Thinking of Tucson

Years ago, when we were young and the world was still full of wonder and lessons, we were ignorant, blissful, and for lack of a better word- alive. I don’t believe that our innocence was known to us then, thinking as we did that we had done our fair share of looking life in the teeth; never realizing that the teeth we faced with nescience and drunken bravado were but babies, and were not fleeing from our steady gaze, but rather stepping aside for the real teeth to grow in, the tests and obstacles that lie ahead. We were smiling at kittens thinking they were lions. Now we know better, and next year we’ll know more still.

And while sticking our collective necks in our individual lions we have grown, both up and apart, for better and worse (but mostly for the better), and we have shed our baby fat layer of wonder and innocence. I no longer wonder what this life may bring me, but what it will bring us, my son, my soon to arrive child, my wife, my family, my friends, my country, my world. I no longer wonder about what will be given me, but what I can give to make it all better for those I love.

We had a tradition then, while drinking heavily and loving lightly, of an annual Christmas party, where all were welcome and the feeling of kinship and seasonal joy filled the air. It started with a bang, sheer merriment sans consequence. Slowly, it became something else, it became deeper and more relaxed. We started facing our realities and our demons, and the annual Christmas party became a time to connect to what kept us grounded and remind us of why we fight the fights that we do. We started to see what we had for what it was, and the value was not lost on us. It was a time to appreciate everything we had fallen into and everything we had fought to keep.

Yet, we fought in futility, for we began to drift and our own lives consumed us, and the annual Christmas party fell to a quietus. Whatever glue that had held us together could not stretch the miles that kept us apart.

It is Christmas time again, and I will hear from few of my old friends, see fewer still. That does not mean that they have been regulated to roles of ghosts and Christmas past. It only means that I miss them and what it was that we shared together.

I face lions now and I know things that alluded me then, like fear and worry and other burdens of responsibility. It only causes me to value kittens more.

This Christmas I will not fall to debauchery, at least not to the depths I once did, but I will embrace those around me and share new moments with them. I will hug them and wish them holiday cheer. I will mean it more than they know and I will cherish it more than they realize, and over beers and dreams about kittens I will tell them stories about the greatest annual Christmas party ever.

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