On Loss

Wednesday, November 19, 2014 | 0 Comment(s)

I lose so many things. 

Two years ago I found the perfect winter jacket.  It was quilted without being bulky and incredibly well insulated.  I wore that coat both as my "get around town" everyday jacket, as well as my waterproof option for snow frolicking.  Best coat I'd had since high school. 

The following winter, as my wife and I searched through the gigantic Tupperware bins that hold our winter clothes, the coat was nowhere to be found.  We figured it must be somewhere around the house, in the attic or basement most likely.   But with our recent move it became official, the blue winter jacket that, for a brief period fulfilled my every core-warming desire, was gone.

My first nose wasn't as bulbous as the current version, granted this one is Version 4.0.  I lost my first nose at 7 years old when a teammate threw his baseball bat after swatting a grown ball off a coach's underhanded pitch.  The more solid contact came after the batter released his aluminum club, and it came frisbeeing toward me before being stopped by the bridge of my nose. 
There was an unholy amount of blood.  My eyes purpled before my father showed up to the camp to pick me up and take me to the hospital.  With my nose reset, and my stuffed teddy-bear getting fitted with a matching nose-splint to make my raccoon face seem less traumatizing, I wanted out of that hospital.  Pronto!  Sure I was only wearing my tighty whities and still 32% flying on children's anesthesia, but I wanted out of that hospital as soon as possible.  Even at seven I knew I'd lost something inside those walls, and sticking around longer wasn't going to help me recover what was lost. 

Those doctors took my sense of invulnerability, a force so powerful inside me it hadn't even been momentarily stunted by high fevers and a dastardly case of the chicken pox.  I was fleeing my body's rejection of being "put under"-- of being made lifeless so early in my lifetime that I didn't even grasp the marrow they were already stitching back together.  You can still feel the ridge in my nose where the original bone was fractured, none of the new fragments quite lining up flush with the original.

I lost my virginity in a flurry of confusion, hormones, nervousness, and latex.  Soon followed by fear.  Did the condom break?  Was that really an Ani Difranco song playing?  Was I supposed to feel accomplished now? Different?  The only thing shattered by those three minutes on a queen mattress resting atop two twin mattresses was my childhood idea of losing my virginity to someone I was dating and in love with; A criteria that had up until that point lasted 20 years unmolested.  Admittedly, independent of the physical experience, I was glad to let the air out of the magic virginity balloon before it exploded in my face – I have no doubt it would have been spectacular upon detonation.

On an otherwise unspectacular day in early February of my sophomore year in college, my friends and I decided that our lives would collectively end if we didn't get to watch Varsity Blues, in the theater, that night.  Of course, save for our happily sober designated driver, the rest of us would do our level best to blur any memories of the upcoming adventure from forming.  There was beer and pot and then more beer before piling the six of us inside an early 90's Subaru Outback.  Despite our bursting bladders that car was powered by our giggles as we bumped along the highway for twenty minutes until we reached the theater parking lot.  

The soft focus is because they're all so dreamy
If you've seen Varsity Blues, you know we didn't leave disappointed.  Between the whipped cream bikini and the powerful rendition of, "I. don't want. you're life," even the malt liquor couldn't sully the perfect viewing of a seriously bad movie on the big screen.  I even remember the bathroom run my friend Andrew and I made out of desperation.  We didn't want to miss even one tiny morsel of this movie, but we also didn't want to watch the remainder of the flick from a urine-soaked seat.   We sprinted both to and from the men's room, missing about 54 seconds of actual run time – 46 of those seconds were spent relieving ourselves, with 8 seconds left for transitions.

The memory of that night is tucked inside the folds of my brain where I store my favorite moments of all time.  There is some permanence where it fits inside my personal history.  But those days are oh so lost.  Lost in a way that leaves me recontemplating what answers that song talks about that keep blowing in the wind.  Lost because to still have them requires a mixture of youth and college priorities and more than a little willful ignorance; All three of those requirements being conversation starters more than lifestyle choices for the person I am today. 

Those days are the carnival in my rearview mirror on an ever-increasingly cloudy day.  The best of times leaving a the-best-of-time's sized impact on my life. An enormous wave of empty space reverberating a hollow imprint through time, the void seeking to be filled in a manner equal to the satisfaction of maximizing one's youth.  A youth that, at the moment, I can't help but notice I seem to also have misplaced.

The hardest losses continue to be the one's I don't see coming.  I expect my sunglasses to go missing two weeks post-purchase, and I don't think I'll ever own a lighter until it runs out of butane.  But I never thought the loss of my last remaining grandparent would come as such a blow. The promotion to the adult-table completely knocking the wind out of me.  I'm still too scared to think too deeply about how my peers are losing parents.  An unfathomable loss.

As someone who loses things as often as I do, it's imperative I remember the gains; To focus on the perfection in the near perfect moments. Even though our appreciation of the now brings the falling leaves of autumn, with its acorn memories scattered across the hardening soil, it is still worth trust falling in the present – leaves or no leaves.  Otherwise, you'll have nothing to lose in the first place. 

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