First Life

I mean, I was cup ball king of the sand pit at the Lattimore softball field. What more is there really to say? I loved just about everything about growing up. Being coached by my dad and brother and rooted on by my mom and sister. Winning championships in Little League basketball, and in baseball we were little league, middle school, and high school champs–state champs in summer ball!

I grew up on campus at GW. Riding bikes through the campus, wiping up sweat at the basketball games. I literally grew up on the campus. About as Gardner-Webb as a person can be. Alas…

I won the Optimist Oratorical contest in 8th grade and was French student of the year in 7th or 8th–whichever one Gabe Whisnant didn’t win. I was one of two from our area selected to go to Presidential Classroom in D.C. my junior year. Junior Marshall.

Crest Crazy. Active in Young Life and FCA and Youth group. And the vaunted Nine Six–still an active cell by the way.

In other words I had it all together. At least I was really good at creating the perception of that being the case. Don’t get me wrong most all of my memories I am quite fond of. Riding along with my big bro in the Ford Escort or singing real loud and making stuff up on a cassette tape recorder with my sister. Playing Jeopardy with the family after sitting around the table and using the fondue pot to cook up some steak–I was always the orange skewers.

There were some tough times too, though. Some that still haunt me. Some that are a part of life and living. I remember sliding a picture of myself in my Granddaddy’s suit pocket while his body was lying in the casket at the funeral home–not sure what the psychology of that was other than that I hoped he would remember me… or maybe I hoped somehow I could remember him through that act. My Mawmaw died a few years later an hour or so after we left her house on a weekend afternoon.

And too much of the time back then I thought way more of myself than I should have. I wish I could take back the too many times I was an arrogant jerk. Some people say they don’t have regrets. I have plenty.

I’ve always been a seeker. A searcher. And I lost the path for a bit when I went to Davidson College. Turns out it’s important to go to class. I didn’t do much of that–especially second semester. I drifted a bit too far from the shore and had a tough time finding my way back. I’m not proud of that story, but just like Tow-Mater in Cars2 those are dents that I have that make me who I am. I always tell my students at school, that the failure I experienced in that regard–well, if it wouldn’t have happened I wouldn’t have ended up back at Gardner-Webb and I wouldn’t have been in that Philosophy class that this girl named Sarah Donaldson was in…. So yeah.

I was still swirling when I got to GW. Still seeking. Then I met her…

So there I was, long-haired and barefoot and trying to find my way. Wondering and Wandering. And the bell tower tolled 8 and the sun began to set, and then clippity-clop, she made her way in a horse drawn carriage around to find me. And the first chapter of my life, the one without her, came to a close…

(Second Life and Third Life to follow in the next few days. )

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