30 Days – Day 9 – Someone Who Drifted

If you’re following this blog, you know I’m participating in the ‘30 Days of Truth‘ project I’ve seen on other blogs.  It’s helping me commit to posting every single day, since I’m also taking part in The Daily Post project.

Day 09 → Someone you didn’t want to let go, but just drifted.

"Drift" by Marni Mutrux

Many people drift in and out of our lives.  As we grow older, we come to accept this as fact, and are better equipped to deal with it as a part of life.  We come to understand that some relationships are transitory, and sometimes a person’s presence serves as a learning experience for us.

“Every moment in life is a learning experience. Or what good is it, right?”
– Paul, ‘Six Degrees of Separation’

His name was Jesse.  He was my best friend in the last couple of years of high school.  We became like brothers after he transferred to my school.  Both only children, we came from different worlds.  His parents were pretty small town and friendly, but they had money.  His mom drove a sports car and his dad bought him a sweet little jet black Nissan pickup with tinted windows and chrome rims with low-profile tires.

Every single time I hear “Pony” by Ginuwine (which isn’t often, but still) I think of that truck, and him, and us riding through town on Friday nights, cruising the main drag just like all the other kids, because there wasn’t shit else to do in that town.

My parents’ old house sat right next to our new house, in total disrepair.  Half the thing was torn open/falling down, literally.  My dad started tearing it down, and well, stopped.  We, being the industrious young men we were, turned the old living room (which was fine but had no heat) into a bachelor pad.  We each had a sofa to sleep on, a TV, and a fridge.  That was the life.

We got measured for prom tuxes together.  I used to buy us 30 packs of Natty Light when I was 17, from a convenience store in town – it always seemed to work – maybe it was my goatee and chops.  He caught me jerking off to a nudie mag once and then casually asked me which pics I was looking at.  lol.  We smoked so much pot I actually hallucinated (pink elephants – wtf was in that weed?) and threw up outside.  We were 16 and 17.  We were brothers.

He was the first person I came out to, a few weeks after I graduated high school.  I was terrified that he’d reject me.  He didn’t.  He thought it was the coolest thing.

It was the summer of 1997.  He and his family had moved to another town about 30-40 minutes away.  I was busy getting into college and getting a job in a town 45 minutes in another direction.  And, as life goes, we drifted apart.  Less and less calls between us, and so forth.  I saw him one other time.  I was back at my parents house for a bit, and he just happened to be in town visiting.  He dropped by for about 45 minutes or an hour or so, and we just visited.  But I’d already changed.  And he had graduated, and was changing himself…off to start his own independent life.

And so it goes.  But once upon a time, we were best friends.  I wonder what ever became of him.  I miss him.

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Exposing Myself to Strangers On the Bus

Sorry for the overtly provocative title – I couldn’t help myself.  😉 It’s honestly the first thing that came to mind earlier this week on the last stretch of my morning commute.

In addition to the briefcase containing my work laptop, etc., I carry an extra canvas tote with a couple of books, magazines and periodicals, etc.  I have a decent-length commute, so I like to have ample reading material on hand.  Well, I just happen to have been carrying a couple of print copies of The Atheist Voice, the newsletter published by the Metroplex Atheists.

Just enough of the newsletter was sticking up in the bag for the title to be clearly visible.  Little did I know, I had a copy wedged into opposite sides of the bag’s interior, so the same was true no matter which way the bag was turned.  I was busy reading a newspaper (disclosure: it was a copy of Freethought Today, published by FFRF).  I happened to notice the exposed newsletter, and while I hadn’t deliberately placed the papers that way, I suspected a couple of held glances at my bag.  I let my eyes skip up from my reading, just to try and catch someone looking, and watch for their reaction, if there was any.

Well, not quite.  I’m not even 100% sure anyone really noticed it, but I had the very distinct feeling a man did, then later a woman (who also works in my office, it turns out) did.  There really was no discernible reaction, but it felt like an odd little rush.  It reminded me of when I used to ride the train or bus and read my copy of ‘The Lucifer Principle‘ by Howard K. Bloom.  It actually has nothing to do with the “Lucifer” of Christian mythology, but I always chuckled a bit on the inside wondering if the other commuters were intrigued, scandalized, or otherwise.  What can I say, I guess I enjoy a wee bit of high dudgeon – given or received – from time to time.

I have no shame in my position or loss of faith.  (Tangent alert!) It doesn’t feel quite right to even say ‘loss of faith’ since I never really had much to begin with.  But, I digress.  I have no shame about what I feel and believe (and thus, don’t believe), but I’m still getting past the stigma the word ‘atheist’ has attached to it  (see my “Coming Out” post).

