To 14 Year Old Me…

You guys, I wish this was a post that was going to deliver laughs by the bucket load.  I wish this was a post that would bump everyone up a few levels on the happiness scale without having to first take a dip… believe me, I do.  BECAUSE OF THAT, I will end this with one of the most adorable puppies you have ever seen and I promise that I will build from where this starts so that you never dip too low… I just ask that you trust me and take that first step.

14 year old Justin.  He was a piece of work.  TOTALLY socially awkward and with the WORST luck ever (even to the point of being “Bad Luck Brian”).

funeral erection

That was basically me as a meme when I was 14.  A decade later and ya never know… there are some pretty hot cadavers out there….

But I digress.  14 year old me.  Wow….

See, up until I was about 12, I was the luckiest dude on earth.  I had this group of friends who were all a good 3-5 years older than me.  They knew me (sometimes better than I knew myself) and despite whatever beliefs they had, they loved me.  Laura, Dan, Tony, Josh… those four…. Nobody in the world could have ever asked for better friends.  And here I was at 14 – 2 years later.  I was in a different city and playing the ever so familiar “I don’t need anybody/I’m gonna do this on my own” angsty teenager game.

And they stood by and let me go.  They let me be this idiot kid who had to do what he was gonna do because they knew what I would go through and they knew I would come out the other side.  I’ll never be able to thank them enough for that.

Hell, I was in 8th grade and I remember having a talk with Laura about being gay.  It would take me 6 more years to admit it (and then another 6 to confuse the hell out of what I really am) and still that night… I was so close back then and it was a casual, two sentence exchange of a side conversation…

Anyhow, all of this reflection is brought about because I read an article on ESPN today.  It was a “letter to my 14 year old self” or something or some sort.  Aaron Rogers wanted his younger self to not dive for a ball in a pick up game of basketball.  Andy Murray wanted his younger self to appreciate the feel of the racket, the bounce of the ball, and the pace of his heart.  And then… Robbie Rogers… Robbie wanted himself to know that he was not going to be alone.

And, being the sometimes sappy and emotional sort that I can be, I suddenly realized what I failed to see back then.  I wasn’t alone.  I may have had to be on my own for a while but I was never alone.  In my awkwardness, in my occasional suaveness, and in my killer dance moves (because SHOW CHOIR!), I was never truly alone.

And so I started thinking of what I would say to that gawky, 14 year old boy, who had no idea how to put an outfit together, let alone how to make it through a day without herp-derping something insanely awkward and maybe even tripping up a flight of stairs.  I came upon a nightly ritual wherein I remember I would clutch onto my pillow and have an inner discourse about the existence of God combined with prayer to change me back to straight.

Ladies' man?  Derpapottamus?  You pick...

Ladies’ man? Derpapottamus? You pick…

There’s nothing I could say to him that would keep his future – my present – what it is now.  I couldn’t tell him that I’d discover what it means to feel “Love” through the pain of heartbreak.  I couldn’t tell him that his classmates already know.  I couldn’t even tell him of the Seattle Sounders, the Emerald City Supporters, the USMNT, Tanya, Ryan, Brady, Eric, Nick… All I could tell him would be a simple “Stay the course.”

And so when all the eloquence of words fails me, that is what I come to.  If I were given the chance to talk to my 14 year old self and help him rest easier at night, that’s all I could say.  “Stay the course.”

Upon a decade’s reflection, I can’t even begin to quantify the things I have discovered about myself and the people I hold dear.  I’ve gone from dreamer to musician to wannabe lawyer and then back to musician before finally swinging around to writer.  I’ve been a boyfriend, a best friend, and I’ve even managed to grow from the mistakes I’ve made.  And all of that, I had to do on my own.  And a part of me wonders if that’s what Laura may have seen a glimpse of on that night so long ago…

And so here I am, thinking back upon the last decade of my life and what I would say to that boy who tried so hard to hide and would wait another ten years to figure out who he truly is – beyond just a word.  I look around to the friends I’ve made and the friends who have been there all along and realize just how blessed I have been.  I have music, soccer, writing, movies, and even the occasional heart to heart all wrapped up into 24 hour doses that repeat every single day… That is what 14 year old me has to look forward to.

