Of all the years I've lived through, this has by far been the most hard to categorize. I've made new friends, yet those closest to me were no longer near. There have been many moments of uncontrollable laughter, yet many nights I lay in bed paralyzed with grief. I guess I could be bipolar. Or it could be that I've discovered the "abundant life" Jesus promised isn't one in which we are always on cloud nine, but rather one in which we experience myriad of emotions-- happiness, sadness, vitality, tiredness-- in abundance.
I came into the year still smarting from the death of Kyle. As the first few months tredged along, the adrenaline of the intitial shock began to wane and all that was left was emptiness. But all emptiness begs to be filled, and mine was filled with many nights hanging out with friends. It seemed we all made an unconscious decision during those months to do little except make great efforts to be together. These times formed new bonds for me that were healing and, to borrow an oft stated Kyle-Saying, "life giving."
My transformation from a morbidly obese couch potato to a relatively healthy guy came to a peak in March as some of the greatest people in the world cheered me on as I finished a half-marathon. What a great experience to pass up several athletic college students who hadn't put near enough effort into training for the run.
The summer was filled with difficult times at work, generally followed by lazy afternoons at the Dugan's pool. I got a lot of sun and fell in love with beer, but mostly had a wonderful time just resting and getting to know people better. It was also at this pool that my friend Karen Thomas was baptized. Karen was the one to be baptized the day tragedy struck. They waited a bit, but when the time seemed right, Jen and David Lake (Kyle's wife and dad,) performed the ordinance. This was one of the most emotional and meaningful experiences of my life-- words fail.
It was also in summer that Tom purchased a house and we moved from the place on Austin Avenue that had become so special to me to another house just a few blocks down.
In late summer I began a relationship with a beautiful female, Jane, who is a black lab-mutt I got from the humane society. I'm a proud papa and don't know what I'd do without that pretty little girl being my friend. She now has a buddy in Ella, who is Tom and Beth's dog, and they are a hoot-- and sometimes a lot of trouble.
As fall came my weeks centered around two days-- Mondays and Fridays. On Monday I began picking the Lake boys up from school and we spend a couple of hours together while Jen and Avery have girl-time. What absolute joy this brings to my life. When we pull away from the school I always say, "Hey, do y'all see those two lakes back there?" Every time they fall for it and sit up to look out the window, realize what I've just done, and Jude says "Craig, you're funny." And my week could end right there.
But it doesn't, since I have to work. And after a hard week of work I began another ritual with Britt, Jonathan, and Josh. We began meeting for happy hour on Fridays early in the fall and, other than Mondays, I feel most alive during these times. What great friends.
The holidays were normal except for the greatest blessing of my year, which was Jason unexpectantly coming to Texas from Thailand for his grandfather's funeral. It was an unfortunate circumstance, but one which gave me time with one of my closest friends who, moreso than perhaps any one else, acts as a mirror and a compass for who I am. It may be more than a year before he and Christy come home, but this little taste will have made it worth the wait.
I also got to spend more time this Christmas with my "surrogate family." This was another blessing, and I don't use the word "blessing" very much except in sarcasm.
And that was, more or less, my year. More on my hopes for next year later. But before I go, no end of the year summary is complete without my annual list of favorites. As I've said in years past, these are not necessarily things that came out or happened in 2006, but which I've experienced this year. I've added some new random categories as well. So here goes...
Five Top Songs
5. Chasing Cars by Snow Patrol--
Yes, it was the sex between Mer and Der with the lost panties and emotions flying high at Denny's death and Izzie saying she's done with being a surgeon that made me fall in love with this song, just like you. I make no excuses and am not ashamed.
4. Summertime by Kenny Chesney--
"Cheap Shades, a tattoo, and a Yoo-Hoo bottle on the floorboard." Corny, of course, but I really dug this tune this summer.
3. All I Need by Matt Kearney-- Another song I downloaded as a result of Grey's Anatomy.
2. Good Ol' Boys Like Me by Don Williams-- "I can still hear the soft southern winds in the live oak trees/ And those Williams boys they still mean a lot to me,/ Hank and Tennesse/ I guess we're all going to be what we're going to be/ So what do you do with Good Ol' Boys like me?" This was the most played song on my Itunes playlist, so I guess I liked it a lot.
