May 27


NOTE: I originally published this a year ago today, and then republished it a year ago with a few additional thoughts.. I’m republishing both parts of the post as they originally appeared.


One of my quirks, I remember dates. They get lodged in my head, and I can’t get them out. Some useful, like birthdays (though I’m getting worse with adding those), and some not, like the anniversaries of days certain things happened. It’s a reflex, to the point where, apparently, it can be annoying.

Anyway, May 27 is one of those dates, from events that occurred in two consecutive years.

On May 27, 1992, I graduated from Huntsville High School.

Doing the math, I graduated from high school 17 years ago today, when I was about two months shy of my 17th birthday. In other words, high school is now just over half my life ago. I’ve lived more since that day than I had before. It’s just weird to think about; I certainly don’t feel twice as old as I was then. I’ll admit that my days at HHS are a distant and remote memory at this point, but I’m still young, right? From graduation until our 10-year reunion, sure, a good bit of time passed. But the reunion was hardly any time ago at all. And now the 20 is just around the corner. Where does it go?

On May 27, 1991, Beth Ladner died.

Beth was a member of my class at Huntsville, was a fellow part of the staff of the school newspaper, and ran against me for senior class vice-president. She was brilliant, pretty, and a genuine and easily likeable person, with a promising future, most likely as a marine biologist. She died in a car accident right before final exams.

And that fact has always stayed with me. This was high school, and final exams were huge — the studying, the stress, the work. If the accident had occurred a week later, she would have gone through all of that. And still been dead. The effort all in vain. We all know we’re going to die, and that it could happen at any time, but Beth’s death was such an object lesson in that. We strive, we struggle, we hurt, we laugh, we dance, we love, we cry — all for a tomorrow that one day won’t come.

Beth’s loss made us all the less. But the rest of us took final exams, and went on. And went to college. And married. And divorced. And had kids. And got jobs. And strived and struggled and hurt and laughed and danced and loved and cried. More of us have been lost along the way. But the rest continue to continue.

And hopefully the world is better for it.


May 27, 2010 coda — Since I wrote this a year ago, it has become one of the most-viewed posts on my blog. Someone even linked to it yesterday, and it was viewed a few times because of that. Because of that, I decided to republish it today in hopes of these words continuing to find homes.

It being a year later, I have to add a couple of additional thoughts since I first wrote this. First, and obviously, Beth was loved. I wrote this purely for myself, to let out what was in my heart, some of it had been with me for quite a while. I never really thought about it resonating with anyone else, and certainly never imagined people sharing it with others. But it’s been amazing to see how many people still remember her and still care. It’s an incredible tribute to who she was, and the lives she touched.

Second, perhaps less obviously but more importantly — you are loved. I can’t imagine it; if things had been reversed, if it had been the other candidate for senior class vice-president on that road that night, I can’t imagine that 18 years later anybody would be writing about me, and that so many people would still be reading that 19 years later. But, you know, I doubt Beth would have imagined that either. She’s been gone from this Earth now longer than she was on it. I doubt she would have dreamed that she’d touched so many lives, that so many people cared, so that more than her lifetime later, people would still be remembering her fondly.

The lesson of all of that? Yes, that Beth was loved. Yes, that she was special. But, also, this: Right now, there are people out there whom you have touched in a way you have no clue about. Right now, there are people out there who care about you more than you realize. Right now, there are people out there who will remember you long after you could dream they would.

Right now, you are loved, more and by more people than you know.

Always A Groom, Never A Bride


That? That’s me in my wedding dress. Radiant, no?

We had a party Monday night for Jen and Trevor, two members of the Face2Face improv troupe who got engaged earlier this year and are planning a wedding for February. We played a couple of games, one of which I won by finding my partner, Michelle Obama (aka Jason Sims), via a series of yes-or-no questions.

In the next game, each pair had to fashion a wedding dress using two pairs of toilet paper. Since Jason actually had a vision for how Despite my elaborate veil, a bouquet and a bridesmaid to hold my train, we somehow didn’t win. Even so, it was probably the most beautiful woman I’ve been in over a year and a half.

The shower was a lot of fun, and it’s always great gathering with the rest of the troupe and their families in non-show environments. It’s one of those rare occasions where it’s just the way it seems it would be — everyone is just as fun and just as funny off-stage as on. Plus, these people are some of my best friends, and I enjoy spending time with them. It was also great this time going with Heather, letting everyone meet her, and letting her have a glimpse into a different part of my life, and of me. Thankfully, it doesn’t seem to have scared her off.

