Tag Archives: nostalgia

Throwback Thursday! Golfing with Ghosts

(Aug 1, 2015) “It is a talent of the soul to discover the joy in pain—-thinking of moments you long for, and knowing you’ll never have them again. The beautiful ghosts of our past haunt us, and yet we still can’t decide if the pain they caused us outweighs the tender moments when they touched our soul.” ~Shannon L. Alder

golfstinks.com

golfstinks.com

I’m golfing with ghosts, or for ghosts or both this weekend. What I am doing is returning to my hometown to spend the weekend with two of my childhood friends. We’ve known each other since we were in diapers and will still know each other when we’re in diapers again. I think that’s a pretty amazing thing. If you’ve read either of my novels, two of the Golden Boys characters in them are based on these guys. In addition to my two life long friends, I will also be seeing many friends from high school at our hometown bar and at a memorial golf tournament the following day. It will be a weekend filled with the ghosts of my past.

It is a bittersweet occasion however. We are golfing in a tournament to raise money for a scholarship fund in the name of one of our high school classmates, Sara,  who passed away far too young a two years ago.  I hope that wherever she is, she can see the goings on this weekend. I hope that she is a ghost walking among us at the bar and the golf course and, like George Bailey, seeing and hearing the lasting impact she made on those around her. I also hope she can help with my golf swing like Patrick Swayze helped Demi Moore with her pottery, because I really have not been practicing. The phrase “danger to self and others” comes to mind.

Why is ghost Patrick Swayze not wearing a shirt?

Why is ghost Patrick Swayze not wearing a shirt?

If George Bailey had Clarence as his own personal angel, Sara has had Michelle, Debbie, Theresa, Cindy, Sandy, and Sally as her escorting angels for the last three years as they have kept her memory alive in the form of the scholarship that bears her name.

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I’m not sure why, but I’m sentimental. I love to visit my past and remember. That’s what I mean when I say I’m visiting ghosts this weekend. Not only the very literal ghost of a classmate, but the ghosts of my past.  It’s almost as if I can see and hear the echoes of our younger selves. When I look at someone I knew years ago I see their younger self imposed upon the middle-aged adult I’m looking at. I instantly recall conversations and hijinks from years ago.  (Yes, I’m so old that I used the word hijinks) It’s like my memory has bookmarks and I’m just turning back to a dog-eared page.

A lot of people, therapists included, will say that you shouldn’t live in the past. I agree, we shouldn’t live there, but I don’t think it’s a bad place to visit occasionally. Sometimes the past was pretty damned good and it can remind us of parts of us, good parts, that we may have forgotten amidst the mortgages, stress, and careers that have slowly, inexorably filled our present. I’m hoping however that this weekend I’ll be haunted by ghosts and, if I’m lucky, I’ll get to dog-ear a few more pages that I can re-visit in the future.

Have a great weekend! I know I will. ~Phil

Throwback Thursday! Is It Too Soon for 90’s Nostalgia?

Apparently 90’s nostalgia is a thing for kids born in the 90’s. The 1990’s that is, although I can imagine that the folks born in the 1890’s are feeling pretty nostalgic right now, mostly about having a pulse.

My 18 year old son and his friends are all nostalgic about the TV shows they watched as kids 15 years ago. It seems like some sort of weird disease or Benjamin Buttons affliction. When you’re 18 you shouldn’t look back at anything and think, “Those were the good ol’ days.” These idiots don’t even remember the world without the internet and they’re feeling nostalgic about Tommy Pickles and CatDog?

Back in the 90’s,  when there was no internet, I used to go around to bars in person and stand on a stage and say stupid stuff like this out loud. And I had to walk there in the snow and it was uphill both ways! There. That’s real nostalgia. For my son, remembering life before Netflix is nostalgia. Yup, I’ve already said to him, “I remember when Netflix was just getting DVD’s in the mail every week.” Those were hard times back then. Things are better now.