This oh-so-mild form of exposure to outsiders and strangers felt a tad bit taboo, forbidden, and yet… exhilarating, and right.  It felt good to let go of some societal baggage, and to let others know that we’re out here.  I wondered what the woman who works in my office thought.  I don’t really know her, but we share a walk from the bus into the office each morning in the pre-dawn dark, and we’ve made the usual forced small talk.  I wondered if she might think I’m a nice guy, and what (if anything) this new revelation might do to that impression, if it exists at all.

Since then, I’ve been somewhat shocked and pleasantly surprised to find out several friends and acquaintances are non-believers of some ilk.  My, my, we are indeed out here, aren’t we?

Click to visit ‘The Out Campaign’

Coming Out

I really don’t want this blog to be just an atheism blog.  But, that just seems to be the overall tone of my posts thus far.  So be it…it’s on my mind.  What can I say?

I haven’t really come right out and said I was “agnostic” or “atheist” to anyone, not even my girlfriend/wife (disclaimer: those terms are used very interchangeably between us).  She is well aware I’m “not religious,” but the A words have never really been voiced.  She’s a quasi-devout Catholic.  Is that an oxymoron?  Probably.

I CAN HAZ THE RAPTUREZ NOW?

What I mean is, she is all down with Jeebus and Mary and the awesomely gothicness of Mexican Catholic spirituality, but probably hasn’t set foot in a church in a decade plus. So, she gets that I’m not, much to her usually quiet consternation.  We tease each other lightly about our differing views, but I respect her right to believe in whatever the “hell” 😉 she wants, and I guess she respects mine, at least enough not to damn me to a fiery abyss every chance she gets.

Noms!

Anyway, so I have only really admitted my atheism to myself.  Oh, the shame!  Right?  Whatever.  I just haven’t.  I’m still exploring things, and really feel no need to shout my non-belief from the rooftops, unlike my theist brethren.

But the other day at work, a coworker spotted my copy of “God’s Problem” (see previous post) on my desk.  He is a man I’ve recently become close to, and call a friend.  I have a lot of respect for him as a person, but you know these things can be dicey sometimes.  He’s Christian (I believe Catholic), though not all over the place with it.  Like many young men (young people for that matter – he’s 23), he can curse with the best of them, but mentions God with a capital G here & there, in a non-threatening, personal sort of way.

So, he spots the book, and naturally, inquires.  I told him I was only 5 pages in, so couldn’t give a review of any sort yet, but gave him the rundown.  He wasn’t familiar with the term agnostic, so I gave him the rundown on that too, as well as atheist.  He was “familiar” with that term – I use “” because, upon my questioning him as to his initial thought about the term “atheist,” he gave the standard answer most Christians who have never ventured beyond their religious affiliation would give.  He said something along the lines of, “Well, the first thing that immediately comes to mind is ‘evil.”  I thanked him for his candor, and we kept chatting on the book & subject.  I joked that, “I’m a nice guy, I’m not evil!”  He obviously was having some cognitive dissonance, and realized that his initial reaction was just that, a reaction, as he smiled and indicated that, clearly, he doesn’t consider me evil either.

Regrettably, our conversation was cut short, as he had to leave.  One of the reasons I like this dude so much is that he’s clearly yearning for something – knowledge, experience, exploration of the world around him.  I reminded him we should go out for a beer or three sometime, as we could easily fill the hours with philosophical discussion on a multitude of topics.  And frankly, I’m interested in continuing this conversation.  I was a kind of proud of myself, I have to admit.  I thought, ‘Wow, we’ve only recently become closer friends, and he’s young (I’m only 32, for reference) and religious, and I just dropped the “A-Bomb” on him.

We have come to put the noms on your brain!

…or so some seem to think.  Luckily, he’s not treated me one bit differently since then (though we haven’t spoken of the conversation again yet), which further attests to his intelligence and open-mindedness.

But, it felt refreshing to tell him I’m an Agnostic-Atheist.  Who’s next??? LOL.  But, seriously, it was a turning point.  I really can’t get over how free I feel.  And not in some “Everyone, I’m ATHEIST and it’s the great thing EVAR!!!1!  You should be too!” kind of way.  At all.  I just feel less stressed, in general.

Much like the passing from December 31st into January 1st doesn’t magically change anything, regardless of what we’d like to think, formally denouncing any shred of faith I once held hasn’t made life easier.  It hasn’t put more money into my pocket, taken any inches off the waistline, and so on.  But what it has done is open me up to an existence of increased clarity.

Happy New Year, indeed.