Blast From The Past

When I got home from work this afternoon my wife was smiling.  She had been cleaning house, and going through drawers in her bid to deck the halls today.  And her smile was the result of this treasure hunt.

She tells me, “You are not going to be able to stand it.  It is just too much.”  Of course, having been married to her for 16 years, I knew exactly what she was talking about:  “The Foof”.  “The Foof” was the name we had for our youngest when he was a toddler.  Don’t ask.   He stopped being “The Foof” when he was around the age of 5, give or take (again, don’t ask.  No secret, just no real reason).

She then hands me a ziploc bag.   She had found a stash of long lost pictures of our youngest son doing all the things that we sit around, when it is just her and I, and reminisce about.  They had all been stuck in a box, in a drawer, in our china cabinet when we were moving back from Laramie (had to save space…trucks are billed by the size).

Being Texans, we absolutely hated Laramie.   It was cold the entire time we were there.  The people, while not jerks, were not the “Texas friendly” we were used to (ok, sometimes they were jerks.  Maybe even often times, but who’s keeping track?).  And I had taken a huge leap of faith for a company that set me up with a mix between a clown and a monkey for a boss (thus guaranteeing failure of the endeavor).  It was bad times for us.  That trip strained my marriage more than anything ever has, which in the long run has really created a stronger bond for us.  But the upside has always been that the experience I gained from that, as negative as it may have been, has been the greatest asset to my professional career that I have.  It completely changed the nature of the manager that I was.

But these pictures.  Truly, they represent the bulk of my fondest memories of my youngest son.  Of course, we were only there for a year or so.  A short amount of time.  But it was while he was 3 or 4, that time in his life where he was smart enough to play some real good make believe, but still carefree enough to have zero notion of looking like a fool.  A precocious child, he thought nothing of putting on a show for everyone at the front of the local Wal Mart, where he had to display his pure lightning speed.  Or even the town square on Halloween, where the town was treated to his rendition of what the Red Power Ranger does (complete with several weapons that had full sound effects and his Red Power Ranger costume that he insisted on us buying even though it was too small).

I looked through the photo’s, taken with disposable cameras that we bought weekly (just to get lots of pictures of our rambunctious and hilariously lively children).  When we lived in Laramie, there wasn’t a whole lot to do other than be inside.  So we bought lots of toys, and did lots of indoor things.  We had a permanent installation of Hot Wheels tracks strung down the hall ways, out of rooms, through multiple loops, turns, drops, and boosting mechanisms.  And then there were the daily snowball fights between the oldest and the youngest (well, when there was snow…which was often, mostly because it is too cold to really melt very well).

There were several others with both my sons, acting silly at the park, or hanging out on the couch watching TV.  One where they had built a snowman.  Lots of really good memories in that little ziploc bag.

It was bittersweet, to be honest.  The youngest is getting older now, and worries about things like dad kissing his cheeks in public.  But he was, and still is, my baby.  The oldest is a freshman at college, fully grown and thriving.   After looking through these pictures it made me wonder:  was Laramie all that bad?  Certainly it was cold.  And the job I was there for was a pressure cooker (I was the only manager to survive that debacle, and went on for another 6 years running various other departments in another location).  But when I remember all the times I had with my boys.  At the parks (even if it was 5 below zero), bowling, or just watching the youngest in his “tighty whitey’s”, with Power Ranger swords stuffed down the sides pretending to be The Red Ranger (with either my wife or I unwittingly playing the role of his “worstest emeny”), I remember that some of the best memories are from Laramie.  The memories that bring a tear to my eye.

I think, in retrospect, I have nothing to justify my negative feelings about that time spent up there.  I only wish I could do it again.  When I pulled out of Laramie at 6am on that snowy June morning, I never in my wildest dreams thought that I would wish that I could go through what I was leaving behind all over again.

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