Six Boxes

I don’t think anyone really knows what to expect from this thing we call life. Everyone tries to understand it but only a few seem to get it or at least they pretend that they have a plan for life. As a kid you don’t have to think about making decisions you’re free to explore, to play and wonder, To wake up early and watch the light of the sun creep across the horizon , to stay up late to watch the moonlight dance through the trees. Many long for those days again, the nostalgia of not having to worry about paying bills, taxes and whatever other drama fills the average adult life. You don’t know who you are in till you fend for your self, when you’re out there alone contemplating if you should spend your last $10 on gas or a burger from Mc. Donald’s. You’ll gain a whole new appreciation for life when your up against these sort of decisions, I certainly have.

I didn’t get out on my own till I was 22 when I moved to Dallas for a new job. I got laid off back in California and couldn’t find new work. My old self was this snarky thought-he-knew-it-all idiot that don’t have a single clue what he wanted to do or what the hell was going on around him. Boy was he in a for a bit of a surprise walking off that airplane.

For most of my life I have lived with one of my parents (they split when I was young) I lived with my Mom and Brother in a 1200 square foot two bedroom apartment for about 9 years before I left, it was a hard decision to make. I left everything, my friends, my family all the good and bad memories, the places I loved to visit and the parks I loved to hangout at, the comic store I had spent way to much money at, all of it was left behind. I packed my entire life into six boxes and shipped them three states over, I mine as well have been moving Mars at that point. Everything was different, the people, the customs even the air smelled different. Dallas, by population, is a far bigger city then Sacramento ,and I hated it. I was scared out of my mind I had never done something like this. Moved to a place that I had no history with, nothing it was a blank canvas , a fresh start , No one knew who I was back in California all the stupid crap I said and did here wad left there I could be someone different here.

3 months after I moved I got my own place, my first apartment ever. A whole 800 square feel was mine and I had no idea what to do with any of it. Actually I signed a lease for a one bedroom a few weeks before hand in the same complex however upon the day I was to move an inspection of the place revealed that the old tenets destroyed it. From what I was told the kitchen appliances where torn apart, carpet was ripped up and some items didn’t even work. I ended up with a two bedroom place with a great deal, for the first year I would pay the same rent as the other unit I had signed for and two weeks later I had the keys in hand. So there I was, six boxes of stuff an empty apartment and a growling stomach. The first few months consisted of a lot of pizza and tacos while I figured out how to cook for my self. Now I know how to cook a few dishes but you end up getting tired of the same thing over and over again. Since then I have learned how to cook plenty even though I don’t cook everyday, I work a weird 10am — 7pm schedule which doesn’t leave a whole lot of time to cook. My Dad and Step-Mom helped me a lot during this period, they even had a bet that 3 months in I would be calling them up for money , I was horrible wih handling money back then if I had it I’d spend it. Well three years down the road and I still haven’t placed that call. I owe them both a lot, from giving me a place to stay for a while to just showing me how balance my budget, which actually proved useful a few months back when I finally got my drivers license and backed my Dad’s truck into a parked car the same day at a subway parking lot across the street from the DMV, yup very proud moment there. I’m not playing favorites here, I owe my Mom a lot as well, she did everything she could to keep a roof over our heads even if it wasn’t our own.

It was a rough few months at the beginning there I had no car so figuring out how to get groceries home was a challenge. Good thing all the shops were within a mile of my place I just had to hop on my bike load up the food and ride home Only that wasn’t as easy as it sounds. Sundays were marked as my shopping days provided the weather held together , I’m still not use to the wacky weather they have here I swear we can have all four seasons in a single week. I would ride up to the store collect a weeks worth of food dump into a duffle bag and ride home, My shoulders hated me so much. I also lived only a 10 minute walk from a CVS, I would stop by here and grab a few other items like a 2 1/2 gallon jug of water and lug that home. It took my a while before I found out about these things called panniers which I could attach to the rack of my bike so I could carry groceries this was a life changer. I could carry much more food with little effort, best $50 I have ever spent

That wasn’t the only challenge I had to solve; I am bit of a messy person. I didn’t know how bad I was till the dishes started stacking up in the sink and mold started to grow. I basically had to go in with a full hazmat suit and a flame thrower, I spent a good half hour to 45 minutes cleaning this mess up, I took two showers after and swore never again.

Each day brought a new challenge; laundry was something I figured was easy to understand and execute however several destroyed shirts and pink colored towels, they were gray when I bought them, I learned to pay attention to the tags and to separate colors. Trial and error was the way I went on most situations from learning how not to use some cleaners when mopping the vinyl wood flooring to getting a vacuum that worked properly, always go with a corded vacuum the battery powered cordless ones don’t last long enough, I went through three before I found one that worked for me.

