Category Archives: Christopher Trester

How do you define wealth?

We live in a society that pushes the idea that in order to be happy you have to have everything. TV is full of reality shows featuring the newest famous, who never really did anything of note to be famous to begin with, showing off a lavish life style with fancy cars, fake friends, and unreal vacation spots. We are being programmed to believe that is what true happiness is, that is how you become wealthy.

This summer I have spent every weekend hanging out with the family my wife and I have built out of the friends we have been lucky enough to come across. We never spend too much money, and we always have an amazing time. We sit outside of our modest houses, drinking beer, eating cheap meats, and just loving being around each other. We laugh together, we support each other when we are down, and we love each other with everything we are.

And I say to you we are the wealthiest people in the world.

Wealth is not measured by a bank account, wealth is not measured by the things you have, true honest to goodness, genuine wealth is measured by the people you have in your life, by the love, experiences and laughs that you share.

I implore each and everyone of  you to think about that.  Take a walk in the sun, feel the breeze on your skin, talk and laugh with your friends, have a BBQ that cost 20 dollars by buying hot dogs and buns, enjoy the real fruits of life, each other and the moments you share. Because that’s all life really is, a series of moments that you can never recapture.

When I lay on my bed for that final sleep, I will lay down with the memories of the lifetime of love and happiness I shared with my friends, who are truly the family I have found along the way. I will know that I spent my time here on this Earth the best way I could, with others and sharing happiness with them.

Life is meant to be shared with others, so share it. Enjoy the company of others, even if they are strangers, strike up a conversation with that person sitting at the table across from you in the coffee shop,  ask the person standing next to you in line at the grocery store how their day is, call you cousin or brother, or sister or parent you haven’t spoken to in a while just to tell them you are thinking about them, Live, and become rich in the only thing that really matters, people and experiences.  Because in the end, memories are all you have to take with you.

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How did I get here?

The house is quiet as I write this, a glass of whiskey in my hand, my wife and kids are fast asleep, and thoughts race through my head of the day that is quickly and slowly fading into the past.

I glance over at my still flicker laptop, Facebook is still open, and I decide to scroll down, one of the great benefits of Facebook is that I can keep up with  several of my friends and relatives, I see the lives they live, the things they have, the people they have become, and I can’t help but notice how different we all turned out, how our own personal life story led us on so many different paths. Looking back on my life now it is remarkable how things happen to lead you to where you are, some things so minute, seemingly inconsequential  things add up in a way that steers your life in a direction that you never saw coming, but in hindsight was so obvious.

How did I get here?

It all started with a blown radiator…….

Call it divine intervention, call it karma, call it plain old dumb luck, but every single choice, every single decision has ramifications. Take my life today, I can trace it all back to a car my mother gave me.

I was 17 years old when my mom gave me her  old BMW, a 1990 325 IS, black with black leather interior, I didn’t care that the car was close to ten years old by the time I received it, I just thought it was beautiful. I worked on it whenever I got a chance, it was the late 90’s so I lowered it as low as I could get away with, I put a light on the undercarriage, bought some rims and lined the truck with speakers. I loved getting the chance to race people on the back roads of Charlotte, Harrisburg and Concord, I loved my long journey from my home to my high school because I got the chance to ride in my BMW. I didn’t think anything could ever make me happier. One day I was taking someone my father was working with to the airport, I let him drive the BMW because I thought he had a good head on his shoulders, because of the loud stereo system I didn’t notice the thud I should have heard when he hit the concrete barrier in front of the parking space at the airport, we said our goodbyes, I took back the keys and drove away. The next morning I was riding out to Concord to visit a friend when I found someone who wanted to race me down Lower Rocky River Road, never one to back down from a challenge I took off down the windy country road, sure in the victory I was about to enjoy, and then disaster struck.

The radiator had a small crack in it, not one I had noticed, but when the lowered car struck that parking barrier it did just enough damage to cause a small leak, whether it was the stress of the racing, whether it was some other accident that I didn’t know about or whether it was once again just dumb luck the small crack turned into a large on and dumped all the liquid from the radiator, the motor seized up and died just like that. Smoke poured from my one true love and I pulled off the road. Knowing that what lay ahead would not be good.

The motor was totally shot, no way to repair it, I’d have to get a new one and that was completely out of the question, My mother and step dad decided I would get a new car, and I would have to get a real job to help pay for it, working for family was no longer going to cut it, he decided I would have to show that I was “responsible”.

I took a job working at Sears with a friend of mine, selling tools appealed to me because I grew up around them, plus my Grandfather was only too happy to get his hands on a discount. It was an easy job, and being on commission worked out well for me. My racing friends would come in, buy a ton of tools, and I would pretty much just goof off. I still worked for the family at both the restaurant and helping my grandfather out with my cousin’s race cars, but I was had a “responsible” job, making my mother and stepfather happy.

