and gals, we forget. I’ve worked hard to follow my own advice over the last two years of days gone by. Sometimes I succeed and sometimes? I fail. I fall. Why do we fall? We fall so that we can get back up. And THAT Is the greatest lesson I have learned in the last two years. To fall… To fail is human. How we respond to those moments is what matters. I know that now. I believe it. And if the above quote was my mantra before? Let this be my mantra now. I will always… ALWAYS get back up. For me. For them. For all of you. And my wish this unseasonably warm night in late September from the confines of my bedroom is that you, too, will resolve to do the same.
One last memory before I call it a night. This one is from this afternoon. One, last picture. Me, after two years of days gone by. Me at the end of my lunch break, preparing to resume working from home. Older. Wiser. Sometimes dumber. Definitely grayer and with a bit less hair in the front (but way more on the top, sides and in the back ’cause pandemic hair don’t care!). But still determined. Renewed. Ready. My facsimile of a smile may be gone, but my pensive frown, turned a bit of a grin remains.
I wouldn’t want it any other way. God bless all. And good night.