50 Years a Memory: Where did the time go?

As my friend and Friday golf partner always says, Father time is undefeated. It’s a phrase bandied about in sports more than anything. Athletes get old, skills diminish, the wear and tear becomes more visible. They become a shell of what they once were. As I approach 50 years old it becomes more painfully obvious sports has no monopoly on this condition.

But take heart, this is no woe is me I’m an old man screed. My golf game is better now than it was 10 years ago. Nope, this is just a miss-mash of revelations that occurred to me on the drive back to Knoxville TN, my current home, from the Jersey Shore and the home where I grew up. And as is the custom, if it occurs to me I tell it to you.

The place we called home.

So here’s to the tellin. 50 Years a Memory: Where did the time go?

July 4th weekend was a big deal. Aside from our nation’s deceleration some 241 years ago, it was on this date July 4th 1967, construction was complete and my family moved into the only house I ever knew. One month and 16 days later I was born. Three years and three months later my little sister and the last of the eight Linardo children of Frank and Marie was born. Yep, eight of us in there. Plus parents, plus my dad’s mother eventually. That’s 11 people, 3 adults and 8 kids, if you’re scoring at home.

11 is just right.

And until someone buys it, only one family has ever lived there. Us. Here we all are in 1973(?). With a photo bomb by our house.

I’m the tiny dude up front wearing horizontal stripes way before they were in style. It appears I’m also wearing my trusty one rig holster complete with an ivory handled six shooter. Well, it’s Jersey after all.

Now the distinguished lady in the back right is my mom’s mom; Granma McEntee. She was just visiting from Phila. Lots of history and memories standing there. Some faces are gone but most are still here.

The house, well the house remains. But as hard as it is to contemplate, it’s on the market. At some point in this year I would imagine, another family other than us will live there. Weird really. That’s just not the standard anymore. So it’s weird to think about us being the only people to ever live in that house.

You might be able to tell from the first picture the house is losing to father time. No different than anyone or anything else really. We all feel the effects sooner or later. For 50 years old and the wear and tear it’s still in great shape. Yeah it’s got some age marks, but those are some righteous age marks. The phrase if walls could talk would be appropriate here. But I bet the can could say much more. The can? That’s South Jersey speak for the bathroom.

Behold…

Oh jonny, the stories you might tell.

You, my friends, are looking at the one and only bathroom in that house. I took that picture when I was home this past June. Almost 50 years after it was built. Numbers are important. Eleven people, three adults, eight kids, all using/sharing that. Did I mention five of those eights kids were girls. I’m not sayin, I’m just sayin. That’s a sturdy room.

Now lest some of my kin jump needlessly, there is a half bath downstairs. Referred to then as a powder-room. But that amounts to a toilet and sink in what could generously be described as a water closet. That joint could tell some stories too. But not like the main hub of the house.

No the main bathroom is where it all started every morning. From my dad rolling out to work at 5am, to my sisters hogging the shower, to my brother yelling The bus is at the corner! when it really wasn’t, just to see the mayhem and maybe clear a space for his own assault on the can.

I remember coming out of the shower only to see my glasses lenses covered with shaving cream and all manner of insults, also in my dad’s shaving cream, scrolled across the double mirror. I can remember my brothers yelling through the door from the hallway and my sisters, some of them anyway, yelling right back from the high ground; inside the bathroom.

From there the action always moved to the stairs. Either my brothers running down and out the front door trying to escape the wrath of my older sisters, usually with an old hunk of hot-wheels track in hand, or me and my little sister using our blankets wrapped around the rail to ride to the bottom.

Climbed these thousands of times.

Look at those stairs. You can almost see the history in the treads beneath the carpet. When I was a kid the rail was black wrought iron. Same rail, now white. It’s a testament to the manufacturing how well that damn thing held up. Yeah man the house is 50 years old, but they truly don’t make em like that anymore. Our house was put to the test daily for almost half a century and it’s still solid.

Now it’s empty. Sort of. Fifty years is a lot of memories but it’s a lot of stuff too. That stuff has to be dealt with. I’m a bit conflicted of being 660 miles away at this moment in history. I would love to be there going through all the stuff and reliving things. But then again I’m pretty lazy and that seems like a crap ton of work. My little sister, the warden as we call her, is on the job. The whole gang except me really has been going at it for some time now trying to get it ready to sell. Like expert archeologists they tackle one layer at a time.

The pics my sister sends me are great. Talk about memories. The tractor in the pic below is older than me I think. A little worse for wear, I believe this was unearthed from the downstairs attic. Yes kids, in those days houses of that type were built with an upstairs and downstairs attic. It’s amazing to see the pics sides by side. At least to me it is anyway.