All-That-e1347915316959

When I was 20 I wasn’t looking back thinking how great things were in my childhood. I was out living life and worrying about things later. Being nostalgic was something old people did. I’ve heard actual adults have nostalgia for the good old days when we’d watch Ross, Rachel, Chandler, Joey, Phoebe and Monica every Thursday night. Remember? Back in the day when we had to watch TV shows when they were actually broadcast by the networks, unless of course you set your VCR. Yup, those were the good ol’ days!

friends_400x400

Nostalgia is fun though, isn’t it? I don’t think things were better in the past, but it’s still fun to look back. When I’m nostalgic for my younger days I remember all the great movies and music from the 80’s. When you’re feeling nostalgic, what do you look back on that makes you smile?

Have a great Thursday! ~Phil

Throwback Thursday! The Rolling Stones Are Liars: My Class Reunion

(07/27/13)  Of course this doesn’t apply to me and all my classmates who are attending our reunion this weekend.  The high school reunion. That American institution where we renew friendships, reminisce, and catch up. We remember who we were and we talk about who we’ve become. Last night I had a very nice time talking with many, many old friends.

Back to my title. The Rolling Stones are big fat liars. Mick, Keith, Ron and Charlie. Every one a liar. Pants on fire. The whole nine yards. What did they lie about? They lied about time. Time is SO not on our side. Judging from how haggard The Rolling Stones look, time isn’t on their side either. Especially Keith.

I know where you think I’m going with this, but you’re wrong. Yeah, sorry about that. I’m not going to bemoan how the years have changed my classmates and I. If anything, I was pleasantly surprised by how good everyone looked. My old friends are happy and healthy and doing well. At least the ones that attended our reunion.

reunion

In addition to attending reunion activities I also went back to the neighborhood of my childhood. I’ve only been there a few times in the last twenty years. Everywhere I looked there were ghosts. If I looked at a street corner I could see the younger versions of my friends and I goofing around and I could hear the echoes of thirty year old conversations about inane topics. Walking by house after house, memories of incidents and adventures came to life in my minds eye as if not a day had passed.

The most startling revelation however is that apparently since I grew up I’ve become a giant. The parents of my childhood friends are smaller and shorter than I remember them. As my friend and I walked the streets it was amazing how much the houses had shrunk and now look old and run down a bit.  The walk around the block which seemed so long  as kids is now barely long enough to be considered much of a walk at all.

Street Sign

I know that all these things are illusions. People age and the neighborhood that was a whole world to us as kids suddenly appears small and old when I return to it from the larger world I’ve explored since I left home. Damn it Mick Jagger, you promised that time was on my side. I blinked and suddenly that naive, wide eyed boy from a small town turned into an adult with a mortgage and acid reflux. I guess more appropriately, this weekend illustrated to me the truth in the title of that Thomas Wolfe novel; You Can’t Go Home Again. I tried and although my home and neighborhood are not what they once were, I’ve enjoyed meeting high school friends again who all seem to be better versions of the kids I knew. Here’s to old friends.

3Reunion

As always, if you like what you read at #ThePhilFactor please hit the Facebook share button, especially my high school friends that might be reading this. It was great to see you all again. And thank you to Cindy for all the pictures you’ve posted to Facebook. I’m sorry I couldn’t include pictures of everyone that was there. Have a great Thursday! ~Phil

My Advice To My Past Self

Earlier this week I saw a post from SickChristine that was inspired by a Soul Pancake  Facebook post.

Christine wrote a beautiful and touching story of the advice she would give her past self at different ages. Beautiful and touching? Yeah, that’s not exactly my style. Younger me was a moron and he definitely needed my advice. So, here’s what I would tell myself if I could travel back in time to help younger me:

Dear 1970’s PhilDude, relax. You’re a kid. Don’t stress about anything. Especially not the air raid drills they make you do in grade school. The Russians are definitely not going to bomb you.  At least not until Trump is President. Just be careful around water fountains. Not the big kind that you see in a park, but the little ones you drink out of in the hallway at school. There’s one that will change your life forever. That one fountain is the Joker to your Batman.  Also, enjoy and remember your adventures with The Golden Boys. You’ll want to write about them in the future.

Dear 1980’s Phil: To borrow from Baz Luhrman, wear sunscreen. You get sunburned from the refrigerator light! Wear sunscreen. I want to have skin like a baby’s bottom when I/Me/You are older. Also go ahead and grow the mullet, but cut it off in 1988. You kept it a year too long. Also, enjoy and remember your adventures with The Golden Boys. You’ll want to write about them in the future.

