I decided to write again. I wanted to write again. Truth be told, I really needed to write again.
I’m currently sitting poolside at the indoor pool at the Fairfield Inn in Scranton Pennsylvania. In the barely 24 hours that I’ve been back in Scranton, I’ve found an incredibly unexpected reason for having such incredible gratitude.
I first moved to this area almost 28 years ago in September of 1994. During my time here, I had a number of negative experiences that far outweighed the positive ones, and I’d always thought of Northeast Pennsylvania as something that I’d survived and put into the rear view mirror.
About three weeks ago, I made a decision that no loving parent should have to make. My daughter Lauryn told a judge in Lancaster Pennsylvania that she’d rather live with and be adopted by her grandparents, as she would rather have their last name, and as she doesn’t want to be a part of my life. Although her decision was based on a number of untruths that she has been told for her entire life, this decision is what would make Lauryn incredibly happy right now, after many months of darkness since her mother passed away. Yes, I could appeal, but at this point an appeal would only cause more resentment from Lauryn, and that would only make the chance of a future reconciliation with her much more difficult.
For a number of years since moving to Virginia, I’ve felt that Lauryn was the only true success I’d had while living in Pennsylvania, and that there was absolutely nothing else positive to show for my 18 years that I’d lived here. After the judge’s recent decision, I felt like my entire life from 1994 – 2012 was a complete waste.
My original plan this weekend was to stay in the hotel and binge watch Netflix except for things that Jenn and I had planned. I’m very thankful that things did not go as scheduled….I ended up connecting with three former band mates from when I lived here, and we reminisced about how much fun we had back in the day. I also reconnected with Debra Costanzo, one of my lifelong best friends who I met and worked with here over 25 years ago. As I’m now almost 53, my perspective was surprisingly different after spending time with everyone last night. I felt very grateful to have had the opportunity to be reminded of a lot of positive and fun experiences that I never viewed as special. I’m realizing just how much these moments meant to the people around me, and I wish I’d been more aware of these moments all those years ago when they happened.
This morning I went to JCPENNEY at the Viewmont Mall, where I was a manager from 1994-1996. This was also the place of a lot of my failures, including the biggest one I had when from when I lived here. I reached out to one of my former JCP colleagues this morning, and we had a wonderful conversation. Sadly, she informed me that one of my mentor colleagues (with whom I used to share an office) passed away a few years back, so I’m also grieving this person’s passing this afternoon, but also feeling incredibly thankful that this person was such an incredible mentor to me. Today for the first time, I didn’t feel the normal shame I’d feel when I’d walk through the store in the past. It felt like a fresh start.
Although I don’t know what my future holds with Lauryn, I don’t feel like the failure I’ve been feeling like for the past few weeks. Where it’s been easy to go into the mindset of “I may never see Lauryn again” as a reminder of my perceived failures, I’ve felt a feeling of optimism today. I’m going to continue to try and communicate with her, even if the communication is not reciprocated. As Jenn and many others have said, I took the high road and put her needs above my own. There’s no failure in that. I can honestly say that I’m not sure I’d feel this way had I not come up here this weekend.
And by the way – I know a number of my friends are a little thrown by my “Günther Varnish” posts….that’s something that started when I lived up here and was gigging here and in NYC using that stage name. A lot of the humor is “inside joke”, but it’s something that became very fun and creative with some fellow musicians who are no longer on this earth, and it makes me think of them and of my time here in NEPA with some very fond and funny memories. The fact that some people thought that Lane Stowe was more of a fake stage name than Günther Varnish still makes me laugh all these years later.
To the wonderful friends and family I have here in Scranton and Northeast Pennsylvania…I offer a heartfelt THANK YOU….where I’ve often felt resentment for living here, I can now appreciate the life lessons I’ve learned here, and how my time here has helped me to become a better human being. For these things, I am most grateful. And I’m very glad that this place is nothing like the way it’s been portrayed on The Office!