Tonight I’m Nineteen Again

A couple nights ago, I sat down for dinner, and began to feel nauseous. I couldn’t eat my food. My family was looking at me with their normal concern. I excused myself from the table, took some nausea medicine, and decided to lie down for thirty minutes so the medicine could kick in.

As I lay down, I started to feel sorry for myself, but quickly decided that was a waste of time. I put on Pandora instead, and played the Greg Laswell station. As the songs played, I went down memory lane. Chapters started again opening up in my head that had been closed for so long.

I started thinking about how different life was for me at nineteen. I was amazed at all the details that rushed back into my brain. I suddenly remembered who I was at that time, and how I felt and thought. I missed that guy a bit.

Nineteen was a time before having a kid, experiencing love, having a “real job,” becoming an adult, and having huge responsibilities. I’m not saying it was a better time of life. It isn’t a time where I say to myself, “man, I wish it was then instead of now.” I love my family, my job and my life. It isn’t about that at all. It is just a time of life that has been hidden in my mind for a long time. Years have rolled by and it has sat temporarily forgotten.

At nineteen, I was in Junior College, working at 1-Hour Moto Foto in Pacific Beach. That was pretty much it. I wasn’t yet thinking of marriage or children. I wasn’t building a corporation yet. I didn’t have people that depended on me. I had virtually no responsibilities other than paying my rent: $375 a month for my half. I was sharing a one-bedroom place with a friend of mine, and each week we would trade off possession of the only bed. The other person would sleep on the couch, which we bought at the swap meet for twenty dollars (yes it was gross).

At the time, I had goals, but they didn’t define me so much. I really was living life and enjoying it. During that time, it was all about my friendships. Every weekend was spent with friends, just enjoying each other’s company. We would have bonfires on Fiesta Island, and hang out at each other’s crappy apartments, where everything was second hand. We would go to Java Joe’s (coffee shop in OB) to listen to music, and I would play chess with Wolpoff (my best buddy).

About once a month, we would head down to Puerto Nuevo in Mexico. We would first go to this boat-shaped restaurant overlooking a cliff, and indulge in guacamole and chips while drinking a bucket of Cerveza. We would then go to a place called Lobster Camp, and enjoy the ocean views while eating lobster for under ten bucks.

Back at my apartment, friends would basically just show up. If nothing else was going on, we would go to the beach or barbecue. Plans would somehow form.

That summer, I decided it would be fun to take off to Japan. So I saved up enough for a flight and some entertainment and just left. In Japan, I traveled all over the place for a couple months by myself. There was very little preparation. I left my Moto Foto job, and said “see you in a couple months.” It was that easy.

I realize and understand that life has to change. The reality is that we have more responsibilities now. We have families to look after, and bills to pay. We have retirement to plan for, and kids’ college to save for. At nineteen, I didn’t really know what “being and adult” meant.

When I graduated college in 2000, I changed in a good way, and maybe also not the best way. I completely abandoned all balance. I dove into my company. For the next 10-plus years I worked 100-hour weeks. I was on a mission.

Now, just hearing that I worked 100-hour weeks and understanding what that meant are two very different things. Six to seven days a week, I worked from when I woke up until 2:00 am. It didn’t feel like work because I truly loved it. I still love it. But time and life moved fast. I didn’t see friends as much, and those relationships didn’t stay as strong. I didn’t see my family as much. I became one-dimensional.

When I was doing something other than my work, I was there but not always present. I was thinking about my next project or what I had to accomplish. The good part of this is that I got a lot done. Maybe that is what it takes to get to the next level. But it has now been fifteen years since I started True, and feels like it happened in a blink.

When I have beaten and survived this Cancer, my goal is to have balance and be present. I really want to bring back some elements of the nineteen-year version of myself. I was fun and carefree. I want to maintain and grow my friendships. I don’t want to live for my work. I want to work to live. I want my company to support my family and would love to see it continue to grow organically. But I want to enjoy the people around me much more.

I want to leave my responsibilities a little more, and just play a bit. I want to not just focus on getting somewhere, but be exactly where I’m at. I want to continue taking time to reflect.

I used to have the philosophy that looking back was a waste of time. I believed that the past was in the past for a reason, and concentrated on moving forward. I have changed my mind on this philosophy. Reflecting keeps you in touch with your core, and helps you move forward in the right direction. Looking back helps you remember who you were, and helps you understand what makes you truly happy.

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