I have so many feelings. And writing is cathartic for me. So I'm going to start using this as a place to barf my ideas by putting pen to page. They might be about food. They might be about my friend's cancer struggle. I might write a fictional story. This might be a book someday. Like the Pearl Jam song says: "This is not for you..." It's for me. I don't care if anyone reads them. I don't care if you can relate. This is 100% for me and me alone.
I like the Ghost Blog format. And part of that format is the header image. If you don't add one it just looks stupid. And I have a lot of images that could work for this one, but I chose the little boy as the header because at my core I feel like an imposter. Sometimes I feel like I'm a little boy sitting on another little boy's shoulders wearing a trenchcoat, pretending to be an adult. (I do love the idea of that trope. It's so absurd and it makes me giggle. Google "Two Kids in a Trenchcoat" or click here and you can find several video examples. My favorite being "Vincent Adultman" from Bo-Jack Horseman. If you haven't watched that Netflix series, you should.)
My Instagram bio describes me as "WI boy, AZ man." I wrote it that way because I always felt that was a clear demarcation point for me. When I landed in Arizona, I felt free of so many things from my childhood. I certainly didn't have it all figured out, but I felt like I was out from under something. It just felt different. I felt like I was on my own for the first time. I (we) moved to AZ to start over. I needed to not necessarily "get away" from my family but to create a little distance. Call it hubris, pride, or any other label you want to put on me, but "I didn't need them..." I had a chip on my shoulder for some reason, but I didn't let it show.
One day I heard the term "Arrested Development". I'd heard of the hip-hop group from the 90s, and the hit television show of the same name, but it never really hit home to me as to what they were referring to. Then one day it just clicked as to what it meant. And I could quasi-relate. I feel like it took longer for me to figure things out than maybe some of my peers or whatever, but I feel like I grew and moved through the stages of life. It might have taken me longer, but I got there. I made it to the next level. Granted these are all made up and mostly bullshit, but it's the only way to measure that progress. At the end of the day, I do feel like an "Arizona Man".
The other image that's been popping in my head, is the meme of the Dog sitting in the room that's engulfed in flames declaring "This is Fine." I think a lot of people can relate to this one...
Then that makes me think of the Tracy Bonham song where she screams "EVERYTHING'S FINE!" I've always related to this song... Even though it's from the daughter's/female perspective I've always felt like I could have written it... It's not my life verbatim, but some of the sentiment is there...
I have a complicated relationship with my Mom (probably because we're pretty much the same person) and I probably need to lie down on someone's couch and talk about it. And someday I probably will.
I wasn't supposed to be born. My Mother wasn't supposed to have any more kids (medically) and my Father wasn't even living with her when I was conceived. So surprise motherfucker! Heeeeeeerrrrrrrreeeeee's Zachy! I literally wasn't wanted. Not in like an omg let's get an abortion kind of way. (She might have considered it, I don't know. I've never asked her. But she's catholic so it probably wasn't ever in the cards. Especially because she wasn't supposed to have another kid.) I guess what I'm trying to say is that my parents weren't expecting to have another kid after they were separated and divorcing at the end of 1975. If anything I was probably some kind of weapon that they used against each other.
I never really felt that way growing up (they either insulated us from that shit or I was too stupid to figure it out.) But as a baby or when I was in utero who the fuck knows... My mom thinks that I'm super sensitive today because she cried a lot during her pregnancy with me. That's all I know about the gestation period. That and my due date was June something, and I finally came out in mid-August. I was something like 8 or 10 weeks late. No joke. They let that shit happen back then. And my mom knows the conception date because they weren't "together" when I was conceived. So she could trace back the conception date with the doctor. Nowadays they would have cut me out of there and given her a c-section scar. I was normal size, just extra late. And I seem to recall something about long finger and toe nails.
All I knew as a kid was that my Mom and Dad lived an hour away from each other. It's all I ever knew. And unless I'm blocking it out because it was so traumatic to me, they never bad-mouthed each other. I knew there were some child support court fights, but I never really felt them. And my mom didn't talk shit about my dad in front of me. So I thank her for that. I know there was some squabbling, but neither made us feel like we were in the middle of them. I had what I would call a "happy" childhood. Two Christmas's was pretty cool. Again, it's all I ever knew.
