Quarter Life Crisis

There’s a moment in your late 20’s when reality slams into you like a pile of bricks. It’s a moment where you realize that all the things you wanted out of life, you may not get. Or maybe that your expectations need to be heavily adjusted. I had this moment last year. I had been working my butt off as an actor and was on the precipice of premiering my solo show, a show I had been working on for months. It was the first time in my professional career where something I wrote, produced, and starred in would be shown to the world (or the local Chicagoland area). It was called “Elizabeth” after my mother and it had comedic/dramatic monologues, sketches, musical numbers, and even fight sequences (you had to see to believe it).

About a month before the show had it’s premiere, I received a phone call…

You see, I was adopted in my early 20’s. I don’t mean legally of course, but, in a way, stronger than anything the legal system could make up. My best friend at the time told me that his family was looking for a housemate to fill the spare room in his house while he was off to college. I would have no idea of course but living in that that house probably was the happiest moment of my life. My actual family is beautiful and I love them to death but I didn’t grow up in a “functional” home. I was a struggling kid. My father was military which meant that he was never around and when he was around, he would either be drinking or reading the paper. We don’t talk anymore.

The house at Homosassa was a jungle. An acre home where there were at least two dogs, a few cats, chickens, and for a short time, a small iguana. The house was never clean for long but how could it? Inside was a family that loved and supported each other, who all had their own eccentricities. The mom was into buying way too much at thrift stores and craft-making. The dad was into repairing stuff around the house and would sit on his sofa chair and watch Star Trek until he’d pass out. The oldest son, my best friend, was an entrepreneur, always hatching up plans for his next money-making venture. And the youngest liked to spend his days on the beach, with his row team, playing in the mud, almost always half nekked (that’s how the locals would pronounce it). For me to be a part of this family is probably the greatest honor that could have happened to me.

I moved away to Chicago to pursue my dreams in acting. I had to get out and try while I was still young, dumb and full of spunk. I got a few gigs here and there, went to school for improv classes, and then slowly but surely I started doing the things I wanted to do (TV show appearances, commercials, even a small part in an indie film). I was happy. The funny thing about life is that it doesn’t matter how happy or sad you are at a given time. When bad news hits, you never expect it.

… “He passed away last night”. My heart dropped. The kid I used to spend my days watching bad horror movies with and getting into long conversations about nothing with, went to sleep that night and did not wake up.

That was a year ago. Everything seems to be a blur now. The news hitting me while I was at home on the couch, balling my eyes out. The Funeral. Everything. I learned a lot about how I felt about God (there is none, how could anyone be so cruel and say that it happened for a reason?), how I felt about relationships and friends (invest everything you can into them, don’t take them for granted because they’re the most important thing), and how I feel about life. You see, this whole thing happened at a crazy time in our country (this is not a political thing, don’t worry). Headlines about overzealous cops, politicians with scary agendas, and the Pulse Nightclub attack which happened in my hometown (a club I used to frequent when I was younger). It seemed like the world was hopeless. I was hopeless.

There’s something about getting older when you think about all the decisions you make and ask yourself is it really worth it? Why didn’t I spend time with more friends? Why did I act like such an ass? Why am I still doing so many silly things, have I not learned better? All these questions and more. But the most daunting is, where is the hope? With the way people act toward one another and how divided we are as a country. It’s hard to imagine there ever being any hope in the first place.

It got so bad, I started having severe thoughts of depression and yes, suicide. I didn’t want to be in a world where this much pain and anger was around. It didn’t seem worth it. I had to face some serious truths: What was my purpose? The truth is I’m still figuring it out but what I have so far is this…

…Enjoy it.

There are good things in the world as well as horrible things, things you can’t even imagine. How can we let the good things that could move us forward scare us too? A day at the beach, hanging out with friends, making an effort to be happy. We tend to always focus on the horrible shit that surround us and pay little to no attention to the things that we need to remind ourselves with: friends, family, laughter, love, nature. Yes, as I get older, the shit seems shittier, the Facebook gets angrier, and the world gets scarier. But I can only control what’s in front of me. I have to make an effort to help my world and help myself, because no one is going to do it for me. I need to have hope. And if not for me, then I should do it for the kid who didn’t get that chance…

… Happy Birthday Dale. I love you and miss you, buddy.