But then, that really makes sense after seeing what a beautiful bride I could be.

The Mayor of Piggly Wiggly


Banner Hall in Jackson Mississippi

Not a Piggly Wiggly

I’m the mayor of a Piggly Wiggly in Jackson, Miss.

For the longest time, the trips from Oxford, Miss. to Huntsville and back, or from Indianola to Huntsville, or Houston or Eupora, were drives that had home on either end. I left home to go home. There was “where I live” home and there was “where I’m from” home.

Now, I’m back home in Huntsville. Where I live is where I’m from.

But there’s a part of me for which Mississippi will always be home.

I spent my life from the ages of 17 to 27 there. In a very real way, I grew up there. I graduated from college there. I got my first real job there. I got married there. I learned about life there. I spent a lot of my formative years in Huntsville, but Mississippi forged me, shaped me, refined me. The relatively gentle molding was done in Huntsville; the heat and beating that strengthen something or break it happened in Mississippi.

Mississippi also has a much greater corporate sense of place for me. I have a feel for Huntsville, but little feel for Alabama. Mississippi has a personality and character for me that I don’t feel in Alabama. I’m much more aware of Mississippi as one place, versus the collection of cities that Alabama is for me. Wherever I am in Misssissippi, even in the middle of nowhere that constitutes so much of the state, I have a sense of being there.

As a result, although I never lived in Jackson, going back there this past weekend had an element of going home, more than I expected before I got there. I posted a comment on Twitter about how going home (to Huntsville) had taken me so far from home (Mississippi). In a way, it makes sense; if you count all the days and nights I spent in Jackson over the years, I may very well have spent more time there than in Houston, where I did live.

This was my first time going back to Jackson in over two and a half years.

Going back, there were ghosts. There was a ghost, tenuous but fresh, from the last time I had been there, a trio of stops on the way to Louisiana for marriage counseling. Those memories were from better times, before things fell apart.

There was a ghost, older but less tenuous, from my marriage, from all the time we had spent together in Jackson, or that I had spent in Jackson while she was in hospitals. It drove home the tragedy of decisions made along the way.

But mostly there was a ghost of myself. A ghost of the younger me who lived there, who spent time there. A younger me for whom life was much simpler. I had only worked in one field since college. I had dated, and married, one woman. I wasn’t involved in a variety of organizations; my only extracurricular writing was to amuse myself. I had fewer bills. And, to be honest, the romance of that simpler life has an appeal. From time to time, I wish I could just leave everything here and go back to Mississippi.

But it was a good reminder also that simpler isn’t better. I like my life here. My life here, in general, isn’t more complicated because it has to be, but because I choose for it to be. I’ll be glad when my second book is done, but I wouldn’t trade writing it. Improv and church groups take up my time, but they make life more enjoyable, and, frankly, make me a better person. Post-divorce relationships have their challenges, but, gracious, any challenges Heather and I are dealing with are totally worth it.

It was good going over there. It was good hanging out at old haunts. It was great spending time with great friends. I can’t wait to go back. But it was also good coming home. I like what was waiting on this end of the road, too.

In the Indianola Pecan House store at Northpark Mall in Jackson, they were displaying a newspaper story that I’d written about the company 13 years ago. It was a little flattering. But that’s a ghost that I’m very content to leave in Jackson.

I used Foursquare to become the “mayor” of one of my old favorite restaurants, El Charro, and of a Piggly Wiggly. I liked the idea — “The Mayor of Piggly Wiggly” would be a good southern novel for someone to write. If you do, mention me in the acknowledgments. And Lain, since I really stole the idea from him. But those mayorships were more ghosts that I liked leaving behind.

So those ghosts can stay in Jackson. But the real me? I’m back home in Huntsville.

Happy Thanksgiving!


The First Thanksgiving, painted by Jean Leon G...

Image via Wikipedia

I had planned to write a great post for today about all the things I’m thankful for in life, all the things I’m thankful for in the past year.

But, you know what? It’s Thanksgiving. I don’t need to be spending time on the computer today writing that any more than you need to be sitting around on Thanksgiving reading it.

In fact, if you’re reading this on Thanksgiving Day, just stop, right now, and tell someone thank you. If there’s someone around you, tell them something about them or that they’ve done that you’re grateful for. Or just that you’re grateful for them. If there’s not, send an e-mail. Send a text. Make a phone call. Right now.

