Since it’s all the rage, I thought I’d sit down and throw together a pseudo-retrospective of the past ten years. Originally it wouldn’t be something that I’d be interested in doing whatsoever. I try very hard to be a “look forward” type of person because nostalgia can be debilitating for me. Give me a box of old photos and you have effectively just thrown me into emotional quicksand. But after reading a few personal and societal retrospectives of the past decade, I realized how much I have experienced and changed.
Let me start off by saying, yes, I am one of those people; The decade technically isn’t over for another 366 days. (Remember that 2020 is a leap year, ya cretins.) So to make up for this, the following is more of a brief recap since December 31, 2009. I figure that’s fair.
Starting on a bright note, ten years ago was the beginning of the end of my marriage. I won’t go too deep into the emotional cauldron apart from saying that I was an absolute master of covering up how much pain I was in. Christopher Wren had nothing on the facades that I was capable of creating to hide how utterly unhappy I was. What I never anticipated was that when the the marriage ended, the facades inevitably crumble. I have since spent the better part of ten years patching up and trying to repair the foundational cracks that were exposed, and in some cases widened.
It really has been a hard journey for me, personally. Now I am willing to concede that a good portion of it was self-inflicted, and it goes without saying that these are undeniably First World Problems, but it doesn’t change the fact that I needed to do something or risk spinning down the drain in a haze of booze-fueled depression. So I’m now seeing a therapist. This in itself is nothing short of a miracle as I’m completely convinced that finding the right therapist is harder than finding your soulmate. So if I have any advice for you folks out there, it’s this: Therapy isn’t failing — it’s getting the right person to help you sort out the mess that we all create inside our own heads.
The past decade also saw me going from being the father of teenagers to the father of young adults. And, if I may say so, they’re pretty spectacular. All of them are so talented and so much fun. I’m so proud of them all. They haven’t had it easy, either. Apart from joining the ranks of the Broken Home Society, they’ve had to contend with being transferred to charter schools in order to get away from horribly administrated public schools, only to have those schools be forced to close for one reason or another and we’d have to start the process all over again. Even when my sons went to college, that school closed without any warning, and we had to make a mad dash to have them enrolled in a school that offered a similar degree program.
My daughter recently moved in with her boyfriend. He’s a pretty decent guy and their relationship seems to be one in which anyone would be envious. Not the “honeymoon period” nonsense, where the couple coos at one another relentlessly, or snogs heavily in public places to the point of nauseating onlookers, but the real stuff that powers relationships: communication and trust. I’m very interested to see where life takes them from here. By all appearances they’re far ahead of where I was at their age.
Both of my sons graduated from college this year with degrees in music production. As a person who has been known to dabble in music, myself, looking at where they are right now is simply amazing. They both have such amazing ears for music. To think that they’ve only just started in their careers, to have armed themselves with knowledge and working experience, and have so much opportunity ahead of them is the kind of thing this old metal head could’ve only dreamed of when I was their age.
The biggest change to my life over the past ten years has been where I have found myself in as far as my career is concerned. My annual salary has more then doubled in that time. Now while I have never been one who has a great love of money or wealth, it goes without saying that being able to live beyond the paycheck-to-paycheck existence that so many people know intimately can be very good for one’s psyche. This has also allowed me to discover a new love for riding long road trips on a Harley Davidson motorcycle. I have seen so much of this country and I count the days until I can get out on the road again.
I have also been able to witness has been the enormous changes in our social fabric, particularly in the arenas of LGBTQIA+ and women’s rights. Seeing those who have been historically shouted down and shunned now being able to stand tall has been inspiring.
By contrast, I watched as the United States, who not long ago elected the first black man to the Presidency, then elect a complete fraud and frightening monster of a human being to the office. I’ve watched as racism and antisemitic sentiments that I (as an admittedly blind white guy) had naively thought were long past return with an astonishing vengeance. The phrase “white privilege” become a concept that people like myself have had to internalize. We suddenly became all too familiar with the word “gaslighting”, which has become the only tool of the Republican Party to explain how they have come to support Russian-influenced propaganda against our national interest, the barbaric separation of thousands of children from their families who are seeking lawful asylum, naked antisemitism and raw, unabashed racism. It was as though in conceding that global climate change was real, the Republicans have instead decided to cling to the horrific mistakes of generations past because admitting they were wrong is somehow, apparently, so much worse for them.
We now have impeached only the third President in our history, yet the country remains on edge as Republicans refuse to accept reality once more. This time going all in on a second-rate con artist wannabe mafia boss.
But, to paraphrase the words of the late Molly Ivins, I remain optimistic to the point of idiocy. I have to believe that the better nature of our national identity will return, and we can put these nightmares away. At least for a long while. And perhaps that’s the true reason that retrospectives like this are so valuable.