With the aroma of blackeyed peas and cabbage wafting throughout the house on this New Year's Day, I sit beside the artificial fireplace gazing at an artificial fire, wondering among other things...so why are my feet still cold? Just a fleeting thought that interrupts my reflection of a year that is now nothing more than history. It was a year of change and accomplishment, and a year of newfound freedom. Exactly one year ago on this New Years Day was my first day of official retirement. Elated, excited, and hopeful, I set out on a new adventure as 2018 made its appearance. And yes, it was indeed, a year of adventure. As a storyteller, I yearn to share so many stories with you, but alas, there are stories I cannot tell.
This day one year ago was much like today, with just myself and Stinky the Boston Terrier, my loyal companion, celebrating a holiday of no substance. I suppose mankind in his feeblest of reasoning, deems the mere survival of 365 days a major accomplishment worthy of celebration. Or perhaps the creation of such holiday was simply to nurse a massive nationwide hangover. And while I personally think New Years Day is a foolish holiday, I will not allow the day to end without consuming black-eyed peas and cabbage. Call me foolish, but I simply cannot take a chance of screwing up an entire year by not partaking in this necessary tradition. Ah, but I stray from the topic.
The highlights of this past year that I can tell you about...well, let's see. I have to be cautious, there are stories I cannot tell. As the new began to wear off of the new year and my retirement plaque hung prominently on the wall of my man cave, I and my faithful, flatulent companion began settling into a comfortable routine, weathering the winter months with me writing frivolous nonsense and Stinky hibernating, both dreaming of spring and warmer weather. When spring finally came, my daughter came with it, home from college. Stinky and I welcomed the refreshing change and happily realigned our mundane existence to accommodate her return to the nest. And with the three of us dreaming of a summer filled with all things that make summer great, came a very unexpected surprise that would send our beautiful world spinning out of control. I believe it was on my birthday...
She appeared at my door...with a large suitcase. She had left back in 2001 in search of bigger and better things and now here she was, seventeen years later, on my doorstep, the mother of my child. Imagine that. You'll have to because most of it is a story I cannot tell.
It was just temporary, she said. She just needed a place to stay for a while, she promised, as she staked her claim within my man cave, tossing everything dear to me into the hallway. "Just a mattress on the floor would be fine," she said, and "Is this all the closet space you have? I have lots more stuff I need to bring over."
Here I sit writing stories I cannot tell and almost scorched the blackeyed peas. I think they'll be okay. I have to eat them anyway. I need some good luck this year. A man from church just left. He stopped by to see why I hadn't been coming to church lately.
"Well," I paused, debating whether I could tell him the story before continuing, "I was involved in a horrible explosion back on July 4th. My ex, the mother of my child, blew me up. In fact, she blew us both up with a really huge firework mishap. I haven't been able to hear since, so really didn't see a reason to go."
Yes, it's true and just an example of stories that I cannot tell. But I hear better now. The doctor said my ears would likely heal over time as he scribbled a prescription for nasal spray. I've been squirting it in my ears for six months and finally, last week thought I'd try squirting it up my nose, and believe it or not, it's working.
As an author, I constantly search for something entertaining or meaningful to write about. In the past, perhaps I've not scrutinized my subject matter as thoroughly as I should have. The eight months that I shared with a woman who I loved deeply at one time and who I still value her friendship tremendously, did indeed offer some fabulous fodder for a storyteller like myself. There were adventures I never dreamed I'd ever experienced, some were good...some not even close. But I'll not jeopardize a valued friendship to give you and those other 160,000 people who stopped by to read my stories in 2018 a chuckle. For I have learned the hard way that words hurt. Sometimes very deeply.
So, the story I tell today is not the story that weighs heavily on my mind, but I cannot tell that story. I told a story once that perhaps shouldn't have been told and well, stories sometimes come back to haunt you. It was a reminder of something that as an author I already knew...there are stories I cannot tell.
Ah, but there are still plenty of stories for me to share with you in 2019. So, cinch that saddle up tight and hang on!
"So, let me get this straight," raising her voice above the country music booming over a speaker, the attractive brunette pointed at the dance floor. "The woman dancing with that fine looking cowboy is your ex?"
"...and she lives with you?"
"Yep," I replied.
"And you're over here putting the moves on me?"