You done? Good. Happy Thanksgiving! Now, go enjoy it!

View My Worst-Ever Haircut and Mull It


From a Plinky prompt: Show a picture of your worst-ever haircut.

david hitt high school photo mullet

My high school senior yearbook portrait

It wasn’t intentional, I promise.

To be sure, I went through a series of bad hair styles in late high school and through college, and, to a lesser extent, thereafter. Somewhere, there are probably worse pictures of the style in this picture, but it was the worst one I had handy.

In my defense, for what little defense it provides, I didn’t realize I was rocking a mullet.

I blame Jeremy Wells. Jeremy, you see, was my high school newspaper editor my sophomore year, and he was, to my young mind, awesome. He excelled at everything I wanted to excel at and more. And while he was a good writer, his main strength as editor was his design and graphics ability, proving that you could become a school newspaper editor on the skills I had instead of the skills I didn’t.

I wanted to be Jeremy Wells.

And that imitation extended to hair. I wanted long hair like Jeremy’s. So I decided to start growing it out.

Now, I did not want a mullet. To be honest, at that point, I didn’t even know what a mullet was. In fact, it wasn’t until probably a decade after high school that I really realized that I’d had one.

What did I want? Awesome long hair. Like hippie or rock star hair, but clean cut and respectable. That’s totally better than a mullet. Look, I was in high school, whadda you want? Shut up.

What I got was a mullet. That I kept for way too long.

And the irony was this. I was telling this story to someone recently, how I didn’t know I had a mullet and that’s not what I was aiming for, I just wanted awesome long hair like Jeremy’s. I pulled out the yearbook to show his picture to explain what I’d actually wanted.

And in that picture, looking at it again for the first time in almost 20 years, it turns out Jeremy Wells was totally rocking a mullet.

Sigh.

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My Vacation Photos


I may yet write some more about the time that I was in Florida, but, in the meantime, I wanted to go ahead and post some pictures, because I know everyone is dying to see my pictures. The VeggieTale picture isn’t technically from the trip, but I needed to be able to include it somewhere, right?

 

Various and Sundry, Part Something


Things going on in my life lately that aren’t worth entire posts:

— I have a few buy-one-get-one-free tickets to Saturday’s Face2Face Improv show for people that have not been to see us before, and would like to. That said, I won’t be in the show, which might actually be a plus in some people’s book. I will be in a show Friday at Kenny Mango’s Coffee Shop in Madison. I will not be in tomorrow night’s show at Sam & Greg’s, but should be back next Tuesday.

— After writing that post a few weeks back about Apple’s recent successes, etc., I decided that I should be an Apple stockholder again, so now I am. And, yes, I’ve already lost money. Wheee!

— I forget if I blogged about the contest that was being held as a collaboration between NASA and craft site Etsy to create space-themed art projects, but the finalists have been posted in the three categories, and include an awesome space-Western shirt designed by my friend Melissa Meek, so you should go vote for her.

— The book I co-wrote with astronauts Owen Garriott and Joe Kerwin,  Homesteading Space: The Skylab Story,has been selected for a paperback edition. It won’t be available for another year, however, so don’t let that stop you from buying the slightly-more-expensive-but-better-quality hardcover edition in the meantime. But, hey, I’ll be a paperback writer, paperback writer.

— I wrote a post earlier this year about wanting to participate in The Jonah Project, in which people with differing viewpoints read The Unlikely Disciple and then discuss it. Well, I found my nemesis, applied for the project, got selected, and, finally, after a very lengthy delay, received the books, and finished reading it. I’m participating in the project with my good friend Joe Gurner, and the resulting discussions have been very interesting. Joe and I had a general idea where the other stood on a lot of issues (to wit, as far from the other as possible), but I think this may be the first time we’ve actually really discussed a lot of those things, and it’s been fascinating. I’m blessed (can I say that? lucky?) to have a friend with whom I can have such an enjoyable conversation about such loaded topics.

— After our unsuccessful attempt to watch the space shuttle launch, I took Heather’s sons out this weekend to launch model rockets, as an attempt to capture some of the excitement the scrub didn’t inspire. Needless to say, I was utterly unable to put anything in the air. Sigh. Rather embarrassing to be such a poor space pitchman to a sympathetic audience. They were really good sports about it, however, and we’ll probably try again soon.

— ADDENDUM: Welcome to the world, Baxter Hughes. Hope you enjoy it! You’ve got a good tour guide to start you out, kid.