Monday, September 29, 2008

Houses, Yards, Dogs & Wives

There are few things pure in this world anymore,and home is one of the few.
We'd have a drink outside, maybe run and hide if we saw a couple men in blue.
To me it's so damn easy to see that true people are the people at home.
Well, I've been away but now I'm back today, and there ain't a place I'd rather go.
I feel home, when I see the faces that remember my own.
I feel home, when I'm chilling outside with the people I know.
I feel home, and that's just what I feel.
Home to me is reality, and all I need is something real.

"I Feel Home," Of A Revolution

If there was one good thing to come out of me losing my job in Houston, it was that it allowed me much more time at my friend Austin's wedding. I've learned over the years that I will develop different bonds with different groups of friends. The bond I had with my college friends will be unlike anything else and the bond I have with the guys I grew up will be unlike anything else. None of us could remember the last time we were all together but it had been definitely four years plus, so Austin's wedding was a highly anticipated event. You don't realize what kind of friendships you have until you don't have them anymore. It wasn't until I moved to Houston, TX and didn't know a single person when I discovered this. So now that I didn't have a job or a boss to report to, I decided to take some time and spend some time with the people I know and the people that make me feel at home.

My first stop on my way to Ft. Wayne, IN landed me in Indianapolis on Wednesday where I planned to have lunch with my college friend Dave. I hadn't seen this guy since his wedding last summer. In addition to his wife, he has a house, a yard and a dog. When you're still living the bachelor's life those objects are things you laugh at because it's what "old men" have. However, Dave does not match this stereotype at all. He is still the crazy, tall, goofy kid with glasses and a chest hair problem that I remember from college. Yet, he's so clever that he guilt-tripped me into staying over night so we could hang out longer. I now got to see another college friend, Matt, because of my extended stay. He's in dental school and wasn't free until later in the evening. We ate nasty, greasy Chinese food and acted like college-aged morons. They kept heckling me: "John, you got to move to Indy! We'd have so much fun!" Definitely a tempting offer and one I'll consider if the right opportunity comes along. Unfortunately the night came to an end and it was time to go.

Thursday morning the plan was to meet high school bud Greg at Huntington Reservoir to go mountain biking. Greg and I had always been into the outdoors and high adventure thing. We he started mountain biking a few years ago, we always talked about riding together but we were just now getting to it for the first time. We rode the 12 mile loop just once and once was enough because of how unfit we were. Besides, we still had to get ready for Austin's bachelor party. We picked up tuxedos still covered in sweat and grime from the mountain bike ride, we were on a mission and had a limited amount of time. After quick runs to the grocery, liquor and cigar stores we the essential gear for the bachelor party and one more thing ... we were going chucker hunting.

The rally point was the groom's dad's barn outside of Ossian, IN. The location was place where hillbillies go to get away from it all. Once everyone showed up the scene looked like Dukes of Hazzard on steroids. Trucks, gun, camo and a bunch of good ol' boys ready to hunt. This was my first hunt and I soon learned why hunters rave about hunting. Although I can't quite describe me emotions, bird hunting is addicting. I was just getting warmed up when the sun set behind the trees and ended our hunt. After that, it was back to the barn for a feast of food, light domestic cold beer and cheap cigars. As the beer flowed, so did the stories and dirty jokes. I heard jokes that were so disturbing that they made me want to go church the next day. We went back to Austin's house later that night and I met the bride to be for the first time inebriated off my ass.

When Friday morning rolled around, I couldn't help but notice that Austin also had a house, a yard, a dog and soon he would have a wife. Life really starts to get weird when your friends start getting married, especially when you yourself are no where even close to getting married. Anyways, on Friday morning the only things left to be done were the usual wedding stuff: decorating, rehearsal dinner, the wedding itself and the reception. The rehearsal dinner was a hog roast at a lodge on Oubache State Park. The groomsmen all received flasks and we played Nintendo Wii to kill time before the wedding ceremony. The reception was at this place called Camelot way out in the boonies. We danced, we drank, we laughed and had great times that I'm glad I share with my close friends for so many years.

To Austin and Alisha- good luck and I hope I will see you again soon.

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Day from Satan Himself & How the Lord Fought Back

So there I was at a complete standstill like a sitting duck on I-45 northbound towards Dallas. Everyone on the Texas Gulf Coast had decided to get the hell out of dodge and avoid Hurricane Ike's rage. After three hours of stop and go traffic, I had decided to get out of dodge myself- that is, get off the interstate and get some food at a Whataburger. I pulled over, got on the off-ramp and looked for the Whataburger I saw advertised a few miles back. It was no where to be found so I turned around. When I got back to the highway, Texas state trooper had closed to interstate to any more hurricane evacuation traffic. But I wasn't evacuating- I was moving home. Hurricane Ike was a mere coincidence. Either way I would have lost my sanity sitting in that traffic- even with a full stomach. There was only one thing left to do:

Trek it cross country.