One day this girl came in to work, and I was star struck, I thought she was the most beautiful creature I had ever seen. Never being too shy to talk to someone I decided to strike up a conversation with her, and got shot down HARD. We traded barbs the next few times we saw each other, and for whatever reason she finally began to like me a little. We soon became pretty good friends but every time I asked her out she would turn me down, she didn’t want a boyfriend, she wanted to work her two jobs. pay off her student loans and move to Europe to be a missionary, it was her life goal. For 7 months I kept after her and for 7 months she kept turning me down.

And then dumb luck, karma or divine intervention struck again.

I wasn’t supposed to work that day, I was off, but I also lived less than 2 miles from the mall. Back then I had an addiction to DVDs, I would go to Media Play every week to buy a couple of new DVDs., I love movies and for some reason the DVD format really cranked up my addiction I had purchased my weekly DVD stack and decided to stop into the mall and get a bite to eat, when I was done I thought I would bounce into Sears and see if Heather was working and see what she was up to.

“I’ll only go if he goes with me!!!”

I walked into the HUB office that Heather worked in and as soon as I did she was pointing at me and in a panic saying those words. “Sure, I’ll go!!!” I shouted out with probably too much enthusiasm and without having a clue what I was signing up for. The store had given everyone working a pair of tickets to see the Charlotte Sting, a WNBA basketball team, play that Tuesday. It seems Heather’s tickets were right next to this creepy manager who was working that day and he was pressuring Heather to go. I was all too happy to finally get Heather out on a date, no matter the circumstances.

I arrived at the Charlotte Coliseum before she did, and once she got there she admitted she really didn’t want to see the game. She was ready to just go home when I asked her if I could feed her, nothing more, just two hungry people out for a bite to eat. She agreed, but she would follow me and drive herself. We went to my family resturant where I went in the back and helped prepare her meal, I was pulling out all the stops in trying to impress her and it really wasn’t working all that well, or at least I didn’t think it was. We saw each other several times after that, including my 21st birthday, when she was the only person who spent any time with me. In order to cheer me up she took me out for my birthday, and it was the first time I ever let a girl pay for my dinner. It wasn’t too much after that the two of us got married, through allot of objections from both sides, we didn’t care we went ahead and tied the knot.

Since that day we have built a family, a family of the friends that stood with us that day and the ones we have met along the way, our lives have changed in ways we never thought, we ended up in a place we never planned to be in. We have two great kids and a family that may not be related to us by blood, but related to us by love, which is really all that matter in the end.

I think back at how upset I was at that radiator blowing, at my BMW dying and how angry I was about it all. I think about who I was back then, at the road I was headed down, and I don’t even recognize that person.

I have heard Heather tell my kids time and time again every action causes a consequence, every single thing you do every day leads to something else, be it good or bad, and while it is a cliche, it is more true than we realize.  Life is made up of a series of moment, small, large and inbetween, and each and every one of them leads to another series of moments that help define who we are, and build the life and legacy we leave behind. Tomorrow when you wake up, what decisions are you going to make? What moments are you going to make and what will that lead to in the future? Could a disappointment today lead to something amazing later? I couldn’t tell you, but I am excited to find out, how about you?

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Who Am I?

I had a completely different article for my debut on the site, but then our own Deane shared a comic strip on Facebook by the wondrous Bill Watterson and Gavin Aung Than and it got me to thinking about the molds we try to fit people in.

http://m.imgur.com/r/GetMotivated/9lzZGLN

I am a Stay At Home Father.

Yes, I know, scoff and laugh all you like, trust me I hear it all the time. I’ve heard all the jokes, been referred to as a house husband and ridiculed by several of my friends and family for somehow being lazy or being a poor excuse for a man because of the choice I had made.

If I am honest with myself, I can freely admit that I shared some of the feelings about what I was doing. Many a time I considered myself worthless, I considered what I was doing a waste and that I wasn’t providing in the ways that I should. It made me depressed quite a bit as I rolled through the day. It wasn’t until I tried to take part in things at my kids preschool that I just got mad.

That’s when my kids started to get punished for having a stay at home dad. The other parents didn’t want their kids to have my kids over for playdates, they didn’t want their kids to come over to our house for playdates. When I would try to volunteer to help in the classroom the other moms would make a big stink about it, the other fathers would give me a hard time when I would bring one of my kids to a birthday party they were invited to. Why didn’t I work, why wasn’t out doing something else, what kind of a bum was I?

But then I went to a Dad Breakfast at the preschool and realized how much better off I really was. The kids had all drawn pictures of their fathers and made paper ties for the dads. On the ties the children had written all the things their fathers loved to do. Most of the ties had very little written on them, and each and every one had “work” on it, my tie, was covered. Giovanni had written numerous things, the tie spilled out my love for the Chicago Bears, my love of music, of cooking, my favorite foods, my favorite book and comics, but the big one was “PLAYING WITH ME!” That was one of my favorite past times, and no other parent had it on their tie, at least not in Giovanni’s class, and I know because each kid read the tie out to us.