1. Everything Glorious by David Crowder-- Early in January I was asked to pray or read something, I can't even remember what it was, at Sunday morning worship service, which was still held at Truett. David introduces this little ditty he had written the week before, and I was useless for the rest of the day and can't believe I got through whatever it was I was doing. Download it. It's a great song, and yes, I'm very biased.
(Honorable Mention: Anything from Brad Paisley's Time Well Wasted album.)
Five Top Books
5. Righteous: Dispatches from the Evangelical Youth Movement by Lauren Sandler. Wonderful insights of the world I grew up in, but from an outsider. There are tons of books like this one coming out now, but this has been my favorite.
4. The Rapture of Canaan by Sheri Reynolds. Yeah, I think it was at one time an Oprah book, but so was The Poisonwood Bible, so leave me alone. It's the story of a girl in an extreme fundamentalist Christian community who begins to see glimpses of the outside. It exposes the dark side of fundamentalism, but everyone does that. Reynolds also gives a glimpse into the good that close-knit communities can bring into people's lives.
3. The Way of the Heart by Henri Nouwen. This is a tiny little book on silence, solitude, and simplicity. Very impactful.
2. The Azusa Street Revival by (?) Robeck. I've long been fascinated with the history of Pentacostalism in America. This book was a great look into the birth of the movement. It's written by an insider, but is still extremely objective-- something you don't see much of in the pentecostal, or really any, community these days.
1. Wiseblood by Flannery O'Connor. I read several of O'Connor's short stories early in the year because I've inferred from other things I've read that you have to read her stuff in order to be educated, or something like that. Wiseblood, her first novel, is the story of Hazel Motes who discovers (whether he admits it or not) that age old axiom-- You can try, but you can't run from God.
Five Top Bartenders
5. The guy from La Fiesta that isn't Mikey.
4. The brunette.
3. The blonde with all the tattoos.
1. (tie) Stephen and Kelly. (Because they are UBC folk, give better hugs than any other bartenders in town, and occasionally when you ask for the check will print off a blank sheet of paper.)
Five Top Happy Hour Conversations
5. When I talked incessantly about you-know-who and the other you-know-who.
4. When I decided I was done worrying about you-know-who and the other you-know-who.
3. When you-know-who talked about you-know-what with you-know who.
2. When we decided that #4 made happy hour way too boring.
1. When Carney got a free beer after announcing he and Lindsey were having a boy.
Five Top Lake Kid Quotes
5. "There are Penises EVERYWHERE!" : Avery, upon being frustrated with her brothers after running out of the bathroom totally naked.
4. Jude: Craig, tell me again, what is your mom's name?
(Pause that lasts at least a minute.)
Jude: Pansy! Haha, that's funny!
3. "Why do they get to swim with their clothes on?" : Sutton, while I was holding him and watching his mom and Grandfather baptize Karen in the Dugan's pool.
2. "It didn't rain on anyone else, just me." : Sutton, after peeing in his pants and telling me it rained today at school before I picked him up.
1. Me: Avery, if I get a puppy, what should I name it?
Me: Yeah, but what if it's a boy?
Me: Alright. Well how about if I get a girl I let you name it, if I get a boy
I let your brothers name it?
Avery: Well, ok. As long as you get a girl.
Top Five Movies
5. Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby
4. The Departed
3. Rocky Balboa
2. Little Miss Sunshine
1. Stranger than Fiction.
Top Five Grey's Anatomy Moments
5. Burke getting shot while coming back to Seattle Grace to check on
Denny's condition condition.
4. Izzy going down the escalator.
3. Burke telling George that Izzy was waiting standing outside the hospital.
2. Meredith on the floor, consoling Izzy.
1. When Addison walks in the room. Any room.
Well, that's it for me. Thanks for sharing this year with me. For everyone who clicks the buttons to get to my blog, I am overwhelmed and appreciative that you would spend your time reading what I have to say, even during the times it's pure drivel. Thanks, again.