I whipped out my map and charted a course that would take me to Ft. Worth, TX where I would stay with a college friend for the night. After a series of state highways and farm roads, I made my way to Highway 6 just south of College Station where I witnessed wide open roads. The speed limit may have been only 55 mph, but I was making progress and putting miles between my and Houston (Hurricane Ike, too). Highway 6 would take me all the way to I-35 which would cruise into Ft. Worth like a warm, summer breeze. Driving through the heartland of America and Smalltown, USA is one of the most enjoyable experiences any traveler can have. People only hear about what happens in the big cities, but everyone dies famous in a small town.

I finally made it to I-35 and I was making good time. After about an hour I was in the Dallas-Ft. Worth metro area, when I felt the trailer I was pulling tug and pull more than normal. I quickly glanced in my rear view mirror and my trailer was flying left to right, back and forth. I thought I hit a pot hole and it would stop. But it keep moving uncontrollably. My adrenaline kicked in. I thought for sure this would end badly for me and the cars around me. I hit my emergency flashers and made my way to the inside should of the road. Sparks flew everywhere. I thought the trailer and everything in it would be totaled. When I examined the scene I discovered the bolt which holds the ball onto the hitch had come loose and ultimately fell off. Nothing held the trailer onto the hitch. One small part was completely crucial and vital to the whole operation. Go figure. I called U-Haul's roadside assistance- one hour for a mechanic plus $200+ for the service. Thankfully I was close enough to my friend's place.

That's when you find out who your friends are.

I sat there in my truck with my face buried in my hands. I lost my grandfather- my job- I had no money and over a thousand miles from home I was stranded on the highway with a banged up U-Haul trailer. I had hit an all time low. I lost all hope, but then my phone rang. It was my college friend asking me where I was because she was worried. I told her what happened and she asked if I was hurt or anything. She told her boyfriend what happened and he said he had a 2-inch ball hitch on his truck and that he drive out and help me. I can't say I know too many people who go help out a complete stranger on the highway.

When I finally arrived at my friend's apartment, she had a grilled cheese, popcorn and a beer waiting for me. She gave me a big hug just thrilled to know I was alive and well after everything that had happened that day. We talked, share stories and reflected on some fond memories of our college days at IU. I hadn't such a meaningful conversation like that in a long time. I felt that my friendship was needed and appreciated again. I was so overjoyed I could have broke down into tears right there in her living room if her boyfriend hadn't been right there.

I awoke the next morning to the ringing of my cell phone. I didn't recognize the number, but I answered anyway. One of my fraternity brothers called to see if was okay with all the hurricane stuff happening and if I had evacuating. Awkwardly, I told that yes I had evacuated Houston, but that it was a permanent evacuation because I lost my job. He was sympathetic to my job situation but took great comfort knowing I was out of harm's way. My friend heard my conversation and seeing I was awake before she had to leave for work, she insisted she buy me breakfast before I hit the road to Oklahoma City. I could have stayed in Ft. Worth for a week because it felt so great to be with such a great friend.

So if you're going through hell, keep on moving- don't slow down-face that fire, because you might be out before the Devil even knows you're there.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Flirting with Disaster

I'm in the midst of preparing my exodus from the prison that has been Houston, Texas for the past year of my life I had forgotten about one small detail.

Hurricane Ike brewing in the Gulf of Mexico.

He had always been there, but I forgot about him because, you know, I lost my job and had to figure out what my plan would be. My decision was to head for home and the Bayou City in my dust. Once my person frenzy concluded and I grew tired of Law and Order re-runs, I watched the local news to discover that Hurricane Ike was knocking on the Texas Coast's door step.

State government officials ordered the mandatory evacuation of Galveston Island this morning. Mandatory evacuation of Houston is expected later this afternoon. All the major highways are already a mess. I-45 N towards Dallas is bumper to bumper. I had to run some errands and fill up my gas tank. The lines at the gas station at 10:30 were 3-4 cars deep.

I can't go anywhere until I get the U-Haul trailer which I reserved for Friday. My friends are supposed to throw me a going-away party tonight but I know of a few of them who have already left town.

Shit is getting real. The next few days could be a true test of wills.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


Well folks there is no point in denying it anymore. I lost my job with the Dynamo last week. In the cut throat world of corporate sales, you're expected to generate a certain number of dollars, and when you don't, well, you get the picture. Yes, I'm disappointed, but I look at it as a blessing in disguise. I didn't really enjoy ticket sales. I did simply to get my foot in the highly competitive door of professional sports. So here I am in Houston, TX with no job, no money and no family.

Where do I go from here.

Good question.

After spending the bulk of last weekend to think about and seek out any other opportunities I have decided it's time for me to come home. Houston was a great place to live for the time being, but I had no desire to stay there. The city is too big and too dirty. I'm sorry, but dealing with crack heads left over from Katrina on a regular basis gets old real quick.

So Friday morning I'm loading a U-Haul trailer and heading for Oklahoma City to spend the weekend with my best friend Cory and his wife (Yes, I said 'wife.' Trust me it trips me out too) before finishing the trek to STL Monday.