Chapters.

This past week has marked the next phase of my life. I’ve made a few hints about it on social, but it’s time to talk about the changes this last month has brought about in full.

But first, a momentary detour, as is my penchant to never get directly to the point.

I did the most recent Billboard Music Awards this past weekend. My sixth year on the show, and like the ACMs, there’s always a few stories that go with it.

This year's variant shot.

This year’s variant shot.

People have asked me what working these shows is like, and it’s hard to explain, as it sounds so surreal to mention well-known artists in a casual context. But I work with these people, and we work as professionals. I see these artists as most don’t: Doing rough run throughs or restarts of their songs. Wearing sweatshirts and jeans or no make-up. It’s far more personal, and interesting, and it really gives a unique insight to their creative processes. Sometimes we say “Hello”, and get a chance to talk and joke a little. Other times, we just watch their work, while lining up for our next mark. Sometimes I’ve announced huge names before a performance, though it’s never been televised. Whether it’s watching the Go-Go’s, or D.N.C.E., each story ends up being a moment.

And sometimes, they’re just really awesome people….

Behind the scenes.

Behind the scenes.

Ariana Grande actually took this selfie. I had asked after rehearsal, and she said that she’d take the photo with my phone (and honestly, how could I say “No” to that?). That girl has an amazing voice for modern pop, and a very friendly and energetic attitude. She looks like she has fun on stage, and it translates well to her music.

The other highlight was Madonna’s performance during a Prince tribute, which was apparently more controversial that I realized (There was a change.org petition to stop her – Seriously, people?). She did a cover of “Nothing Compares To You”, which was followed by Stevie Wonder walking out onstage to duet on “Purple Rain”. During the rehearsal, Madonna pointed to our little group and told us to sing along, and it… was an emotional experience. There were a lot of tears and hugs during rehearsals… hard to believe that Prince has performed just three years ago, the same as it’s hard to believe that it’s been over a month. This was an average work day, and while sometimes I take Jen to see the televised shows, it’s moments like this that make it an experience that becomes something else entirely.

In the end, it becomes a moment, and my life is defined by “moments”. This collection of random memories and experiences that have defined my life, and it’s only been more recently that I’ve been able put everything into some cohesive connection. They’re chapters. And Billboard became the countdown factor to this next one.

It’s no secret that I had struggled for a few years. Becoming lost. Experiencing loss. Becoming broken. Recalibrating myself. And all of it has led me here, and put me back on my path, with a chance to honor a promise that I made three years ago.

When Junie died, I promised that one day I would devote myself to the well being and betterment of animals, and it took me a while to get there, struggling as a square piece trying to fit into a round hole. My life’s broad nature comes with, in technical terms, compatibility issues, and I don’t always fit in someone else’s “vision”. But the funny thing is that you can work with all sorts of people over the years. Some work to be a “leader”, acting as an inspiration that reaches out to lift you up and guide you. Others “boss”, and work to tear you down, in order to mold you to their viewpoint. It’s been my finding that the formers are the ones that provide the actual knowledge and experience.

But the last few years have left me standing with a new purpose, and back to charting my own path. So I became a business owner, now working to creating a themed pet resort experience for vacationing animals, and later opening my home as a “foster house” that will help animals in need so that they can be adopted. The opportunity presented itself, and I chose to take it. Another “moment” in my life, and I could finally make good on an overdue promise, and help others like I did with Junie when they need it most. That is how I ended up with Frodo and Stardust, after all.

So it’s been website building, business card designing, house changing madness for the last month, a month that has shifted other priorities, and redefined values of “importance”. Things have to change, and it will leave me better for it in the long run.

I’m back into more of a “gig” lifestyle again, that allows for the continuation of shows, strengthening my writing projects, and the option to explore this new chapter. I feel more centered than I have in a good while. I came to terms with a lot of things on my trip last fall, and as a result feel more acceptant. I’ve inherited my Dad’s knack for storytelling, and my Mother’s affinity for animals. And sure, I feel a sharp tinge in my side from time to time… a reminder from two years ago to slow it down a little, and not take things so seriously anymore. But it keeps me focused on finding a solution that fits me.

I sat tonight on the patio, the wind on my face, and Frodo in my lap, and I’m getting used to this being my new reality. This new chapter will allow for more new moments that will blend into everything that’s come before, and further define my own story. For a moment, I allowed myself to feel a sense of peace.

“It’s a good life”, I quietly mused to myself.

Good enough….

We Are….

I got a book in the mail today about my old college called We Are Navarro. While my old college was part of my younger days in my hometown, the need to buy the book took on a deeper meaning for me:

My Dad taught there.