Old faithful. Could still get er done!

Me in what had to be 1970, 71 at the latest.

Appropriately my trusty old tractor is sitting next to an Amazon Prime box.When Frank saw this picture he thought it was of him. Father time is indeed undefeated.

No Frank that’s not you. You are looking at your old man, way back when, younger than you are now, sitting on a tractor thing that still works, in front of a house that’s as sturdy as ever.

When the new people move in, and the carpets pulled, and the walls painted, and the memories erased, the dust will fly. There is a history in that dust. Those floors bear our existence. Those walls hold our jelly stained fingerprints. The stairs contain the drum beat of eight kids growing up.

In that dust, in the commotion of remaking old into new, lies the story of us.

 

 

 

Back to work: The Grind

Not in the Grind.

I imagine this will be a fairly obvious statement, but being a stay at home dad spoiled me. Yes it was hard and yes it’s still work, just unpaid work and… blah blah blah. I get it. I’m not saying being a stay at home is any less demanding than going to a paid job might be. Trust me I did it for six years. No matter what I did in the military, no matter what I do now working in national security, none of that was or will ever be as important as what I did for the six years I was home with Frank and then Anne Marie.

Still, I never felt it for those six years. There wasn’t this pang hanging in the air. You know the feeling. It’s just faint white noise on Saturday morning. It becomes a bit of a buzz by nightfall. No not that kind of buzz. The kind that of buzz distracting you from enjoying Saturday because you know what’s coming. By Sunday it’s loud and unmistakable. You, my friend, are in The Grind.

Honestly I didn’t know what it was. But I knew it was there. As soon as I went back to work I could feel it. Maybe not right away, as the adrenaline of all the new things carried me through the grind unnoticed. But as soon as I got into a groove at work, as soon as I began to feel comfortable there, I could sense it. It was just this lurking feeling, again like a very light white noise playing in the background. It was annoying but not debilitating. It was this feeling. A feeling like I was running after something but could never catch up.

Then I mentioned it to my friend and neighbor JB. He tagged it immediately. You’re in the grind bro! For a dude 20 years younger than me he is wise beyond his years. The Grind. Yep. By Sunday morning it was this dread and angst all at the same time. Trying to get stuff done at the same time trying to enjoy the final moments of the weekend. The Grind.

Definitely in the Grind.

The funniest part, I love my job. I love the people I get to work with. Top it off with the mission. The mission is as close to what I did in uniform as I could ever get on the outside. I’m not sure I could have described what I thought the perfect follow on job for me would be once I retired from the military. This place is it for me. That’s what makes the grind so dastardly.

I don’t worry or fret going back to work on Monday’s, but I can tell you I’m grinding on Sunday. Hell I went to work this past Monday, July 3rd even though most of the place would be off and I would be off Tuesday July 4th. I like it there. I feel at home in my office and my building. I know JB loves what he does. I know he enjoys his work as much as I do mine. But still, the grind is there. It’s tangible. You can feel it. And then it’s gone.

When the alarm blows on Monday morning the grind is gone. It’s time to make the doughnuts and no time to be worried about the weekend cause it’s over. You would think the converse would be true as well. You would think there would be an equal and opposite reaction, an anxiousness waiting for the weekend to begin. Nope. The grind doesn’t work that way bro.

Now I can’t speak for JB here. All I know is I don’t sit around on Thursday watching the sweep hand and waiting on the plant whistle to blow. I work a 4/10 schedule with Fridays off. So Thursday is my Friday. Yeah I know, don’t hate me. The weeks disappear for me. When I hit the ground on Monday I’m going hard, jobbin, choppin wood, whatever. When I look up, it’s Thursday. The weeks happen that fast for me. Still come Friday night, after all the golf has been played, all the naps taken, the grind starts to approach.

The Grind

It’s a little like that green fog in the movie The Ten Commandments. You know, when Yule Brenner as Ramses II condemns all new born Hebrews to death but Moses beat him to the punch on what was to become the first Passover. That green fog held low to the ground. It was the representation of the angel of death and instead of Hebrews, every first born Egyptian literally eats the dust when it envelops them. The grind is just like that, minus the Hebrews and Egyptians and the death thing. But that fog man, that fog creepin along the ground… You’re in the grind bro!

Now I know all you junior psych majors are saying the same thing. Dude, it’s the job. You’re dreading going to the J.O.B. What’s the saying, All Knowledge, No Mileage. Try to explain the grind to a kid with all school and no work and that’s the answer you get. Not their fault. They will feel the grind one day in the near future and the light will go on for them as it did me.

Look I can’t explain it. All I can say is the work is good but the grind is real.