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20 years ago, I graduated high school

Good Memorial weekend Friday to you friend :)

Twenty years ago this week I graduated high school... the class of 2000! it feels really weird to say that. I've hit the age where I'm definitely the older man, "Dad" in the equation of the younger people's lives. I still feel like a kid... hell, I still act like one I know that! haha..

Facebook and all the social media giants and culture have eliminated high school reunions entirely. I think our 10 year suggested we meet up at a bar or something... of which I did not attend. Makes me wonder if when society gets passed all this covid-lockdown stuff that we might actually have one?... I'd be half tempted to participate... but not a bar.

Throughout my childhood teachers would remind us of how lucky we were to be the class of 2000. Thankfully I was held back in kindergarten so I could graduate in 2000... haha!

I never gave "graduating" highschool much thought honestly. I was excited, but never delved into the absolute joy of being free or just done with school. I'm bummed to report though I don't have my 2000 tassel or any pictures of that night, or a picture of me in my cap and gown.. I know.. sucks.

I tore my house apart looking for this actual photo.. but can't find it.. so this will have to suffice. :)

Peoria High School's class of 2000

Friends either called me "Arnold" (because of weight lifting) or they called me "Brill-o pad".. cause I had a jarhead hair cut. :).. clearly shown here!

While in high school I wasn't very popular, but I did get along with a lot of people. As the years would continue I would find myself more and become much more socially confident. I had the same click of friends since grade school and if you knew me, you knew of them. It wasn't until graduating did I come to understand how well known and liked I was.

I remember just a couple years ago I was helping clients coordinate flooring in their new home. I met the design lady at the house and started normal conversations. In about 15 minutes of getting to talking she said "you don't remember me do you?"... I was hella taken back.. feeling overwhelmed with that I cautiously said, no I'm sorry I don't... you do look familiar now that you say something... She said her name and I was still not sure, but then when she said she went to Peoria High School and such then BAM! I could connect the dots... but man! talk about feeling like a total arrogant asshole! hahahh

In high school I didn't play sports but was mildly involved. When I was a sophomore I played football then quit before our first game. I wasn't a fan of yelling.. didn't feel like the right way to motivate people. at the time and still to this day it made no sense to me. Thereafter I was called quitter all the time until mid Junior year.. "sup quitter", "hey quitter"

The football health physical was good for a full year, so I played tennis.. :) no yelling! :)

I barely made the cut in this pic.. I was so dope with my sideways/backwards hat!

The commentary below my picture is SO LAME! Someone was literally trying to come up with something "just" positive! haha :) I also think they spelled "flyes" wrong.. HAH!

Both my freshman and sophomore year I was the manager of the girls varsity soccer team.. talk about the odd one on the bus! I'm happy to report I was very much a gentleman. I can only wonder how many of the girls thought I was gay?! hahah..

I hadn't started weight lifting until Junior year. I was really reluctant to do so. I'm happy I did though... I had the chance to make all the meat head football friends I didn't get to by not playing. I still don't regret not playing football.

By the time I was a senior I was in weight lifting 7 times a week... 5 for lifting and the other 2 as a coaches admin. I remember ditching weights so I could go to drafting class and draw more.... (weird cause I'd still rather design than do any kind of gym stuff) hahah! My coach ended up pulling me aside and asked why are you leaving my class so much?.. I miss your Arnold Swartezenagger energy in here and want and need you in here. That really affected me.. Thereafter he only ever addressed me as Arnold. He would take roll call as Arnold.. people would start calling me Arnold all without ever knowing my real name. Being called quitter because of football stopped entirely. By the time I was a seinor there were rumors of me having been on steroids due to my gains. haha! that was interesting!

When I started high school I was 5'-9", 129lbs
and when I enrolled for my senior year I was 6'-1", 225lbs.

Snapshots from all my ID's through those years:

When I was a junior I asked Coach to sign my yearbook, he had said no and that he only signs senior's books.. I was bummed, but respected it. I remember wondering what he would write in my book when that time came.

As I was going though this 20 year back in a time loop this morning I found where he signed...

I'm probably going to frame this. I've not re-read this in damn near 20 years. Meaningful words through the eyes of an adult now. Maybe I should start going to the gym again in honor/respect to such words. I've not come across him since graduating either.

This year, 2020, throughout the neighborhoods you can see that families have flagged their house in a way signifying that there is a senior in their home. Aside from family based tagging done on a graduates car, this kind of banner out front is a new thing of celebration. In light of the global shut down of sorts, the kids of 2020 did get short changed in their experience. I know parents and grandparents did too. Kudos to those trying to make it what they can.

The night I graduated I remember going to the girl next door's house. We had been good friends from the 6th grade, now, (then) 6 years later I'm there for the first time hanging out with all the cheerleader friends. That was a complete first for me... especially comparing the climate of being with the soccer girls. Probably a good thing too! allowed me to stay humble. hahah! As strange as that memory is, my friend and I are still on a first name basis.. even though living states away, families of our own, we still have each other's phone number.

Later that evening I would leave the house of cheerleaders to go hang with the guys. This ironically was the start of parties for me. Never did so all through high school.. but I guess you gotta start sometime. haha!