For about 35 years, actually (though closer to 40 as he went part time in his later years). My Dad taught state & local and national government classes. He was a long-time fixture at the school, and I grew up on campus. I once ate almost an entire bowl of coffee creamers out of the teacher’s lounge when I was five. I sat in his office and did homework during his night classes, wandering around campus when I was bored of studying. I worked with him to introduce SimCity to his class on Super Nintendos that the college bought and then later flew to Washington D.C. with him and the family when he won a teacher’s award for it. The faculty members always visited the house, so I grew up with them as well, knowing them all on a first name basis (something I struggled with, not knowing what to call them when I actually did become a student). I got all A’s in my Dad’s classes. Not because he was easy on me, but out of fear. I screwed up on a test, I heard about it over dinner or the weekend.

I found out my Dad was mentioned in the book, and so I ordered a copy. I saw old faces, friends, remembered a lifetime growing up on that campus, and how even recently just last fall, Jen and I walked the campus on a cool September night. My Dad was on page 52. I felt a rush of emotion and tears as I read through the pages. Not quite sad, but something deeper as I saw a part of my life in book form as I realized, perhaps more than most, that “I Am Navarro”. That school affected me deeper than most places ever will.

I heard recently that if you come from a small town that in order to really love it, you have to hate it first. And I think for a brief time or two, I did. When I left for San Diego in 2001, I felt “over” my life in Texas, as things had changed so much. When Dad passed in 2008 and I left our family home for what would be the last time, I thought that was truly the end of my life there. I returned once in 2009, and it felt more like a museum to me, a life that I used to be, and that I couldn’t return to.

And I didn’t return to Corsicana until 2014, and that was for my high school reunion. It was there that I reunited with so many people that I grew up, and felt the pride, and community, and friendship that I thought was “over” for me, but it really wasn’t. My friends and schoolmates restored my faith in a life that wasn’t “over” anymore. It was just different now, and I could find something of solace in that as well. Last year’s visit reaffirmed that my hometown will always be a part of my life, and all the things I’ve done now could never have been possible without that time there.

So tonight, I shed tears for Navarro, my friends, and my Father, remembering my childhood there, and an autumn night’s stroll with my fiancee a few short months ago.

I realize now that I’ve had a shift in my priorities, and the importance of “roots” and “legacy”. Someone recently told me that I’ve done enough to have filled three lifetimes, and perhaps there’s a truth to that. I love adventure, but I don’t need unnecessary fast pace. I save that for the moments that are worth it. I’ve relaxed in some ways. I don’t need dramatic spectacles, and I don’t need to discard friendships and burn bridges to prove some short-term point or over some superficial “slight”. And people are far too quick to make other people “disposable”. I’m not interested in this line of thinking. A “time out” does not mean “forever”. I was reminded of that with three friends in the last year that I haven’t seen in 10-20 years. We lost touch, we reconnected, and it was just picking up from last time.

I also realize that in a society of “extremes” everything is either “all or nothing”, which has caused me to step more out and away from some topics. It’s one of the biggest reasons that I never really discuss political or religious views. It’s not that I don’t have beliefs or opinions, I just don’t need to polarize my relationships with all of my various friends. Right now, my more prominent goals are: How can I help people, and how can I be more kind. Life’s too short to antagonize. Everyone deserves a fair shot at this thing called life, and it’s not my place to disrupt another’s journey. I’ve also removed a lot of “clickbait” sites to help me better reconnect with people. There’s a tinge of loss in the pioneered simplicity of the early days of the internet, something I’ve been researching in my spare time. I even found my old Geocities site, which was another unique online chapter of mine.

And perhaps it’s those “multiple lifetimes” that cause me to be more reserved these days. I’ve seen a lot, more than the stories that I love to share. And I certainly haven’t run out of things to do. Jen and I visited Utah a week ago on the grounds that we’ve never been, and that was enough incentive. We drove through St. George and saw a Dinosaur Discovery Site museum that was built over an in-progress dig. The locals apparently don’t like them due to the whole “evolution” thing, so I donated a few dollars and told them to “keep up the good work”. You have to defy convention sometime. It’s how we keep discovering. Jen and I continued our drive to a tiny trading post in Virgin, Utah where we petted tiny bossy horses that wanted carrots in a petting zoo. And then we continued on to Zion National Park, which I’ve seen enough rocks to last me a lifetime out here, but this view… was well worth the drive.

Welcome to Utah.

Welcome to Utah.

As always, those travel pics are found here.

I’m at an interesting crossroads of realizations and waiting for things to line up. Perhaps stepping back has been good for me. And I think perhaps my priorities are changing to where I am finding my own sense of peace, and that means shifts in interactions, and avoidance of stressors. And I’ve found some unusual affirmations. I ended up beating a fairly difficult video game last night, and it felt good. Despite some changes, I still have some skills that aren’t going away anytime soon. As Kevin Flynn once said: “It’s all in the wrists”, and those first and early days of Midway treated me well. All of these lifetimes still reside within one person. Thing is, I’m now ready to accept it all.

While I don’t think I’ll settle back in Texas anytime soon, I think my story there still has a few more things to say.

After all, if my Dad’s story can still continue on, so can mine.