This Is Growing Up.

I had a bit of an epiphany the other night. My wife, The Reader, asked me to go through my shirts and pull a few out to donate to Goodwill. Our closet is tiny, and our little stack of drawers can only hold so much. As I went through them, I found numerous comic book and cartoon shirts, along with some more “grown-up” looking shirts — you know, shirts with buttons and patterns and long sleeves and such.

And then an odd thing happened.

I found myself gravitating toward the grown-up shirts. After years of wanting to hold onto things that reminded me of my childhood, I felt like it was finally time to let a few of them go.

[Note: I said “a few” — not all. I highly doubt anything will ever come between me and Batman.]

Oddly enough, I cannot begin to describe the relief and the peace that it brought me. It was like I was letting go of something that had been holding me back — an anchor dragging in the sand of the sea.

Of course, I’m not saying that owning comic book paraphernalia or throwbacks to 90s-era Saturday morning cartoons are bad things. Not at all. I still have quite a few comic books, trade paperbacks and t-shirts. I still have a framed poster of Heath Ledger as the Joker on our living room wall. I’ve just thinned the herd a bit. And, honestly, keeping some of it all these years has made me realize that I was trying so hard to hold onto who I used to be that I was not willing to welcome who I wanted to be.

Ladies and gentlemen, I have grand ambitions. That much is no secret. Some of those ambitions have been discussed and written about publicly and — particularly for the first one listed below — at great length. Others, like the second, have been revealed only to a select few.

Until now, that is.

  • I want to publish a novel. More than that, I want to publish novels — plural. I have been writing stories for the majority of my life, and I would feel it a complete waste if at least some of them did not see the light of day. I managed to publish a short story locally (and it even won an award), but that’s not enough. I want the long form. I want the distribution. I want to walk into a chain bookstore and see my words on the shelf. Yes, it is hard. Yes, it requires a bit of luck. But I’ll be damned if I won’t find a way to make it happen.
  • I want to become a teacher. Specifically, I want to become a college professor. This is a relatively new aim, and it came about in a completely weird and wonderful way, which I will expand upon in my next blog entry. Until then, I’ll leave it at this: my wife knows me better than I know myself sometimes. And I love her all the more for it.
  • I want a life of adventure. Working nine to five and then coming home and watching TV until I retire is not enough for me. I want an adventure for myself and my family. I want our lives to be a story worth telling. I want to experience as much of the world as I can in the time I have. Some people don’t mind living the daily grind as long as they have their support systems in place: the spouse they love, the family they live for, the friends they can count upon. And that is perfectly fine … for them. But it isn’t for me. I’m not saying I’m better than them — I just have a different philosophy. We get one life. One chance. And I want to make sure that my family never feels like our time was wasted. We may never be wealthy, but that doesn’t mean our lives can’t be full of riches.

So I made my pile. I said goodbye to some of the things I had been holding onto. I settled into the idea that, yes, I could be the kind of man that wears nice shirts with buttons on a somewhat frequent basis — even if I do wear some of my comic shirts underneath them.

Yes, I’m growing up — but I’m still me.

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About [rlh]

Ryan L. Haddock is an aspiring writer, emphasis on the "aspiring." He mostly writes short stories, but that is only because he doesn't seem to have the attention span necessary to write a novel. At least, not yet. He is also a husband and a father . . . yet he is still struggling valiantly against the notion that he has to grow up. View all posts by [rlh]

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