Happiness is Dead Trees and Vacant Houses on Route 163.

Novelty t-shirts, aluminum bottles, gaudy beaded necklaces, tank tops, tribal tattoos, puffy painted bachelorette shirts, phallic straws, cover bands and a consistent loss of money and equilibrium due to overpriced liquor sales. I found myself at Put-in-Bay this past Saturday on what was perhaps the absolute perfect definition of a phenomenal early fall afternoon. No offense to anyone who loves “The Bay”, I find it an incredible asset to Northwest Ohio and tolerable as a yearly destination; it’s just not my cup of rum. It wasn’t when I was in my early twenties and it sure isn’t in my mid thirties. Perhaps my stimulation has declined along side my social life. Drinking a craft beer in an icy mug on a porch in Countryville while listening to vinyl records is and will always be my essential escape. I’m not sure I can relate to anyone who circles Island dates on their summer calendar. However, I understand that I do not have to. I know that having identical joys in life can be just as challenging as an array. I know that I need to continue to make compromises with my free time if it is associated with anyone I’ve deemed a friend. Just as well, I am trying to find happiness in any circumstance that crosses my path and this was a start.

I “collapsed” a few times this past week and strongly debated seeing my family doctor, but I knew that a wasted hour and twenty dollars for him to look interested and determine that I’m alive and there’s not much else they can do, would hardly change what has occurred mentally and physically for my well being. I’m convinced now that if I cough, break a leg, or have diarrhea, it’s “probably depression”. I need to take my pill and live with this label that you can’t shake once you’ve been diagnosed with it. I could not count how many times I’ve wanted to run down the street and scream out in declaration that, I’m happy! Damn it, I’m happy. It’s an F-ing “Twighlight Zone” episode living in this town. What if everyone here is depressed and I’m not? What if people in little city suburbia are all content with what lies here and my heart is just being trampled on because I know that my happiness does not coincide with Put-In-Bay trips, TCC Dinners, YMCA Family Events, hangovers and/or weight lifting. Dear lord.

Stay with me- I promise that this will not entirely be depressing.

As I woke up Sunday morning (with all my clothes still on – could be a glass half full or empty interpretation. I’m just glad to have my keys, wallet, and phone) I drove back west towards Toledo until I was a little over ten minutes from home. I circled back around. It’s nearly impossible for me to go anywhere without seeing photos in my mind. I passed so much beauty and realized that I’ve taken this for granted for too long. Unlike “The Bay”, my stimulation did not have to come from someone or something telling me that this is indeed “fun“. No glamour, lights, frills or thrills; my heart told me this makes me happy and that I need to act on it. I grew up outside of a small American city. I’ve debated (especially in the Army) that Ohio, mainly Toledo was not farmland. We didn’t all grow corn and I leaned upon the fact that we lived relatively close to the rough streets of the Motor City. I grew up and I’m sincerely apologetic to you, Northwest Ohio. In my younger days, you were the cheerleader that I had nothing in common with but chose to date. Now, you’re the quiet red head in the back of the room that is beautiful, intelligent, and someone I want to be around. Forever.

Please. Please. Please. Do yourself a favor (I want to hear from you if you do), drive past Perrysburg on rt 163 all the way through Genoa and Oak Harbor until you get to Port Clinton. Roll down the windows, pack a lunch, bring some apple cider/coffee, and sing your ass off. Put in an old mix tape/cd, or borrow my play list 500 Days of Hope on Spotify. If on a fall carefree afternoon you do not find this as amazing as I, I will personally buy you your next ticket on the Jet Express. Abandoned houses, farmers markets, silos, dead trees, barns, windmills, porches, classic cars, wildlife, cornfields, dirt roads, and with no direction home. I felt happiness and wished I could have chose to live out there. I will admit that I visualized someone coming out with a shotgun every time I took a photo, but that made me appreciate it even more. There is nothing wrong with the severity of privacy and safety in and around the livelihood of your home. This is something that I crave. My people and the simplistic lifestyle that takes me far away from the world’s longest bar and straight into God’s country.