Dear 1990’s Phil: Apple. Not the fruit. Well, yes, the fruit. Eat them, they’re better than all that fast food you eat.  But remember Apple the company. Save all your money and invest in a company named Apple in 1999. If you do this you can retire from work in 2015. Don’t mind the hyperlinked blue text there. You can’t read that yet. Also, enjoy and remember your adventures with The Golden Boys. You’ll want to write about them in the future. And yes, you get the most important decision of your life right.

Dear 2000’s PhilYou’ll be raising your kids now. I’ve got no advice for you. Nothing can prepare you for parenting. Just relax and enjoy. You can’t control everything. In fact I should have told you that about two decades ago. Also embrace fantasy football. Not only will you be really good at it, but if you play your cards right, you can make a living at it. Enjoy and remember your adventures with The Golden Boys. Yes, they’ll still be with you. Maybe write a few books about them.  And don’t stress about the number of views your blog gets. The right people will get the jokes. No, seriously, I was not kidding about the fantasy football.

All in all, don’t worry about much I said here. Life’s never going to be perfect. Live your life and enjoy it without too much worry. And lastly, wear sunscreen.

Have a great Saturday everybody! ~Phil

Is It Too Soon For 90’s Nostalgia?

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Apparently 90’s nostalgia is a thing for kids born in the 90’s. The 1990’s that is, although I can imagine that the folks born in the 1890’s are feeling pretty nostalgic right now, mostly about having a pulse.

My 18 year old son and his friends are all nostalgic about the TV shows they watched as kids 10-15 years ago. It seems like some sort of weird disease or Benjamin Buttons affliction. When you’re 18 you shouldn’t look back at anything and think, “Those were the good ol’ days.” These idiots don’t even remember the world without the internet and they’re feeling nostalgic about Tommy Pickles and CatDog. Back in the 90’s,  when there was no internet, I used to go around to bars in person and stand on a stage and say stupid stuff like this out loud. And I had to walk there in the snow and it was uphill both ways! There. That’s real nostalgia. For my son, remembering life before Netflix is nostalgia. Yup, I’ve already said to him, “I remember when Netflix was just getting DVD’s in the mail every week.” Those were hard times back then. Things are better now.

All-That-e1347915316959

When I was 20 I wasn’t looking back thinking how great things were in my childhood. I was out living life and worrying about things later. Being nostalgic was something old people did. I’ve heard actual adults have nostalgia for the good old days when we’d watch Ross, Rachel, Chandler, Joey, Phoebe and Monica every Thursday night. Remember? Back in the day when we had to watch TV shows when they were actually broadcast by the networks, unless of course you set your VCR. Yup, those were the good ol’ days!

friends_400x400

Nostalgia is fun though, isn’t it? I don’t think things were better in the past, but it’s still fun to look back. When I’m nostalgic for my younger days I remember all the great movies and music from the 80’s. When you’re feeling nostalgic, what do you look back on that makes you smile?

Have a great weekend! ~Phil

Cemetery of the Heart

picturesofengland.com

picturesofengland.com

We all have a Cemetery of the Heart that we visit from time to time. It is a place that is unique and belongs to each of us alone. Sometimes we visit when it’s sunny and the birds are singing and at these times we are unaffected by the memories each marker represents, thankful that we are in a better place.

Other times we visit our Cemetery of the Heart when the weather is cloudy, cold, and stormy, perhaps mourning the loss of those happy memories that warmed our hearts in days gone by.We may walk down an aisle, a small, grassy path flanked on either side by those tiny markers that barely acknowledge a person’s passing, viewing the tombstones with varying levels of interest and angst. Some of the smaller stones, barely a marker really, may represent missed opportunities, brief connections with people which never came to fruition or doors we did not open when opportunity knocked. Most are relationships that perished in their infancy. We recognize the names on some of these stones and others we do not. Some are lovers, some are friends and some are strangers we may have met in passing.

In the next row over are tombstones of those loves which may have been ill-fated, but which still resonate poignantly in our memories. The path through this row of grave markers is slightly uphill, but we can still easily make the trek. The stones are tall and strong with the names and dates etched in them as they are forever etched in our hearts. Each one a small nick, or scratch, or crack in the surface of our hearts, which may have changed it ever so slightly, but which also gives our heart some of the strength and character which has brought us this far.

