Monday, March 19, 2012

The time has come to leave ELEVEN

This is going to be a long post, but it will also be my last, so you'll have plenty of time to come back and pick up reading where you left off.

This past week was filled with gatherings and visits all centered around my upcoming Appalachian Trail thru-hike. Tuesday night I had a nice, intimate dinner with my boss and two tellers where we laughed all night. Wednesday I went to my last Beer School which happened to be an Irish theme... my favorite beers. Thursday found me loading my extensive cellar of tobacco and pipes into my VW and then driving with my Lady to our friends' Mike & Ginny's house. We went to dinner, got mounds of Handel's ice cream, drank beer, and then spent time going through the mechanics of how Mike would mail me pipes and tobacco on the trail. Friday was another work party for those friends from surrounding banks and the rest of my tellers to ask questions and say goodbye.

My Lady and I came back to the Log House after Friday's party, and to my dismay I spent the night in the bathroom doing, "The Catholic." It seemed like I'd contracted either a bad case of food poisoning or a violent case of stomach flu. Whatever it was, it destroyed me. I muscled through work on Saturday with a pale face and forced smile until I could come home and crash on the couch, comforted by my caring Lady. As I lay there allowing her to run her fingers through my curly hair, fears of all sorts flooded my mind. Was this the same flu that floored me for a month in December and January? Were the muscles I pulled throwing up last night going to hamper carrying a backpack? If either of those came to fruition, what did it mean for my meticulously-planned schedule?

With those questions swirling in my head as fast as my stomach had been swirling the night before, I took a shower and we headed to one more party; the going-away party being thrown by some dear friends and the one gathering I was looking forward to the most. How was I going to handle this party feeling as bad as I still felt?

My Lady and I hit the party as the first guests. As other guests filed in and the attempt at acquiring a beer from every state along the trail started to take form, I poured myself a cup of water and mingled as best I could with a queasy stomach. A cake appeared in the shape of the Appalachian Trail made with Guinness beer, a crock pot was opened with pulled pork, and Irish Soda bread was sliced. And then it happened... the crowd was all pulled into the dining room of the host house and my friend Jon pulled out his guitar. What followed filled me with more love and appreciation for my network of friends than I'd ever had.

The following is an Irish drinking song Jon wrote with the help of my friends Steve, Vicki, Grant, and Jess.

Verse 1
Gather round ye lads and lassies, put your feet to rest
Here's a tale about a man who's goin on a quest
His bag is packed with all he needs, his pipe, a loaf of bread
The only beer he'll have for months are memories in his head

He's goin adventurin', who knows where and when?
He joins the list of other friends who soon we'll meet again
So lets all raise our glasses high to friends and family gone
And lift our voices in another Irish drinking song

Now everybody's here
So until we're out of beer
We'll drink and drink and drink and drink
And then we'll drink some more

We'll drink and dance and sing
Until the break of day
Then we'll pass out, wake up, and then go send him on his way

Verse 2
His beard is long his stature strong, a banker by is trade
He's got a girl to care for him, a girl 'bout half his age
He loves to talk and talk and talk, the history of canals
He loves to write and blog and drink a beer with his pals

He's goin now adventurin', who knows where and when?
He joins the list of other friends who soon we'll meet again
So lets all raise our glasses high to friends and family gone
And lift our voices in another Irish drinking song

Verse 3
His home was made of logs and pegs and fit to a tee
Much like a West Virginia man - it's who he'd like to be
He calls himself a Pearl Jam fan and we know why, you see...
A wee bit of a man crush on a man called Eddie V

He's goin now adventurin', who knows where and when?
He joins the list of other friends who soon we'll meet again
So lets all raise our glasses high to friends and family gone
and lift our voices in another Irish drinking song

The chorus found the whole room singing along (at least what they could remember which was mostly, "drink and drink and drink some more" LOL!!!) but more importantly, found me looking around at all of these people gathered together for one reason: love for me. Waves of emotion crashed into me as I soaked in the intense feelings I had for where my life was and who was in it. A big thank you to those who threw the party and all who attended.

Sunday I packed up a few boxes and had a heart-to-heart with my Lady about what it means to become homeless. She presented an interesting concept that all people should --even if only in an attempt to de-clutter-- purge their households as if they were about to be homeless. (Like I am.) All of my appliances have been given away, all my furniture save a dresser the same. I've pared my clothes down to a few drawers and thrown away more junk than I can remember. My four drawer filing cabinet has been shortened to a single box, my bookshelves the same. In fact, all of my belongings could fit in the back of small pickup truck. While a little scary thinking about where I'll be in six months, it's one of the most liberating times in my life.

And so I sit here tonight in an almost empty house, about to embark on an admittedly scary adventure, three days away from prematurely ending a good career, and I couldn't be happier. Life is good; that's all I can say. A lot of that has to do with the fact that I have a woman that loves me more than anything else in the world. That despite the fact that I'm leaving her for six months. She is my rock, my confidence, and my core support system in a sea of loving people. Thank you for all of that, my beautiful Lady.

And for all three of you who are afraid of having Sam withdrawals, don't forget to check out my trail journal on the Uncle Sam link at the top of my blogroll. It will be updated all along my journey by my dear friend, Andrew. So follow me if you care to, and thanks for all the good years we've had on ELEVEN. Goodbye, all.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

New Trail Journals update

Click HERE to read it or type into your browser .

You can also click here --------------------------------->
on the Uncle Sam link to view the whole site.