Understanding and accepting differences is still something I need to realize as a fact. I’ll never be happy all the time in life. I just need to start making a better effort. I need to turn around and circle back if that will possibly make me smile. Narrowing down what will make me happy as opposed to searching for some generic answer will help me to overcome the sadness that I am often faced with on a daily basis.

There is a young boy named Miles Quinn Root. He appeared on my Facebook newsfeed the other day and that was basically the extent. He is a local boy who opens my eyes to life’s real struggles and what being brave truly consists of.

Miles was diagnosed with a brain tumor on April 26, 2010 at the age of 5. The tumor was fully resected on April 28. We found out it was Medulloblastoma on April 30. He suffered from Posterior Fossa Syndrome with Cerebellar Mutism a few hours after his tumor removal; this means he was unable to move the right side of his body & unable to speak. He was sent to Inpatient Therapy where a week into
improvements of gaining strength & regaining the use of his right leg, Miles’ incision leaked. Miles contracted Bacterial Meningitis & while on strong Antibiotics developed an ulcer that was undiagnosed. The ulcer hemorrhaged leading to a Cardiac Arrest on May 23, 2010. The lack of blood oxygen to his brain was compromised & Miles suffered damage to the motor areas of his brain. A week later the ulcer hemorrhaged again, leading to another Cardiac Arrest & emergency surgery to save his life. Miles finally went home on June 19, 2010, unable to move & control any part of his body. After giving him time to heal, his port was placed (along with a g-tube for feeds) & the process of fighting Cancer began. He endured 30 rounds of radiation, 9 rounds of intense Chemo, a shunt placement, 2 hospitalizations due to infections & therapies. He was officially Cancer-Free in August 2010! He still has a long journey ahead of him as he relearns to control his body & do things he was once able to do with little effort. He goes to Therapies, school in multiply-impaired classroom & appointments as necessary. He trying to verbalize, but no solid words yet. He is relearning to eat & swallow, but still uses the g-tube for the bulk of his feeds. He suffers from seizures. He is starting to hold his head up, but tires easily. We are working on getting Special Needs equipment for home & raising funds for a Special Needs Tricycle!

I want to save the world. I want to save him and do everything I can to help. This has been a burden in the past because I never felt like I was ever capable of living up to my own expectations. It doesn’t matter anymore. I no longer have to save the world, but I need to reach out and offer what I am truly capable of; making others happy. Selfishly in return, this helps me to rediscover my own. That is a miracle to me and acting upon it is something that I desperately need to focus upon. So, here’s to taking small steps towards everlasting happiness and relinquishing labels that are filled with excuses and lousy justifications as to why my smiles are so few and far between. Sometimes, just making an effort is the greatest gesture of all.

Ps.

Old Pine-Ben Howard
Sticks That Made Thunder -The Steeldrivers
California Open Invitation- The Damn Quails
Itchin’ On A Photograph- Grouplove
Take ‘Em Away- OCMS
In My Time Of Need- Ryan Adams
Either Way- Beta Radio
Oh Katrina-Anders Osborne
One Big Holiday-MMJ
Myth-Beach House
Cats And Dogs-The Head and the Heart
Midnight on the Interstate-Trampled by Turtles
Good As New- Vacationer
Hey Ho- Lumineers
24-25- Kings of Convenience
Airline To Heaven- Billy Bragg
National Anthem- Lana Del Rey
You Put The Hurt On Me- The Steeldrivers
Hell or High Water- William Elliot Whitmore
Speed Of The Whippoorwill- Chatham County Line
Where Rainbows Never Die- The Steeldrivers
Old Number Seven- The Devil Makes Three
Aces and Twos- The Devil Makes Three
I Go To The Barn Because – Band of Horses
Welcome- Hey Rosetta
Bloodshot Eyes- Trampled by Turtles
Deeper Well- Wailin Jennys
Carpenter- Huckleberry Flint
Hit Em Up Style- Carolina Chocolate Drops
Big Parade- The Lumineers
Pay Attention- Wood Brothers
Let There Be Horses- Barr Brothers
Lord, I Just Can’t Keep From Crying- Barr Brothers
Oviedo- Blind Pilot

You’re Welcome. Enjoy the open roads..

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