It is 5:55 AM. I woke up around 4:30, drank a shot of wheatgrass, put away dry dishes and washed the dirty ones, made coffee, meditated, added to a post about my Grandpa and wished my childhood friend Ryan a happy 40th birthday. Still left to do are: write this post, study Japanese, put Sega and Nintendo emulators and roms on USB for another parent at school, take son to school, run reports, contact some corporate customers, clean the fishtanks and most likely go to the post office to mail a bunch of stuff the wife wants me to mail.
But first things first which is this post and I have approximately twenty minutes to write it before the household wakes up.
This year we finally got around to putting up Christmas lights outside. The reason we haven’t done it in the past is that the top of the house is very high up and falling off a ladder would equal instant death. I had it in my head that Christmas lights must go on top of the house and since I don’t want to die just never did it instead settling for candles in the window. But this year however my son asked why we didn’t put lights up outside so it had to be done.
Instead of putting lights up on the top of the house we put red ones around the two pillars at the front door as well as a string over the garage doors. It looks pretty good and I’m glad we did it. I also attached clear hooks to the house that can stay there and hold the lights year after year.
As with most holidays I remember my childhood neighborhood Golfview Woods as being a place where the majority of people decorated their homes for the holidays. Here in Pacifica, some do a very good job at decorating but most do not.
In addition to the outside lights we’ve also got a few strings up inside as well which do a good job of adding to the holiday ambiance. We just leave them on all night and it is nice to walk into a festively lit room so early in the morning when everything else is dark and there isn’t a sound to be heard.
As I appreciated the lights this morning I was reminded about another set of Christmas lights that were special to me. When I was in high school I used to lay in my bed which was high up as it was the top portion of a bunk bed with no lower bed but instead my “Sega cove.” So I had a good view of the outside, my neighbors yards and even the houses across the street. One house -2170 Bigby Hollow St.- used to always put up one string of lights across the roof over the garage. I used to stare at those lights and just think until I fell asleep. The house belonged to my acquaintance Jason Hanna who I hung around with from 8th grade to about freshman year after which his family moved away in 1993.
The two things I remember the most about Jason was that he didn’t hold up his end of the very heavy sewer grate we had lifted in order to retrieve something which had fallen in. I ended up smashing two fingers one of which opened up and ‘finger fat?’ actually came out a little. I had to push it back in, run home, rinse, and bandage it myself. Good thing I did or the end of my left middle finger would just be skin and bone with no cushion. My left middle finger had a huge blood blister and scars on both of these fingers remain to this day. The second memory is that my Swiss Army knife suddenly disappeared after one of his visits.
During high school there is a lot going on and thus a lot to think about: intense feelings, puberty, sports, academic anxiety, social aspects, girlfriends (or lack of) and so on. The winter is also an intense time as the weather is very cold, there is sometimes snow, it gets dark very early and can be very depressing.
The major factor however was sports; I was on the wresting team and wresting practice day in and day out really beats you up. I would come home and literally have to crawl up the stairs since I was extremely sore and completely exhausted. Lying there in my bed, in the dark when all is quiet and it is frigid outside I would stare at those Christmas lights and wish I could just stay like that forever. I wish I wouldn’t have to repeat the day of school and sports I had just had four more times that week, then have an all day wrestling meet on Saturday and then continue this routine for the next three months.
But my alarm would go off, I get dressed in the same uniform, have a very quick breakfast, and go out into the frigid cold. I’d arrive at school and it would still be dark, walk into doorway and smell that distinct “school smell” which would change depending on where you were in the building. Near the basketball court it smelled like basketball court polish, wax or whatever they put on that floor to make it shiny. Next to that was the guys locker room which smelled all sorts of nasty as high school guys stink and often do not wash their sports clothing and gear. It smelled like the worst body odor you can imagine. The weight room smelled like what I had thought was wintergreen Kodiak tobacco but learned it was Bengay cream. I never learned exactly why those other guys decided they needed to slather themselves with Bengay everytime they went to workout. I worked out, was beaten up from wresting but didn’t slather myself with that stuff.
Anyway, I’d put my stuff away in my locker, go to first ‘mod,” and I still don’t know what that stands for – module? Then seven ‘mods’ later at 3:00 PM It would be time for wresting. I’d envy all the other kids who were laughing and joking outside, getting in their cars to either go home or go have some fun somewhere when I’d be stuck for the next three hours going through a very hard and exhausting wrestling practice. As 6:00 PM arrived I’d peer through the windows fogged up with sweat on one side and extreme cold on the other. There might be snow or freezing rain or no precipitation at all but it would always be cold and very dark.
I’d get home around 6:30 or so and after dinner, a shower and an attempt at homework it would finally be time for bed. So I’d lay there for a few minutes, enjoying the only free time of the day and stare at those Christmas lights and wish I could just lay there in my warm bed forever. I’d think about girls, school, friendships, enemies, life, the past, the future, Christmas break and how many more days I’d have to go through this routine. Being as exhausted I was I’d quickly be asleep, the alarm would go off and the punishing routine would repeat once again.
I’ve always appreciated those Christmas lights that I could see from my top bunk back in 1994, 1995.