Stories of my friends: Todd

When you know someone as well as I know Todd, telling an objective story about him is difficult.

Todd is wise, weird, funny, loving, occasionally insecure and a great writer. He is more flexible at 50 than I have been, well, ever. And the way he dotes on his dogs makes my heart soft.

He looks tough, but would rather sit down for a cup of coffee than fight. He comes across as goofy, but has the mind of a philosopher.

Todd recently moved to Greensboro, N.C., after 10 years in Denver, and finds himself having to adjust to the culture there.

I think this might be a good place to start. And I think I’m going to let Todd tell his own story.

Me: You were nearly mugged. Tell me about that.

Todd: It was scary. When they started to crowd and jostle me I found myself dissociating. I left my body — sort of — and kind of floated about. It was a trick I learned as a geeky asthmatic kid who was prone to being bullied. I’m minding my own business walking back from the store and these three young punks decided they wanted me to give them some money. I don’t think these young men are necessarily the ne’er-do-well types just youngsters that have a lot of time and no supervision.

I just lowered my shoulder and pushed myself through. I took boxing lessons in my twenties so I can deflect and throw a punch pretty good. I’m not sure how well those skills hold up if you don’t use them. The good news is I’m a pretty fast runner. Unfortunately, I have athletic induced asthma even in my top physical shape. I dislike violence. I’m not a pacifist by any means, but resorting to violence means the situation has slipped beyond reason.

Me: What other cultural differences stick out to you here as compared to Denver or Salem?

Todd: It feels like my life got really, really small suddenly. I’m waiting for it to bloom again. The transportation issue has prevented me from venturing out too far from home. I am considering buying a car, which I resent a little.

Me: Do you want to stay?

Todd: I have only been here two months. Ask me again in a year. My life has changed a little and I’m experiencing some frustrations because of that. Greensboro is a mellow and beautiful. It isn’t pedestrian friendly. It’s freaking difficulty getting to a yoga class. I still do yoga daily, but without occasional instruction I tend to get sloppy.

I want to experience North Carolina as much as possible before I make a decision. I didn’t do that as much in Colorado as I had planned.

Me: Where would you live if money wasn’t an issue?

Todd: Westport or Aberdeen, Wash. I have this fantasy about writing novels in a small coastal town and learning how to build wooden boats as a hobby. I love the ocean and I love sailing, although I haven’t had a lot of experience. I am in love with the idea. I might like to live in Anchorage or Juneau, Alaska, too — the Jack London lite experience. I had a great Uncle who lived in Nome and Fairbanks.

Me: How do you feel about socks?

Todd: I love socks. My ugly man feet become particularly offensive if I walk around in shoes with no socks. I especially love the white no show socks because I wear gym shorts most of the time I find pants really uncomfortable. I hate jeans and slacks. I’m in favor of kilts…easy, breezy.

Me: Do you have any regrets about your life?

Todd: I regret not finishing college. School was never my thing. I don’t have a lot of patience for the university culture. I love reading and learning, but as a young man my depression and emotional instability really got in the way. I’m not really motivated to go back and remedy that. I recognize that it is presenting some big obstacles career wise, but I’m not going to incur debt in my 50’s to compete with people half my age. It doesn’t make a lot of sense. People disagree with me all the time on this point. At this point it would have to be relevant to my career and I’m sick to death of business.

Sometimes I wish I had followed through on my novitiate program and entered into the Franciscan order. My heart was closer to the Carmelites or Trappists, but my temperament was suited for the more contemplative nature of those orders. It’s probably a good thing that I didn’t follow through though. My version of the Jesus mythology ultimately doesn’t make for good Catholicism. I’m also not good with authority.

Me: Say one nice thing about yourself

Todd: I know how to apologize sincerely when I’ve been wrong.