Saturday, August 2, 2014

Things That Define Us

We are more than our toys. Maybe. We are more than the things we have. But some of those things can help define us. We all have stuff that becomes a part of who we are; things that people associate with us; things that we come to be known for.

So I was thinking over the last week or so about the things that define me. Here's a short list.

2002 Ford F-150. I bought the above truck in 2003. It had 11,000 miles on it. 11 years later and it has 154,000. When I bought it I said I wanted to drive it for 9 to 12 years. It has been my everyday driving vehicle for 10 years, until this winter when I picked up a commuting car to burn the DC miles and give the truck a rest. It's the only vehicle our girls have ever known me to drive. It has helped us move; carried mulch, paddleboards, furniture, been to Pennsylvania, commuted to DC for four years. When loaned to friends it has carried everything from bunk beds to deer carcasses. Of all the vehicles I have owned, it is the one the best defines me: simple, blue, steady, basic, versatile. At least the truck is.

Running shoes. Not any specific kind of running shoes; I have run in Brooks, New Balance, Mizuno, Nike, Asics, Montrail, Inov-8; I have run in road shoes and trail shoes. But the common theme is running. If you read this blog or have known me since high school, when cross country first hit, or getting in shape after failing out of school, or training for the Annapolis 10-miler, or training for my first marathon or ultramarathon, you know that running is one of the activities that defines me. I feel right when I put on running shoes.

Moleskine pocket notebook. Close friends know that I always have a notebook and pen in my pocket. If we are at a bar, on a boat, at a party, if I am at the grocery store, work, or a coffee shop. Because I forget things if I don't write them down. Because I never know when a line will strike me, or something I see, or something someone says will trigger something I want to think more about later. These notebooks are filled with lists, with thoughts, with random lines, with quotes, with doodles from the girls if they get bored and ask for my notebook. It has to fit in my back pocket. I tried the hardbound versions, but the covers got destroyed because they don't like to be sat on. So this is the notebook of choice. Thankfully, even Target has them now.

Skateboard. If three activities define my life, both from the longview and different periods within it, they would be writing, running and skateboarding. I bought my first skateboard, a Sims Flagship with Venture Trucks, from the Sunshine House in Ocean City, Md. I was 13. More than anything over the next five years, skateboarding was what I did, helped shape the music I listened to, the videos I watched, the clothes and shoes I wore, what we did with acquired extra wood, where we went, how I thought. When I turned 35, I bought a skateboard after having taken some time off. I set up things to ollie over in the street and our older daughter got a kick out of it. And then a friend got bitten by the longboarding bug, infected me, and endurance, distance, and skateboarding got thrown in the gumbo of further life-defining activities. I still feel as stoked today to feel wheels on pavement as I did almost 30 years ago.

Nationals Jayson Werth jersey. Over the years, baseball has eclipsed football by far as the chosen sport for our house, and our girls. We've discussed the Nationals on here before. We've discussed Jayson Werth and his beard on here before. The Werth jersey was a birthday present to myself a couple/few years ago and has been worn to almost every Nats game we have been to, as well as Camden Yards and Citizens Bank Park in Philly. Being in the stands when he launches a WERTHQUAKE into the bleachers is fun. His Game 4 walk-off series saving home run has to be one of the best radio calls in the Nationals brief history. Our daughter Ava has a Werth shirt as well. To me, it's the symbol of a family loving a team, and baseball, together.

So there is a quick top five of things that in some way define me, now and over the years. What things define you?

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