Mom got remarried when I was like 9-10 years old. My Stepdad was cool. He never really tried to "parent" me too much. It's like I wasn't his problem. And as such, he wasn't affectionate towards us. So I never felt super close to him. He had three kids of his own and they were certainly like family, but more like friends. They lived with their mom and visited on the weekends. Sometimes it was just us. And sometimes it would be all of us. Then sometimes it would be just them because we were at our dad's house. So you never really knew until that day just what it would be like. My Stepdad was pretty quiet. He shopped in bulk before it was a thing. He took us on amazing camping trips when we were kids that I still think about to this day. He helped me build and win the pinewood derby in cub scouts. That's right, I'm a pinew0od derby champion.
My elementary years were interesting. My mom went to school and worked. So she wasn't really around. My grandma lived with us so there was always an adult in the house. She didn't drive so she just sat in her room in her recliner watching TV all day. So we were pretty much on our own. So if you needed me in 1986, I was in one of three places: riding my Huffy bicycle around Kenosha, Wisconsin, in front of my Nintendo playing Mario, or at Matt Johnson's house down the street playing Mario. Actually, I was at Matt's house a lot. Like I don't know how his mom could stand me being there all the time. Like seriously all the time. I'd sleep over there on weekends that I wasn't at my Dad's house. We were inseparable. We'd go fishing in the harbor across the street. Jump our bikes on the dirt hill. Play football in the empty lot. I ate their food. And I know she was a struggling single mom who didn't have the means to be feeding another kid. I know it was a different time but it didn't really feel like my mom really cared about where I was and what I was up to. I didn't get in trouble and I didn't really rock the boat. So it was an arrangement that we both seemed to be ok with at the time. (Matt and I went to different high schools and didn't really see or talk to each other past 8th grade.)
Then in Junior High, we moved out of that house and into a different neighborhood. By that time I started playing guitar and started a band with the neighbor kid, Brian. (Sadly, he died of a heroin overdose several years ago. Don't do drugs.) I also started getting interested in girls. And I played sports too. Basketball, football, and my favorite soccer. So I was busy with those things. I still rode my bike all over gods creation. Mostly for a girl or seven. I was older now and was pretty self-sufficient.
Then in high school, I still played sports. Still played in bands. But I also figured out that I loved singing in choir and musical theatre. (Because that's where the girls were that I liked. Do you sense a pattern yet?) (And there was some other bullshit that went on that I will gloss over because it's too much for this conversation. Just know that this is a high-level overview of my life and many details are missing. It's not that I'm ashamed or anything, just that it'd be too much.) Anyway, TLDR I moved in with my dad for a time and then went back with my mom because I hated school at my dad's. (Turns out I was really bored because they weren't challenging me in school.) And then I graduated high school and started working.
I didn't go to college right away because nobody really told me to. I regret not having a real college experience of living in a dorm and living on my own right out of high school. Visiting my friends at Northwestern or UW-Madison made me feel like I should have taken that track. And I even came close to attending a prestigious theatre tech program (I was accepted) but I couldn't really afford it and I didn't understand the process of getting into the regular college program in order to make it work. (I also never took the ACTs or SATs.) My life would be totally different if I had gone through that program. Again, regret.
I have a lot of resentment toward how I was treated by my mom growing up. But after I had graduated high school and was floundering around a bit, she delivered the news to me that still makes me feel all the feels. And at the surface it's nothing, she was divorcing my stepdad, selling the house, and moving to an apartment in another city by herself. She basically said smell-ya-later to the entire family and I thought it was so fucking selfish. I needed guidance and support and I didn't get it from my family. I was pretty much on my own. (I wasn't in reality, but to an 18-year-old kid who's trying to figure life out, I felt really fucking alone. I had a whole team of people who helped me and I turned out just fine. So please don't feel bad for me.) I didn't understand it at the time. But I understand it better as a 46-year-old man. I have kids of my own and I fucking get it... It does still sting a little bit. Time heals all wounds, I guess.
She moved to AZ two years ago to live with my sister. So I see her now more than I have since I was a kid. As I said, we have a complicated relationship. It's getting better. I know she and I have limited time left with each other. I'm learning to let go and brush things off when she bugs me about something or says something to me inappropriate. So our realtionship is definitley changing. I don't have a clever way to end this story, because it's still being written, but I hope it helps you understand who I am and where I came from. WI boy, AZ man.