I started with six boxes of stuff when I moved in, I’m not sure if I wanna know how many boxes it would take now. I didn’t realize how much crap I collected over the last three years I have lived here. I mean I opened a kitchen drawer the other day and couldn’t figure out how or why I own two ice creams scoops, I haven’t had any ice cream in the place for well over a year. At the start it was just furniture I collected, a couch from my Dad, kitchen table and chairs from a co worker, some weird hand made bench thing where my Lego sets now are displayed, a magazine rack/lamp/nightstand combo thing my Step-Mom had given me, I feel like when ever they are getting ride of their own crap I just end up with it. I think it was two maybe three weeks before I owned an actual mattress. I had one of those air mattresses you would take on a camping trip, I still have It stored away, that I slept on sometimes. Most nights I was to tired to air it up so I would curl up on my couch for the night, I was too long for it so my back hurt a lot. I believe I owned the bed frame before I actually had the mattress which by the way I slept like a rock the first night I had it.

The next challenge which I’m still overcoming: making friends. I’m naturally a shy introvert person which doesn’t help when trying to make friends. Even worse is trying to find people I like in a city where I knew no one, also it doesn’t help being an adult either so all the odds were working against me on this front. I mean I did hang out with co workers after hours at bars and sometimes I got invited to parties at their place but I always felt like the out of place. I mean here I am a city guy living just outside of a giant metroplex who has no idea what to do with him self at a crawfish boil with a bunch of native Texans who are talking about football and going fishing. Not really my sort of people , don’t get me wrong there’re great people but I don’t see me becoming fast friends with them. I left all my friends back in California and yeah I keep up with them but we each have our own lives now , there off going to collage getting married and having kids and here I am on a Friday night with a beer and Netflix, not really the Netflix and chill I was looking for.

I don’t remember how I found out about it might have been through a co-worker or something I saw online but there was a convention happening early in the summer time. Sacramento had their fair share of conventions however I soon discovered that the convention scene was huge in Dallas. You wouldn’t know it but there’s one happening every month sometimes there’s two in the same weekend. This one was the big one commonly referred to as the “Dallas Comic Con” that happens in June. I have been to conventions before however this would be the biggest, going in I had no idea what to expect certainly not the ocean of people I would have to wade through. Usually I make an effort to avoid these sort of situations were people would be like when I am at the grocery store I work my walk through as fast as I can so I can get out. I don’t like big groups of people all packed together like sardines, which begs the question as to why I submit myself to a convention where 100s if not thousands of people would be? Simple; I shared the same interests as they did. So I plopped down the $50 or so for the ticket, most expensive convention in the city, and went. I had blast despite the uncountable number of people walking in every which direction. I didn’t know it at the time but some of these sardines I would become acquainted with later down the road. I was hooked, I loved every moment of being at the convention. Everyone there I could relate with I didn’t have to hide any part of my self at all I could be as geeky as I wanted to they understood and for the most part were doing the same. Albeit I was only there for a day it was amazing meeting some of the celebrities talking with strangers that I never met before but could hold a conversation with since we were all interested in the same subjects. This was at the point of the transition were I was beginning to assimilate into the city but quit haven’t discovered what is what around the area. It would take a little while longer and several more conventions before that took place, I think I went to almost every convention in the area that year.

It would take a while but I would end up falling in love with the city. It’s such an active place to be there is always something going on, the people are nice considering the neighborhood I came from where people didn’t want anything to do with each other. It was a long time before some habits broke like not carrying a knife everywhere I went or walking home at night without worrying I would get jumped, happened a couple times before in California.

The thing that also helped me with discovering the city and what it had to offer was cycling. I actually ride a bike to work everyday, it’s only a 1 mile one way. Before hand I had no knowledge of anything Bike related however I would discover that owning a bike is much more complicated than I could imagine, did you know there is a whole online community dedicated to bike commuting? I thought I was crazy for riding to work but some of these people ride 5,10 even 20 miles to work. I learned a lot from this forum, I say forum but really it’s a subreddit, about the type of gear needed for each weather condition, safety when on the roads, how to deal with drivers who are being jackasses and much more. I have no idea such a thing existed but I’m glad it does knowing that I’m not the only odd ball riding a bike around town because he doesn’t own a car. I own two bikes; my Trek hybrid for commuting and a Marin road bike for group and long distance rides. I use to own a mountain bike which I used for commuting however I sold that for a cool $150 in cash. As it turns out Dallas has a big cycling scene here and by that I don’t just mean the people who also commute to work via bike, which is a lot meow thank I thought, no there are people who actually will get up at 6am on a Saturday drive out to a meeting point and ride 50 miles or so in a groups ranging from 10–25 cyclists. Actually there’s a ride almost every day of the week and for some this is there exercise regiment. I have joined a few of these rides and enjoy it very much it’s a good way to get out the house and see the town. I live close White Rock Lake which is a popular cycling area. I’ll ride the 7 miles down to the lake do one or two laps and head back up the tail back home which ends up being about 32 miles total. I know seems crazy right? However that’s not the longest ride I have ever done; one Friday night my Dad, who is really into this group cycling and actually had started learning how lead some of these groups, calls me up and asks if I wanted to join him and a few other guys he knew on a casual breweries ride. We would start in Arlington from one or the guy’s house and make our way up to Fort Worth and back stopping a few local breweries, Dallas also had a booming micro brewery thing going on I recommend the Dallas Blond whenever you get a chance. This was my first big ride ever and I was the slowest out of the group by far but it was a lot of fun. 52 miles, 3 breweries, 7 maybe several more beers later I was buzzed and my legs burned horribly. I didn’t think your legs could feel like the surface of the sun. We ended up stopped at a Walgreens and someone handed me a snickers bar which believe it or not actually helped due to the sugar. 5 miles later my legs felt better and we finished the ride.

