Looking back and looking forward

“I wished on the seven sisters,
Bring to me wisdom of age,
All that’s locked within the book of secrets,
I longed for the knowledge of the sage…”

It is now 10:04 P.M., and it is time to blog. Where to begin? Where to begin, indeed. I think I’ll skip the recap of the last three days of the last work week, for the time at work was just that: time at work. Not much to write about, not much to remember. The weekend, however was a quite different story.
My family was in Memphis this weekend, both to celebrate my birthday (which will actually technically occur in about another 1 hour and 55 minutes, and to do our Christmas Celebration. For many reasons, none of which are actually bad, our Christmas is going to be different this year. For the first time in my life I’ll not be at my parent’s house on Christmas Morning. For me, it’s because of an insane work Schedule. My Sister won’t be there because she will be with her Husband on Christmas morning (as she should be). Oh, and Mom won’t be there because she will be in Los Vegas spending Christmas with her sister. The fact is that the Fletcher family had a run of 40 years spending christmas at home, not many families can say that. I do not really mind the situation changing, well, not for the reasons it is changing. The tradition is changing because the family has changed in good ways. Not because we are angry at each other, not because of any drama or soap operas. It’s a good change. And, we still got to spend time together this weekend, and that is the truly important part. Having the “Christmas Celebration” on the actual date of Christmas is not really necessary.
So, Friday I had to work until 8:00 PM, which caused me to miss going to Mo’s graduation, and I hated that. I had to work Saturday morning until 11:00 Am. Mom, Kris, and Steve (my brother in law) arrived at their hotel in Millington about 2:00 . We hung out  for a couple of hours just catching up with each other. I’d not seen any of them since Kris’s wedding in September. It was truly good to receive them. Kris and Steve gave me a very nice wallet/money clip which had my name engraved on it. Mom’s gift was an item I’m going to get a great deal of use from; a very nice day planner. Over the course of the years I’ve used probably hundreds of day planners, and so far I have to say I like this one’s layout better than any I’ve seen before.
About 4:30 several members of the rest of my family showed up. This would be members of the House of Three Dragons. This is my, well, local family. They are not my blood relations, but that doesn’t make them any less my family. We all loaded up and headed to the Grand Casino for dinner and fun. The meal was good, the conversation during the meal, was even better. After dinner Steve and Gresch disappeared into the poker room for several hours. The rest of us headed to the slots and table games. By the time we left at 10:30 I think the only people that were not at least even were myself and Turlaugh. I know my sister won about 200 playing electronic poker. Mom won about 150.00 , and on his last spin on the roulette wheel Jim won over 700.00. It was a great evening.
There were twelve of us that had journeyed south to Tunica. Let me rephrase that; I was joined by 11 members of my family. I was joined by 11 people I truly care about and enjoy spending time with. These 11 people had come to help me celebrate my birthday. That really struck me, for it really helped me see how much my life had changed in the last ten years.
You see, ten years ago I was living in Decatur Alabama. My Mom was in Birmingham, and Kris was in Macon Georgia. So, the three of us could have, possibly, gotten together for the weekend, but it would have been damn hard. At the time I had three close friends I cared about: One was living in Decatur, one was (and still is) living in Japan, and one was in living in Little Rock Arkansas. That was it. If I’d put out a call to join me for dinner, or whatever, to help celebrate my birthday, only the one friend in Decatur could have responded. In fact, if I remember right, he did respond, I think we ate at a pizza place. There just weren’t any other people I counted as friends, or family at the time. What I find truly strange, thinking about it now, was how normal that seemed. I won’t claim I was really happy, but I was…..content. So what if my family was hours away? So what if there were only three people I truly called friends? Hell, at the time I thought I had more true friends than most people. True, the fact that two of them were also a great distance away from me was kind of a bummer, but  I kept in touch with them by phone once or twice a month or so. I’d see the Jon, the one living in Japan once a year when he came home to the states. Every six months or so I’d make a road trip to Little Rock for the weekend. Other than that, I went to work, and when I wasn’t at work, I read, or engaged in my hobby of building models . Like I said, I wasn’t really unhappy, but I realize now, I wsn’t really happy either. That’s just the way life was.
What a difference a decade makes. In many ways I am not where I expected to be when I turned 40, but I can honestly say I’m happy. I have a family I truly love. I have more friends than I can count, both here in the same city I live in, and literally all across the South East. Now, true, some of those more distant friends I don’t see except at Events, but when I do see them our conversations start up right where they ended the last time we saw each other. Perhaps more importantly, I have close friends (so close I consider them family) right here in town, and I know that on any given week I’ll be spending time face to face with those friends a minimum of two or three times a week. I literally can’t tell you what an amazing difference that has made in my life.
Sure, sometimes money gets tight. Sure, sometimes I wish I had a different job, or a nicer vehicle, or something I don’t have and can’t afford right now. Sure,  sometimes I wish life was different. But then I stop, and I make myself remember how different my life is now compared to what it was in the past, and I say a silent thank you to whatever Divine Force watches over me for those changes. At such times I also remind myself that in the end the only form of weath that is worth a damn, the only form of wealth that you can take with you when you move on to the next life is the love of family and friends, and by that measure I am a truly wealthy man.
I  do not claim to know what changes the next ten years will hold, but I am looking forward to finding out. Whatever happens, it’s going to be a fun ride.

Cormac

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