After the breakfast the teachers took the time to point out how important fathers were in their kids lives, how we can not be absentee parents, how the children need to know we love them, we care for them and we want to spend time with them. The whole time they were talking all I could think of was how incredibly lucky I was, my son knew me. He really knew me, I had spent so much time being depressed and angry over the fact that I wasn’t doing what all these other dads were doing, I wasn’t out there earning my keep, when I should have been incredibly grateful for the time I was having with my children, getting to know them, and them getting to know me.

Children generally flock to their mothers, my wife and kids are the same, they get hurt they mainly want mommy, the don’t feel good they want mommy, but when they want to talk about something, when they are scared, they want me. I am not a stranger to them, they know who I am and are as comfortable with me as they are with my wife. I am their constant, their security blanket, I have been there their entire lives and they know if they see me there, everything is going to be alright, because it always has been.

I think back on my life growing up and I think of my grandmother, she never learned to drive, she raised 8 kids, many grandkids, and kept the house running. My grandfather would get up to go to work every day and she would follow behind with his lunch box and shoes. When he came home late at night she would be there with his slippers and dinner. During the day she made sure the house was in working order, paid the bills, washed the clothes, got the groceries, it was what she did, and my grandfather worked hard to provide the money that paid for all that.

My depression and anger all went back to that, I thought that was what I had to be, I thought that was what my life I had resemble, I had to fit in that mold, I had to be that person, live that life or else I wasn’t doing it right, I was living life wrong.

I have come to discover that there is no set rule on life. My wife goes to work every morning and I stay behind at the house, I vacuum, I mop, I clean bathrooms and wash clothes, I prepare dinners, I help my kids with their homework and do all the things I thought my wife should do, and not only does it work, it works well. My kids are happy, they have no idea that we are not living in ways that society has deemed normal, they have no idea we do not fit the mold that has been carved out for us, all they know is that they get to come home to a house full of love and that they do not have anything to worry about, besides cleaning up their rooms.

Yesterday I was in line waiting to pick the kids up from school, we don’t live far from the school so I walk to pick the kids up most days. Mostly the walker line is used by moms who think they are beating the system, parking across the street from the school and picking their kids up from the walker line. They are very proud of how smart they are, and very proud of the fact that they think they are getting away with something. They all had a good chuckle when the school sent out a memo asking parents to not use the walker line if the kids were actually car riders, they weren’t going to change and no one was going to make them. One of these incredibly smart and entitled ladies noticed me in line yesterday and remarked how it must be nice to have a long lunch break to be able to pick up my kids, and asked if I had a nanny I was bringing them to. I simply stated I was not on my lunch break and the kids and I were going to the library to read some before going home. She asked me what I do to be able to get off early, do I make my own hours, she was quite enthralled with my answer, until I told her, quite proudly I was a stay at home dad. The disgust oozed from the “oh” that came from her lips as she quickly turned around, hoping I would not speak to her again.

A minute or two goes by and she turns around again, this time to inform me in full righteousness that I was wrong for what I was doing, I was causing gender confusion for my children. I was teaching them the wrong way to be. She thought she was on a  crusade, she had to save my children from me and my backward ways. I simply thanked her for her concern and told her it has worked for us for eight years now, and everyone has their own way to raise their children. A few years ago I would have told the woman off, right there in the walker line at school, I would have probably insulted her in some way, and gotten angry over the fact that she insulted me. But now? How can I get angry for a sheep being a sheep? A fox being a fox? People don’t understand things that are different from their normal, it bothers them, they don’t like it when someone doesn’t fit the mold.

I love The Chicago Bears, I like to cook extravagant meals, I wear fedoras with almost every outfit and have more than most hat stores, I enjoy the works of Charles Dickens, Agatha Christie, Walt Whitman and Sheeley, I partake in wine, beer and spirits, I read comic books and have a great deal of affection for Chris Claremont’s time on the X-Men, I play disc golf, I fish, I enjoy the occasional video game, I watch pro wrestling, I can never turn down a piece of pizza or the chance to go to a Hibachi Restaurant, I make sauce every Sunday, I am obsessive with grilling so much so that I own three grills for direct cooking fuels, I am a die hard Chicago Bulls fan, I screamed and jumped around like an idiot when the Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup, I have the greatest friends a person could ask for, a wife who loves me, a family we have built from friends, my day consists of vacuuming, mopping, cleaning bathrooms, paying bills, washing clothes, doing homework and playing with my kids.

I am incredibly happy and incredibly loved.

I do not fit a mold, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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