Coeur d’Alene

The Lie of Nostalgia, The Truth of Home

We’ve been traveling a lot lately—following the West Coast heat wave it would seem.  We left San Luis Obispo, California for Coeur d’Alene, Idaho on June 30th. On the way from SLO, CA, we stopped in Reno to see my mom and then in Boise to see my sister and her kids. We made it back to Coeur d’Alene just in time to jump in the lake on the fourth of July. Long trip.

We’re here for the month. Soon we’ll be making the Great Drive to Rochester, New York where I’m certain our car will explode in protest.

I apologize for the lack of posts, but you know how travel goes. Moving. Yawning. Sunflower seeds. Gum on the seat. Wishing you were home—wherever and whatever home is.

It’s an interesting subject, home; I’ve been thinking a lot about it.

For a long time I confused nostalgia with home. I assumed they were one in the same. I know now they’re not. And while it’s true that one springs from the other—like a seed from a tree or a son from a father—I’ve found that the two are quite separate, quite different.

Nostalgia is a dream. It’s a desire, sometimes sweet but usually bitter. A little nostalgia can go a long way and I believe it’s healthy in this dosage. Quickly though, nostalgia can consume and take root. It’s good to know the difference.

These last six months in California have shown me the difference between nostalgia and home. I always assumed California was my home—the city I grew up in, the town where every street, side-street, and park had a memory—but that wasn’t the case. California is not my home. It’s just a place, a place I once lived. And just like her burritos, California bursts at the seem, overfilled with people I love and places I’d be happy to die in.

But this is not home. It’s just a place.

The few years of marriage have taught me the truth of what home is. My wife is my home. Not any one place in particular, just her. I think home can be a place for some people, but not me. When I’m away from her I’m not myself, nor am I home. It’s just the way it is. Home is her.

Wherever we go we’ll be home—even in Rochester, even without furniture—and I’m excited about that.

Epilogue

I’m working on a blog post for next week and I’m really excited about it. It’s more in the vein of what I usually write. Before I jump back in to the blogosphere, though, it seemed wise to explain my absence and also reflect on what the last couple weeks have taught me.

Thanks for being patient. Stay tuned.

PS: I have a new page on my website. It’s called Top 5 Music, Movies, and Books. Give it a gander and let me know what you think.

The Intern Whoop: Taking a Local Day Pt. 2

Last year, I discovered newness inside my town and wrote a blog detailing this adventure: Local businesses and new people; I got outside—it was great. Check out, “Taking a Local Day” HERE.

Part Duex

On the first of the year, my wife and I moved from snowy Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho to sunny San Luis Obispo, California. I grew up here in SLO county, well south county, I guess.

Despite my history here, everything seemed new; the mountains had never looked greener and skies had never been bluer. The local troves held new names and faces, while their sidewalks ferried fresh bodies to and fro.

We were in a land of newness and I was bound to explore it.

Then we got jobs. Well, I got an internship and she got a job.

Makin’ Copies

My internship so far has been ideal. There isn’t much grunt work, and I’m treated as an employee with as much to say as anyone else. Though yesterday, I made copies for five hours.

Five hours. I can still smell it. The copies.

In the middle of my copying madness, I was given a quick job to distribute a notice to all the local businesses in our strip regarding a meeting of some sort.

I welcomed the break.

Makin’ Discoveries

strip mall

outside

There were twelve of these notices to hand out. I peeked outside, “there’s twelve shops here?”

For over two months I’ve worked here. Besides the coffee shop, I had no idea who my neighbors were.

“There’s twelve shops?” I repeated.

So once again, I ventured out; I took a local day. Shaking hands, I discovered business owners, employees and their products.

One shop offered full car-audio installation, with a contract for city police vehicles (two were inside). Another shop sold used baby clothes, and right next to it, golf gear. Further down, I met some kids working in a skateboarding warehouse who specialized in online sales; further down, there was a Muay Thai kick boxing ring.

Like us, they were all just trying to make their mark and tell their story. Before yesterday, they didn’t exist. At least not to me.

Reminded

It’s terrible, our bubbles. We hide inside and shut out the world—sometimes on purpose, most times unknowingly. Like a horse race, we focus on the goal and miss the uniqueness that surrounds it, even if the goal is just a parking spot.

Culture is a beautiful thing. Sometimes, embracing it is as simple as walking outside.

Any good stories of meeting your neighbors? What else can we do to break our daily routines? Are all routines bad? I’d love some feedback.

Last Day of Work: Unemployment Eve

photoIt’s scary to leave a job. Even if you hate the job, it’s still scary. There’s the one or two days of “freedom.” You call your friends, maybe text, “hey, I’m free!” Then, after the smug clears, you realize there is no source of income. And all those people you complained about everyday, well you miss them.

I didn’t hate my job. I actually quite liked it. There were times where I did hate it, but that’s inevitable. Every job has its ups and downs; the real trick is to be able to see them through and laugh with your boss the next day.

Today is my last shift of a three year stint at Pilgrim’s Market in Coeur d’Alene, ID. My wife and I are moving to San Luis Obispo, CA on the first of the year for an internship.

Pilgrims is an entry level job. The second I announced my leaving, plans were made to replace me, and like that, I was replaced. Life goes on. Sometimes we like to pretend that our legacy is bigger than that. I don’t know. It’s a produce job.

I’d like to pretend I’m leaving behind some sort of void. I guess I’m narcissistic that way.

The other day, I overheard a new hire and the manager talking about what shifts she would take. “Well, after Kevin’s gone, Wednesday and Thursday will open”…

This must be how grandparents feel on their deathbed: lousy relatives rummaging through their things, claiming knick knacks before they’ve even seen the light.

