A Time Machine

Every Saturday night, I play a gig at a resort in Carlsbad, CA.  The place is called Park Hyatt Aviara Resort.  I live in Long Beach, so it normally takes me about an hour or two to get there, depending on traffic, and about an hour on the way back.

I used to listen to music most of the way there.  It varies.  I normally do some vocal warmups when I'm feeling studious.  However, as of late, I've been calling my friends to talk while I drive.  It's a great time to catch up with everyone I love.

At any rate, one such conversation with one of my friends brought back a memory from my childhood. 

I attended an elementary school in Visalia called Crestwood.  I grew up right across the street from that school, which was pretty cool.  It was a giant playground right across from my house, so it was the perfect place to meet people and to engage in things to do.  Play basketball.  Play baseball.  Just play.  I really enjoyed playing sports growing up.  I dreamed of being a professional athlete for a small stint.

I was a very shy kid.  In some regards, I still am.  I try to get myself out of my comfort zone as much as possible, but, it's a constant effort to break out of that mold.  Perhaps you can relate.  Perhaps not.

I spent much of 5th grade and 6th grade recess playing football with my classmates.  I made what I thought at the time, were friends, participating in this daily activity.  It was fun.  I continued my efforts to reach out to some of these individuals, through extra curricular activities like Boy Scouts of America.  I enjoyed it very much, because it helped me to meet people and get out of my shell a bit, and I learned about survival and the wilderness. 

However, I made a mistake, as we all do, one day.  I upset my father with this mistake, and as punishment, he forced me to quit Boy Scouts of America.  The mistake I made was contrary to the code of conduct and ethics instilled in its participants.  Because of this, it affected by ability to further connect with my peers.

A few years later, during junior high, I tried my best to reconnect with one of the kids that I was in Boy Scouts of America with.  However, my efforts were met with a lack of enthusiasm.  I was bullied by this individual.  He took every opportunity possible to try and pick a fight with me.  It started as verbal putdowns, and eventually grew into physical engagements such as throwing basketballs at my head during P.E. or a shove to the ground for no reason.  I tried my best to not engage in what he wanted, which was a fight.  Instead, I just accepted the punishment and ridicule.  I didn't want to be hurt, but I certainly didn't want to be his enemy either.  I gave up and kept my distance from him, as I assumed that my absence from his life would better suit the both of us, and I was scared of what I might do if I allowed myself to become angry.  He was the son of the Cub Scout master I had in elementary school.  I wanted to be his friend, but he didn't reciprocate that desire.  So, we never became friends.

I went about life.  Found things I loved, like music.  I would see him from time to time.  We would not engage each other, even in junior college.

One day, I was talking to a mutual friend of ours in junior college.  He asked me why I didn't talk to Paul.  I explained to him that my efforts were never reciprocated, and told the story I just told you. 

Our mutual friend, as adults typically do, explained to me that Paul had a bit of a rough go growing up.  His father was not very kind to him.  Paul's father physically and verbally abused him.

I was crushed by this information.  As a twenty year old, I looked back on Paul's behavior growing up, and realized that he was in a great deal of pain at that time.  It had nothing to do with me.  

To this day, I can't possibly process all the intricacies of what it is to be a human being.  What it is to put yourself in someone else's shoes.  I try my best.  Any frustration or anger I felt towards Paul, was replaced with anguish and sympathy for what he inherited.

I'm thirty seven years old now, driving back from a gig in Carlsbad.  Music off.  I'm just thinking.  Remembering my life.  Building a time machine constructed of human experience.  This time machine can only travel to where I've been.  I travel to my past.  I have yet to manifest a future to travel to.

I've made a lot of mistakes that I regret.  I wonder how many times I have been the Paul to someone else's life, without even realizing it.  

I'm not sure that I will ever see him again.  But, should I ever, given the opportunity, I would love to get to know you.  Wherever you are, wherever the journey in life has taken you, I hope this finds you happy and well.  You deserve it.  We all do.  The future is what we make of it.

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