So what would I say and how would I say it to him?  Well… despite the fact that I no longer play an instrument, this is my corps.  This is the corps I auditioned for and this is the piece of music that made me truly fall in love with music and performing.  There will never be another feeling in my life like running through this piece with them in the arc… and it says all it needs to.  14 year old me would listen and he would begin a journey of understanding that even a decade later, he is still unraveling…

“…But the fighter still remains…”

And oh what he’ll find.

He’ll find a brother…

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He’ll find a family…

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He’ll find something he loves…

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“Are you Tanya? We’ve heard you’re kinda awesome…”

And he’ll even find people who won’t even realize the impact they truly make on him…

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So why spoil all of that?  What else could I say to keep him going yet not reveal all the wonders and surprises to come?

 

“…Oh lord I wanna be in that number, when the Yanks go marching in…”

KC Outlaws Section

Phew… we make it through that okay?  Everyone still here?  Good.  Here’s a puppy.

happy puppy

Until next time.

See you, Space Cowboys.

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Pride 2012: The Pregame Post

Here I am trying to come up with another post so I can stick to this “weekly” shebang I’ve got going on.  In all honesty, I felt like this week’s post really needed to be Pride centered (as it’s Iowa City Pride this week/end) but what can I really say about that?  I’ve said a lot, beaten a lot of drums, and said just about all I can on the subject for the moment… or so I thought.

SURPRISE!

See, I’ve adequately established that I’m a nerd.  I’ve cemented myself as a patriot, liberal, and gay man… but I don’t think I’ve ever tried to put each of those in perspective relevant to… well… all of who I am.

I’ll keep this Pride centered as it is prime-time for that type of a post.  I think the easiest thing to say is that while I am a nerd, a gay dude, a gear head, a RABID soccer fan, writer, reader, etc etc… while I am all of those, it is all of those things TOGETHER that makes me uh… well… not even all that makes me, me… but it’s a start.

One of my all time favorite pictures. Love that girl. She’s one amazing woman.

Ever so often we all focus on what “defines” us.  We’re defined not only by our likes, dislikes, personality, and persona, but also by the experiences we have been through and have yet to go through, the music that moves us, and the shoulders we lean on when we need to AND EVEN THEN… we barely scratch the surface of the magnificent creatures we all have the potential to be.

So Pride.  That word holds meaning for every single person, regardless of orientation, history, ethnicity, etc etc.  Celebrating what makes us us is important.  Yes, for the LGBTQ community, it is SO IMPORTANT to recognize and celebrate the fight for equality but after that is over, the celebration will carry even more importance as a reminder of where we’ve been.  It’s a part of who we are as individuals in this community and in the fight for equality but THE DAY WILL COME WHEN WE ARE NO LONGER FIGHTING.  So plan for that day.

I don’t know when it will be.  The set date doesn’t matter until it arrives.  What matters is that we never EVER forget who we are as people – the whole package of US.  I intend to celebrate that this coming Saturday.  I get to be with two people who are very, very special to me (in different regards… don’t be all “OMG RISQUE!  3 WAY” or whatever lolz) and I fully intend to celebrate way more than the simple fact that I’m a gay man.  I intend to celebrate the events in my life, both blindingly bright and frighteningly dark, that made me who I am.  I intend to be a nerd, a soccer fan, a gear-head, a dog lover, a foodie, a runner, a comedian, a writer, a reader, a geek, a dork, a doofus, a brother, a friend, and a son.  I intend to celebrate being Justin Richard mother-fucking Plasket.  THAT is what Pride is.  That is what it should be… TO EVERYONE.  So celebrate!

And I’m so far beyond excited that I can’t even sleep right now.  (Though this is not being published until Thursday afternoon, I’m sitting here at 1:10am on Thursday morning, banging away on the keyboard)