“I can still hear you” I yelled.

It’s good to quit a job every now and then. It’ll test you, force you to do bigger and better things. We’ve done everything right: planned it, saved money, lined up future jobs, graduated schools…

It still seems shaky at best. It may just be that after all these years of entry level jobs, I’ve convinced myself that it’s where I belong. That maybe, I can’t do much better. I remember having the same nervousness the day I graduated high school. I forgot my sunscreen that day.

Here’s to three happy years at Pilgrim’s Market. A great job with incredible people. A place where I learned patience, kindness, and the difference between a turnip and a rutabaga. I will truly miss it.

Kevin Claude Van Damnit!: The Perils of Landscaping

You know that awesome, cliché action-movie sequence where the hero jumps out of a car right before it shoots off a cliff? I’m sure you know what I mean.

I’ve always wanted to do that!

Today was going to be an easy day. You know… day off from my main job at the market, do a little side-job yard work, get a little sunshine. I didn’t realize I’d be jumping off a riding lawnmower as it plunged downhill.

I should explain.

On Wednesdays, I landscape for a really nice lady named Lois. She lives outside of Coeur d’Alene in the “fancy home overlooking the lake on a hill” district. Every summer she rents her house (or yard I should say) for weddings.

She has a nice riding mow, and I genuinely love the job. It’s outside and beautiful and even fun. That said, every landscaper who works a riding mow will mention a turn that makes their teeth grind. My “turn,” happens to have a hill next to it that dramatically declines into wilderness. No problem.

Today, the grass was wet.

Moments

It’s funny how time seems to slow down in radical moments. Looking back, I felt like I could’ve prepped a tuna salad sandwich with the time I had before the fall, which was really only two or three seconds.

I better Titanic off of this thing!

I jumped and hit the ground, soon hearing the mower make a ‘crunch’ sound. I stood up, as slowly as I could muster, and turned my head towards the direction of the renegade-riding mower. God, I didn’t want to look.

“Oh my goodness,” I said. “It’s fine!”

There, downhill, the mower rested in a safe net of bushes. In fact, it couldn’t have had a softer landing. Laughing, I ran down the hill and jumped on the dusty mower and started the engine. I threw the gear in reverse but it wouldn’t go. It tried, I tried, the wheels turned and all, but it wouldn’t go. After a good ten minutes of this back and forth gear shifting, manually lifting the mower, and pushing and pulling in ridiculous helplessness, I rested.

Prayer

I thought about calling some friends, but everyone I knew lived roughly twenty-hours away in California. Lois was gone for a few hours, the only good thing.

“Lord,” I pleaded, “You gotta get me out of this, you gotta send me somebody!”

The hill looks bigger in person okay?

During the summer, Lois turns her guest room into a bed and breakfast. I thought the house was empty, but I forgot about the B&B guests! Suddenly, I heard a door open.

“Hey! Hey!” I rushed up the hill to the guest’s door with my arms waving. Flustered and bewildered, the man stepped back and threw his fists into a fighting stance (protecting his wife).

“Do you… I… well…” I was out of breathe and apparently lost my vocabulary on the fall. It wasn’t helping my case that the stranger thought me a lunatic. Thankfully, his eyes looked down and saw the green on my clothes and (eventually) the mower in the bushes.

“Did you ride that down the hill?” He asked.

“No… It rolled down by itself.”

His eyes widened and he made the hand gesture of a rolling car. “It rolled?”

“Well no, it roooollllled.” I made the gesture of a smooth downward drift with my hand. I must’ve looked insane. Crazy or not, this answered prayer of a man helped me pull, push, and lift the mower out of the bushes.

It turned out this guy was a saint.

Fin.

Getting out of the bushes was only half the battle, but I will spare you the rest of that crazy story (it included ‘off roading’ further down). All in all, the mower was fine. I even got it back in the yard and finished mowing before Lois came home. I wasn’t sure how to bring it up. “Hey, I took your expensive (brand new) riding mow on a joy ride to the lake.”

I didn’t say that.

My conscious got the best of me, and I did tell her. She took it great and actually laughed when I gave her the story. She felt bad for me, could you believe that?

Epilogue

What’s the moral to this tale? Hmmmmm…

Watch out for wet grass?

Don’t cut too close to the edge?

God answers prayer?

Before I left, I took one more glance at the spot where it all went down. The soft breeze was blowing and the sun was finally shining. Down the hill, the bushes were tromped and a freshly made ‘mower size’ trail existed, showing my fateful path. I stood and looked, both triumphant and stupid, gazing with astonishment, and thinking only “Man, that was bad ass.”

Lake Psychology and Death Cab

Today I bought the new Death Cab album, and it got me thinking. Why? Why do I buy music? It’s ridiculous if you think about it.

Not in the “you can steal it for free sense,” I believe that is wrong.

But more so the, “I want to own this because I feel like I should.”

There’s this lake-front house that I like to look at when my wife and I take scooter rides–close to when the sun sets. It’s the most incredible home I’ve ever seen. It has this European-cottage/cabin/castle look to it; big but not enormous.   (more…)

State of the Union: Turning 24

Turning 24. Nothing groundbreaking here.

For the sake of cliché, I’m listening to Switchfoot’s 24.

It’s 6:37am and I’m in my living room in Coeur d’Alene, ID. We are afraid to turn on the heat because of the electricity bill so I’m cold. Megan got up to go babysit some kids this morning, but she’ll be back soon. Hopefully with cup cakes. (more…)