My life has been a life of turmoil and — if I am to be perfectly honest — failure. To the outside world the clearest expression of the turmoil in my life was my all-too-frequent decision to pack up my bags and relocate to a new city, more often than not a new state. I have exercised this option fifteen times in my life. While this has mostly been bouncing back and forth between Spokane and Dallas, along the way I have also lived in Denver, Nashville, Charlotte and Minneapolis. For anyone who might suggest I am being overly harsh on myself by describing my life as a life of failure, I only need to point to who I was as a teen and who I became as an adult, The promise of my high school never translated into any success in life as an adult.
There is another clear expression of the failure of my life. Like most people I often feel the need to brag. However, until recently when I have decided to take some bold steps to come to terms with my identity, there was little in my past deserving of boast. So whenever I felt the urge to boast or brag I would brag about my older brother. There was a time in our lives when one would have bet every dollar they had that I would be very successful in life and that he would be a total failure. However, we both would have proved these bettors wrong.
I am not so different than most siblings. I look up to my older sibling. I am more fortuate than many of these siblings in that my older sibling is a man who is deserving of my admiration, a man who despite a checkered path as a student in high school and a young adult pulled himself up and made a life for himself. When he really needed to do what was best for his family, he went back to school and earned degrees in computer science and engineering. He overcame every challenge he faced as best I can see from my vantage point. When ever I felt to tell a story of success and accomplishment I would tell the story of my older brother, He and his wife have accomplished so much while at the same time I was doing nothing with my life. I would tell the story of my brother with pride and love.
Generally speaking when one talk about my moves and the disruiptive impact it had on my family, they all suffered. At one time or another I have had to crash in the homes of every single one of my siblings and seven times in my life — seven times from four siblings — I have been asked to leave. On occasion, ‘ask’ would be a mild choice of terms. For the most part I would say that my moves back to Washington from whereever I had been had the greatest disruptive impact on Mom. The fifteen moves I mentioned do not include the three or four times she took me into her home in Onion Creek. And when it came to my moves away form Spokane, I moved to Dallas four times in my life and each of these moves had placed a burden on my older brother and his family.
Case in point. The first time I lived with him I was apparently awaken one morning and asked ‘Where is our car?” I had borrowed it the previous evening to go out drinking. I do not recall this incident and at the time, according to those who do recall the incident, I did not recall where I had left the car. It was discovered a few blocks away. Why I had left it where I did I cannot even imagine. How they had the fortune to find it is maybe even more bewildering. There was a newborn in the house and despite all the love my brother felt for me he had to make the tough choice to kick me out. I ended up in a cheap motel sharing an address with crack whores and cock roaches. If that has the feel of a harsh exile understand that it would not be the last time I lived in cheap motel and more often than not I did so because I could not afford any better and because I did not deserve any better.
While my frequent moves were a visible expression of the turmoil in my life, those who knew me best came to see alcohol as the root cause of my turmoil. They would not be wrong. However there was something deeper. I often moved with the hope of finally finding a life for myself that worked. I can not discount the impact alcohol had on my life but I was also living a life that seemed hopeless that was directly related to my gender issues. When I was in high school, despite my internal struggles, I wanted what we all wanted for my life — success, career, family, home, security, health, love. When I left Spokane the first time in the early spring of 1981, I had given up hope that I would ever see any of those expressions of a good life.
As my life became increasingly plagued by despair, self-destructive behaviors and irresponsibility, my older brother inceasingly became a man worthy of my respect and admiration, I often turned to him for help. Whatever my situation or his may have been, each time I did so I placed him in the position of having to make a choice between helping me or focusing on the needs of his immedite family. I was doing so little to help myself it is not surprising that he often made the tough call and said ‘No.’ I will not lie. I often hated my brother for these refusals. However, I am where I am today because of the tough choices my older brother and my other siblings have made. And I feel really good about where I am today.
I feel I have finally begun to find myself and begun to rack up some successes in my life. However, I am still not living the life that has been beyond my grasp for most of my life. This blog to a great extent is an examination of my life towards the goal of finding some of the answers I need to move forward in my life. It will rarely paint a pretty picture of me.
If for instance you have memories of me in Rosalia, you may remember an honor student, the class President of his junior class, a representative to Boys State, someone clearly focused on teaching history as a career. There is nothing about who I was then that speaks to who I became as an adult. The exact opposite is true of my older brother. I suspect most who know him from his Rosalia years would be astonished to learn of his professional and personal successes in life. I have often proudly told the story of my older brother and I suspect despite some of my own more recent successes I have not told that story for the last time.
I would like to end this post with one more observation. I have focused on my older brother because this is a story about the turmoil in my life and every time I moved to Dallas he felt the blunt of that turmoil. I am equally proud of each of my siblings. Each of them have faced their own challenges in life and made a life for themselves. However, at the same time, it is really great to have an older sibling that you can look up to and aspire to emulate.
I love you all and hope to one day prove myself worthy of the love you have shown me over the years.