Although the pain I felt here was nothing compared to the back pain I had after being hit by a car, I was riding home through a parking lot after going to Oktoberfest which you should totally go to. So I’m riding home on my bike a bit buzzed going slow through this parking lot when at the corner of my eye I noticed a small red car headed towards me. By this point it was already to late once I saw the red color I was already in the air. The lady had t-boned me so hard that my bike flew off in one direction while I bounced off the car’s hood and got launched into the air. Before I knew it I was on my hands and knees attempting to process what just took place. The lady in the car got out looked at me got back in the car and drove off. What I should have done was stopped her and got her information but I was disoriented after all that. I’m not sure what damage occurred on her car but the front of my bike was crunched, I actually still have this rim sitting next to my fireplace as a reminder, while there were people who saw what took place no one decided to come up to lend any help. After I had caught my breath I got up collected myself went over to where my bike had landed and picked it up and headed home. I walked my bike the mile and half home while calling my parents up letting them know what had just taken place. I also left a message for my boss letting him know I may not make it to work the next day since probably won’t be able to get out of bed. I walked into the door of my apartment propped my bike up took a seat and just sat there for a while tears building up in my eyes. I still couldn’t believe what had happened that someone had actually hit me. At this point I started feeling my back as the adrenaline started to wear off. It didn’t feel good. what made the situation suck worse is that I also lost the collectible Oktoberfest mug I had bought a few hours earlier, I do this every year I go. It wasn’t the fact I got it by a car or that my back hurt like hell or even that I lost a stupid mug it was the fact that for the first time in my life there was no one around that I could go to for help. It use to be that whenever I need help with anything I could walk to a neighbor’s place or call up a friend and they would come to my aid, I would also return the favor whenever anyone asked for my help. However at this very moment I had no one sure I called up my parents but the closest was my Dad and Step Mom and they lived on the other side of town at the time. I mean they would have driven the 30 something miles out no question but I got my self home and nothing was broken physically. It would take a few weeks before my back recovered from the incident however it would a lot longer before I fully recovered. I didn’t get on my bike for about a week after I don’t want to say because I was scare to but I’d be lying. Part of me was scared to even get back on and I don’t think it’s that crazy. I’m sure plenty of people go through something similar after being an accident like this. This wasn’t just about getting hit this was more to do with life slapping me in the face and realizing that I was on my own despite having family close by I had to deal with this situation myself. No one was going to lend me a hand and I shouldn’t expect anyone to do so. I learned that if I was going to make it anywhere I was going to have to do it alone. It may be true that there is plenty of kind hearted people out in the world but when it truly counts only a few will ever step up when the situation calls for it, it just so happens that no one did so when I need someone the most. I shouldn’t be so harsh my Dad helped me by getting me a new rim for my bike and he was there when I needed someone to talk to so there’re people you can count on to be there for when you need them to. Eventually I returned to riding to work on my bike and I would go one joining more group rides and purchasing a new road bike so I could keep up with these people, actually there more machine then human at this point I mean some of these people average 18+ mph on a ride.

All in all I’m still growing, still looking for who I am, still learning how harsh life can be sometimes. Everyday brings something new to the board and at times it does seem overwhelming. There’s times I dive into video games to escape reality because it’s to much to deal with, I mean I’m a mess during tax time. The experience of moving to a whole new city has taught me many things that I might not have learned back in California. When I moved it was a completely new start for everything and I get to build my own path. Along the way I have many mistakes but the most important thing I have learned during this time is that even though it may be scary, it may be something you have never attempted before and you have absolutely no idea how it will turn out don’t not take the adventure Don’t not make that choice that could changes your life don’t not take that leap just because you are unsure of yourself. You’d be surprised at the outcome I know in was. I have met some pretty incrediable people seem some amazing things and done some really cool stuff, I just got back from my third Dallas Comic Con and I actually know some people that attended it was fun running around the convention floor with them. Coming to Dallas changed the direction of my life. Back there I was just some douchebag siting around doing nothing getting fat with no direction to follow now at least I have something going for me and even though it’s not solid yet I’m looking forward to the next chapter in my life, whatever that may be I still have a lot to figure out but I’m glad I did it.

Here’s to my Parents (all 3 of them) telling me to always go for my dreams and to my Dad telling me do to what they said couldn’t be done.