Crazy recalling that night... especially as I sit here, and type from my home now.

There was nothing out here at that time... but still to this day, that part of the desert is still empty. Everytime I pass the hill of the canal I look to my right and can see that night and all the others being with my friends during that time.

Amazing how in life the relationships that hang and those that don't. Today I might have 5 numbers of friends that I hung out with as a kid and into high school. My best friend to this day is a best friend I had that I met in the 9th grade. His family is our family, so much so, god forbid anything happen to Chas and I, the boys will go to his family.

I try to lead Avin with the understanding that high school right now only means so much.. because when life kicks in afterwards, it will have no measure of who you are now, or even were then. The challenge for me is that I didn't care about it the way he does.. So I try to remind myself of that as we deal with these kinds of new parenting challenges only found in having high school children.

I feel bad for the class of 2020 students. Covid really robbed them of such an opportunity. Thankfully they are at least born in a time on this planet to do whatever, become whomever they want in a way that was so very hard generations ago. Thank the heavens that the students of today don't have to face what the students of the Vietnam generation did.. that window of time 18 year old students were drafted out of high school right into the war.. many of them didn't come back. That makes my heart hurt.

This week's reminder of school graduating has brought my 20 year adult life after high school to top of mind. I remember when I was working in my first real job out of college, I was without a doubt "the kid" at the lunch table. I'm sitting around the project managers and field supervisors.. there we are pounding away on lunch... I'm not sure why the philosophical thought came to mind... well, if you know me, that doesn't need inspiration.. anyway hahaha,

I said something like "I don't want to wake up 20 - 30 years later, be 30 - 50 pounds overweight, have three kids I don't know where they came from, be in a job I can't stand, and stop and think, shit?!... where did the time go?? What have I done??".... as SOON! as I was done running my mouth, they all stopped eating... paused, looked down at themselves and stomachs, and said "What the hell Josh?! What are you getting at?" hahah! then everyone bursted into laughter. I'm not sure where the conversation went from there, but it was hella funny, and I've never forgotten it.

Here I am 20 years later, almost long enough in time to start thinking about that lunchtime convo in a much more real sense. I am proud to say though, I do remember a lot of where that time went... even without trying. Looking back I'm not sure if it was that momentous conversation about not wanting something and being unconsciously aware of it enough to help not make that happen, I'm not sure... I'd like to think that but life is a really strange run... I can only imagine what it'd be like to look down and see your life as a map, which routes you took, milestones that affected one's trajectory or brought them to a grinding halt...

I know for a fact I wouldn't be the person I am today had it not been for Chas. Her southern charm and hospitality has grounded me and made me appropriately softer.. I can see that now in my business life.

Having Avin changed me. Had his birth control breach not shown up, I believe I would have been too selfish in life to ever have children.

Then Tristan... it took so long for me to want to love another person as much as I did his brother. Today I can't think of life without the two of them.

Just before Tristan was born, 10 years ago this coming Wednesday... I started on a self improvement change in myself. I was not going to be such a stiff with things, to lighten up, step into the uncomfortable, find myself without forcing it.

We lost our first house to a short sale in 2010.. Tristan was 2 months old, we were in almost $100,000 in debt, had sold our family truck for equity to pay first and last month's rent on the house, and buying an old ass beater 90 honda accord that leaked oil more than Bison's mouth after drinking from the pool. In that same month of time I had just started a new job/career, re-opened up the water feature business, for extra income (Chas was at home with the boys). Having lost many things, starting over, cleaning up the mess painfully and intentionally so... is a time I will not forget.

My buddy Chris Pike. (RIP)... it was his funeral that pulled me, lead me further down this different kind of self discovery. Already being 3 or so years into it after Tristan was born, Chris's funeral changed me. It made me look inside and promise myself that I would never attend another funeral that needed to change my life.

I believe it gave me the courage to take the risk of being self employed in an industry I had never done before. All the while backed by the need to prepare for what I did not know.

The passing of my grampa Gary (RIP), the passing of Chas's Mom (RIP)... although sad and life changing, I am still on the same course set by the passing of my buddy Chris.

There's so much of the 20 years that's happened in life, but those just above have been the most impacting to me. When you're talking to someone at work, you're new, they've been there for 20 years.. you're like MAN! that's a shit load of time!!.. but here I sit.. 20 years in life compared to the new graduates of this week.. .the time goes by fast, so fast... but it's a slow man's game. Life is a marathon, not a sprint.

It took my 20's to figure out how difficult and shitty life can be..which I needed... then my 30's to realize more what I don't want to do... now as I approach 40 (not there yet) I believe I know enough of what I want to do and will keep after it.. I have no clue what 20 years from now looks like. I send thoughts to the heavens that I will be here in another 20 so I can re-read this post and tell myself the same thing...

life moves fast, you best be paying attention.

Regardless of all the changes these 20 years have bestowed onto me, as I look inside my heart and head, I believe without a doubt, I'm still the same person, just better. :)

The road ahead is unknown.. the best we can do is approach it with an open mind and full heart. Thanks for going back in time with me! :)

Have a grateful Memorial Day Weekend! :) We have a lot to be grateful for.

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