As we turn the corner of the gravel path there are only a few graves left to view. Up the long, steep hill at the far back of our Cemetery of the Heart are the monuments and mausoleums. It is inevitable. Once we enter our Cemetery of the Heart we are compelled to walk the entire path, even when it becomes steep and difficult. There is no way to go back and erase what we’ve carved on each tombstone. The monuments and mausoleums may be far fewer in number, but their size and importance dominates our view of the cemetery.

In some places we have erected enormous monuments to lost loves. Some of them stand so tall and broad that they block the sun, dooming the small flowers we have tried to plant since the monument was built. Some of us are so tired from pushing the heavy stones into place that we haven’t even tried to plant new flowers yet. We hope that in time some hardy plants will grow here naturally in the shade of these memories and with enough time perhaps they will grow tall enough to reach the sunlight with branches where birds will nest and sing again.

Next to our monuments we notice a mausoleum. Some of the crypts are labeled and we fondly pay homage to those who still hold a special place in our hearts, those we still wish to check in on from time to time to see that they are well. Finally, if we choose to look closely enough, we can see that the daylight from outside our mausoleum has crept through the doorway to reveal a few empty drawers at the back. At this realization we smile and leave the cemetery in peace, knowing that the storm will eventually pass.

This is an idea for a future novel. Hoped you don’t mind the detour from my usual style of writing. I promise to return to my usual level of idiocy next week. As always, if you enjoy anything I write on #ThePhilFactor I’d love it if you shared by hitting the Facebook, Twitter, or re-blog button below. Have a great weekend! ~Phil

Throwback Thursdays! The Rolling Stones are Liars: My Class Reunion

Originally published 7/27/2013

Reunion

Of course this doesn’t apply to me and all my classmates who are attending our reunion this weekend.  The high school reunion. That American institution where we renew friendships, reminisce, and catch up. We remember who we were and we talk about who we’ve become. Last night I had a very nice time talking with many, many old friends.

Back to my title. The Rolling Stones are big fat liars. Mick, Keith, Ron and Charlie. Every one a liar. Pants on fire. The whole nine yards. What did they lie about? They lied about time. Time is SO not on our side. Judging from how haggard The Rolling Stones look, time isn’t on their side either. Especially Keith.

I know where you think I’m going with this, but you’re wrong. Yeah, sorry about that. I’m not going to bemoan how the years have changed my classmates and I. If anything, I was pleasantly surprised by how good everyone looked. My old friends are happy and healthy and doing well. At least the ones that attended our reunion.

reunion

In addition to attending reunion activities I also went back to the neighborhood of my childhood. I’ve only been there a few times in the last twenty years. Everywhere I looked there were ghosts. If I looked at a street corner I could see the younger versions of my friends and I goofing around and I could hear the echoes of thirty year old conversations about inane topics. Walking by house after house, memories of incidents and adventures came to life in my minds eye as if not a day had passed.

The most startling revelation however is that apparently since I grew up I’ve become a giant. The parents of my childhood friends are smaller and shorter than I remember them. As my friend and I walked the streets it was amazing how much the houses had shrunk and now look old and run down a bit.  The walk around the block which seemed so long  as kids is now barely long enough to be considered much of a walk at all.

Street Sign

I know that all these things are illusions. People age and the neighborhood that was a whole world to us as kids suddenly appears small and old when I return to it from the larger world I’ve explored since I left home. Damn it Mick Jagger, you promised that time was on my side. I blinked and suddenly that naive, wide eyed boy from a small town turned into an adult with a mortgage and acid reflux. I guess more appropriately, this weekend illustrated to me the truth in the title of that Thomas Wolfe novel; You Can’t Go Home Again. I tried and although my home and neighborhood are not what they once were, I’ve enjoyed meeting high school friends again who all seem to be better versions of the kids I knew. Here’s to old friends.

3Reunion

As always, if you like what you read at #ThePhilFactor please hit the Facebook share button, especially my high school friends that might be reading this. It was great to see you all again. And thank you to Cindy for all the pictures you’ve posted to Facebook. I’m sorry I couldn’t include pictures of everyone that was there.

Have a great Thursday everyone! ~Phil