I am so stoked about the holidays. A lot of people sort of dread them. The cliches, far as I can tell, involve dreading seeing family, dreading spending money on people you rarely see, dreading spending time around people you don't really care to see, yada de yada. Not me, man. I can't wait to see my family. This is why.
The past three years, I've been working my butt off. Been busier than Justin Bieber's bodyguards in a mall. (Ignoring, for the sake of that metaphor, the fact that no way the Biebs ever actually goes to a mall.) Writing, writing, writing, hustling for more paid work, spending days at a time in front of my computer, drinking too much coffee, typing until my hands cramp and my eyes cross.
Spending way too little time with my friends and family. Seriously, it's like I never see them. And that sort of sucks, because most of my family is only like an hour away, and so is my best friend, and yeah, we never see each other. It's pretty lame.
And on top of it all, back in August I started grad school. Whoo.
I mean, that's what I've had to do to survive. My wife and I both. When you graduate into statistically the worst economy ever for college graduates, that's just sort of what you have to do. I guess that like everything else in life, choosing one thing means giving up something else, and the past few years, that something else has been time with our families.
I'm happy with the way the past few years have gone. I've gotten to do some really amazing things, meet amazing people, gotten some amazing breaks. I'm writing narrative journalism for national and international magazines. That's phenomenal.
But I miss the people who've made it all possible.
I was talking to my brother, Kramer, about this a few weeks ago. About how much it sucked that my wife and I barely get to see our families, and that we don't get to take all these amazing trips we've talked about taking ever since we started dating all those years ago, and blah blah blah.
He said, dude, don't worry about it. You do what you have to do right now. You'll have the rest of your life for all that other stuff. And he's right. I know that people won't be around forever, and we've had some loss lately. But I also believe they understand. Or at least, I hope they do. Because to live the rest of our lives as great as we want, we have to first build a foundation on which to stand. And construction requires putting on the coveralls and getting dirty and spending way too much time working.
My wife and mine's parents are happy I've done what I've done, that we're doing what we're doing. They want us to make our own lives, to make the most out of the opportunities they've given us, and quite honestly, that's one of the biggest driving forces behind my obsessive work ethic. It is. I owe them that. But moreover, I just want to make them happy by making the most out of the opportunities they've given me. I know they get that. I imagine when I have kids, one of the greatest feelings ever will be watching them grow up and become adults and make their mark in the world and become a success. So I'm just trying to do all I can to make that happen for mine.
Not to say life is all work. I've been pretty lucky to meet some rad folks this semester. That's the one part of school that I forgot I liked so much. Meeting people.
Plus, Katie got a phenomenal new job.
Things are going really, really well.
I've just been thinking a lot lately about the fact that, as important as work is, as important as a foundation is, as defined as our lives are by our careers—for better or worse—there are still plenty of things just as if not more important. And so we see this as just one stage in life, a season of work to set up a lifetime of joy.
Holy crap. That was so Hallmark-y I almost deleted it. Why does the truth have to be so cheesy sometimes?
Anyway. That's life. For us, anyway.
* * *
If you're interested, here's quick list of some stories recently published or soon to be:
- "Nobody Walks Alone" — ESPN: The Magazine — Oct. 2011
- "The First Legend" — SLAM magazine — Out this week
- "Reliving the Freedom Dream" — Our State (NC) magazine — Dec. 2011 (out now)
- Not Yet Titled Secret Cover Story — The Red Bulletin — Jan. 17, 2012
- Not Yet Titled ESPN: The Magazine story — Sometime in early 2012