#1063: Life is Like a Lake

RECORD STORE TALES #1063: Life is Like a Lake

Over the course of 51 years on the shores of Lake Huron, I have witnessed the power of nature and the change it brings every season.  Change is the one constant in life, isn’t it?  For better or worse, everything changes.  Nothing can remain static.  Things wear and decay, and are eventually replaced by newer, younger things.  This is obvious every spring on the shores of Huron.  The coast changes, the rocks, the trees, everything.  In a way, life is like a lake.

When we returned this spring, much had changed.  The seasons are unrelenting.  We found several large rocks, freshly cracked, and sharp like blades.  Over the summer and fall, water found its way through microscopic cracks in the stones.  Over winter, it froze and expanded, breaking rocks clean in half.  The remnants are like ancient stone cutting tools, sharp and jagged.  In a way, that’s parallel with relationships.  Sometimes things set in, year after year, until they eventually expand and crack the relationship in two.  I’ve experienced this recently.  The edges that cut are still painful.

Things die over the winter.  Some young trees do not survive.  Older ones fall, only to become firewood for the coming year.  Just like life, and the losses we experience more and more as we get older.  It never gets easier.  It’s a matter of picking up the pieces are carrying on.

The only constant at the lake is change.  Eternal change.  This is especially obvious when you look back at old photographs.  The lake levels change, the beach is covered with rocks one year, and sand the next.  The changes cannot be predicted, except that the land will change.  Where men once pushed the forest and weeds back, now they encroach again when left untended.  It’s quite amazing how quickly nature can retake a patch of land left untouched.  Just like life.  Neglect an aspect of your life, be it physical or mental, and you will notice the difference.  Life must be worked, at constantly, or you will lose what you gained.

Some years, there is more life than others.  Some years, wild turkeys.  Other years, foxes.  Perhaps the foxes scared away the turkeys.  Once in a while we’ll have a dear, or a bear.  Raccoons, porcupines and skunks are common.  When the animals disappear, you can only guess as to why.  Kind of like being “ghosted” in life.  Sometimes they return unexpectedly.  Always a delight.  Like a friend returning after a long absence.

One thing that is clear at the lake:  You cannot return to the past.  The past is gone, like the ghost of a memory.  Things only move forwards, not backwards.  The massive winter ice sheets we used to get are gone now, likely never to return in my lifetime.  The rivers carve away the landscape, leaving different shapes.  The cliffs we used to walk as kids no longer exist, or are now on inaccessible private property, built over and paved.  There is no return.  Those things are gone.

And that’s life in a nutshell.







#675: 5% (This House is Not for Sale)

For 16 years, I have been waiting for a phone call.

GETTING MORE TALE #675: 5% (This House is Not for Sale)

My dad, an old school banker, used to tell me, “Never pay somebody rent when you can put that money towards owning something of value.”

I lived in a rental apartment with T-Rev for a little while in the 90s, but mostly I lived with my folks.  That allowed me to save a lot of money for a place to live.  In 2002 I bought a condo.  I was lucky.  It was the first and only place I looked at.  It was 10 minutes away from work, 10 minutes away from my parents, and absolutely perfect for me.  I soon as I saw it, I started planning where the stereo would go.

I wanted to have my own place before I turned 30, and I was the first Record Store employee to buy one.  I could tell the office Bully was jealous.  When I told everyone I bought my own place, they all sent their congratulations, except the Bully.  She sent a back-handed email about how I had it easy living with my parents all this time.  I hit “delete”, but I did not forget.  It was a pattern of belittling that continued over the years.

I wasn’t trying to boast.  Just sharing my happy news with people who I thought were my friends.

I got married, continued to work hard, and a couple weeks ago, I finally got the phone call from the bank that I had been waiting 16 years for.  “Congratulations!  You are now among the 5% of Canadians that own their homes with no mortgage!”

What a feeling!  It doesn’t seem like 16 years.  More like 10.

Back when I moved in, I insisted that only I carry my treasured CD collection.  If any jewel cases were broken, I could only blame myself!  (Only a couple broke.)  My whole family helped.  We had the place painted later that night and I was entertaining my first guests two days later!

First movie played at the new place:  Star Wars Episode I.

Those kinds of things are important, you know.

After I got married, we meant to find a bigger place.  We both had great jobs and the time seemed right.  Unfortunately Mrs. LeBrain got sick – really sickEpilepsy has changed our lives and we have not been able to move.  Too many far more important things to do.  We’ve outgrown this place, but we will make it work.

We own it free and clear.  It’s ours.  The roof over our head is a security blanket that we never take for granted.


#332: Getting Older Everyday


#332:  Getting Older Everyday

I’ve been lucky enough to marry a simply awesome lady.  Jen is a remarkable human being, but she also has one additional gift: the gift of looking perpetually young.  She still sometimes gets carded, mistaken for a student, and so on.

Meanwhile here I am: Captain Grey Beard.  I still look pretty young when I’m clean shaven.  When I have a beard, forget about it!  My beard started greying a year or two after marriage.  I don’t think the two events are connected…but you never know.

Now, things are so bad that I have twice been mistaken for Jen’s father.

The first time it happened, we were at the Keg.  It was Jen, her mom, and myself.  The server handed Jen a hot plate without enough warning and she burned her hand slightly.  While she and her mom went to the washroom to run some cold water on her hand, the manager came out to apologize.  He said to me, “I’m so sorry about what happened to your daughter.”

My daughter!  Oh man.  That was a shitty meal, I’m sorry Keg, but you blew that one!  None of us were in a good mood after that.

The second time it happened, Jen was meeting me at work.  She walked in as our shipping supervisor was heading out the door.  He’s a nice guy, about my age.  The following day, he asked me, “So who was the young lady that you were meeting here yesterday?  Was that your daughter?”

I didn’t stab him in the eye with a pencil.

And then, this past summer, something similar (and weird) happened.

Jen and I were out for a nice evening stroll.  There were some kids playing near the park by our place.  They were younger kids, none of them would have been older than about 10.  As we walked past, I heard one kid yell the following:

“LOOK!  That lady and that old man peed their pants!”

I looked around.  There was nobody else on the street!  They were referring to us, and I assure you that we had NOT peed our pants!  I don’t know where that came from, but it was probably the first time I’d been referred to as “old man”!