#AtoZChallenge: E is for Eight Things I’ve Left Behind


stormtroopers sunset romance

If only it was only eight.

EIt’s eight – times something. Eighty? Eight thousand? Eighty-eight thousand? That depends on if you count car keys and wallet as two things, left behind regularly, or one for every time. I wouldn’t want to do that math.

If God had a cosmic lost-and-found bin, even The Great I Am would assess me a storage fee.

I’ll forego listing the plastic dinosaurs I buried beside my house just before dad put on a sidewalk, or the UNC Charlotte sweatshirt left on the bus in Louisville. Same, too, for the stormtrooper Tervis, the actual stormtrooper from my youth, a few tons of innocence …

1. My Rockies cap

You know when something has only one purpose, fits into one divot in this universe? That’s my head, to this cap. No, I didn’t lose my head. (Not this time). I set my battered, weathered, faded-to-gray-from-black Rockies cap on the trunk lid while pumping gas …

And my signature lid is now part of the universe (or crammed in a landfill in North Mecklenburg County, N.C., USA.

2. Piece of a race car

When racing was cool but not Hollywood, I covered NASCAR for the Hickory Daily Record. A local guy made the Grand National race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. He turned a few laps on the quad oval track before some ruffian rubbed him into the wall.

A rear quarter panel flew off his Ford. A track worker collected it and tossed it in a simple Rubbermaid trash bin. I walked right over like I owned the place, jerked out the fiberglass souvenir and tossed it in the bed of my truck, which was parked in the infield.

I left that relic behind on the sports desk when I left for the Asheville Citizen-Times.

3. Music

In junior high, I’d determined I would become a baritone sax player in a studio band. My new high school didn’t have jazz band, though. I picked Astronomy as the default elective course, only no one else signed up for it, so the school cancelled it.

They stuck me in a class – Intro to Journalism. The rest was low-key history.

4. My heart

I leave it places, in settings and with people I encounter. Charleston and Cancun. Asheville and Nashville. I feel like a mashup of playdoh colors, and in many places, I leave a swath of me but not without taking with me something I loved in that new place.

5. Being a son

My father’s death was, I recognized immediately, the most permanent event of my life. All else is impermanent, painful as it might feel to consider losing status as a mate or father. Since, distance has grown between my mom and me, too. I feel like son to none.

6. The newspaper life

I still write and work in the biz, but as a freelancer. It allows me to tell a story, paint an image (in 400-600 words) without working every holiday, every weekend. My former career was also the life force that destroyed my pursuit of happiness in many ways.

I’ve emerged sharpened, yet softened.

7. An entire stack of cones

It was a majestic tower of training cones, color coded, probably the most orderly manifestation of my life at the time. Someone swiped it, at a home training session. Know what? I now have a new collection, gathered over time and in desperation.

I’ll gather again if these disappear.

8. An expectation of permanence

I’ve cleaned house, and deleted contacts. I’ve stood firm, and stayed positive. I’ve learned to love the moment with beauty I’ve been lucky enough to encounter. I’ve learned that even the darkest days will pass. The brightest ones, too. I try not to let them pass quickly.

I’m working toward an indifference toward perception of me, or how I’ve failed, or opportunities lost.

It’s what we do now, and next, that carries more impact.

That’s something I hope to never leave behind.

me quote

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46 thoughts on “#AtoZChallenge: E is for Eight Things I’ve Left Behind”

      1. Yep. They were a Cubs affiliate, then Indians. No significant players came through for the Cubs, but we had Manny Ramirez, Jim Thome and Albie Lopez with the Indians. Albie is significant because he and I are doppelgangers apparently.

        They were with the Marlins for a season or two. The Marlins came to town for an exhibition and I got to talk to Jeff Conine and Terry Pendleton.

        They’re in an uptown ballpark right now that I just can’t fall in love with like the old ballpark. It’s cool that the White Sox are also affiliated with the Kannapolis Intimidators, just up the Interstate from here.

  1. My husband lost a cap he picked up in Itasca State Park a few years ago and he’s pretty sure it fell out of our Burley one time and he still talks about it! I relate to leaving your heart places. I have a piece of my heart in several areas as well.

    1. We fellas remember stuff like that, Beth! I think some places just naturally take a bit of us, but they’re giving us some of them, too, and we usually walk away better than before. Usually.

  2. I absolutely love this post. # 5….Im right there with you. My dad and I had come a long way and as I became an adult, our bond was unbreakable. I feel parentless so often and even after 5 years, I still pick up the phone to call him.

    1. Thanks, Kim. I have 37,000 questions I never got to ask my dad. I wish God would go ahead and open a phone line so we could talk to our dads now and then. At least on Father’s Day.

  3. OH Eli, as always- every time I come over to read your words, I’m struck by your talent and your heart. #5 hit my heart hard- as it aches for you. And #8 was profound and incredibly beautiful. I re-read it three times, just to soak it all in- your wisdom, your incredible perspective always moves me.

    Thank you for that. Thank you for being YOU.

    1. Thanks, CC – it’s great to see you here. No. 5 reinforces my resolve to stay in my girls’ lives as long as they’ll have me.

      No. 8 has been a long lesson, my friend. My life circumstances don’t change much, but I hope to work on the way I deal with it all.

      Thank you for being you, for influencing my writing, my willingness to put myself out here. Thanks for being YOU, Christine.

  4. there’s a picture of my mom and i on the bulletin board in my room. i’m wearing a notre dame cap. of the memorabilia purchased that weekend, the cap was my favorite. not sure what happened to it. that day was a really good one, though. the irish beat the horns SOUNDLY. it was sometime in the nineties. i think i had just graduated from college and my younger brother was close to doing so himself. we’d gone to south bend with two other families (one DIE HARD horns fans and the other devout irish fans). i don’t know why, but i think at one point it was like forty to nothing… it was BEAUTIFUL.

    i like the reminder that yesterday means jack squat. it’s so easy to forget that and let the past influence our present.

    1. Love that story! Football loyalty is something else. I’ve worn a cap of a team I don’t love, and it’s amazing to see how I’m loved and hated based on the logo.

      Sometimes, I have to look at the hat to see who I’m wearing!

      I’ve had a couple of days lately where I’ve struggled mightily letting go of things I can’t control. It sure isn’t easy. But it’s the best way forward, isn’t it?

      So glad to see you here, Jenn. Look forward to reading you more.

  5. The Rockies…the Rockies have Greg Holland. I used to get really excited when Greg Holland stepped onto the mound. I miss him. I really miss him with the Royals.

    1. Greg Holland is a North Carolina boy. I love having him in that Colorado bullpen! Sorry we stole him, but also not sorry. What a start my boys are off to!

    1. Thanks, Courtney. I nearly left behind a nifty Champion hoodie at the playing grounds this weekend. By fate and dumb luck, I found it.

      And I appreciate the compliment!

  6. Sorry about your Rockies cap. I love my Cardinals hats–have several. I now glory in baseball season!
    Enjoy your freelance work. I miss doing newspaper stories every week.

    1. Thanks, Monti. I’ve replaced it, and the replacement is getting the proper aged look to it. And feel!

      Newspaper work is fun. It feels like I’m going back to my roots.

  7. Hm. I have to think about some of this.

    Things I’ve left behind (other than randomly lost “things” I swear I lose my keys and phone at least once a week):
    – a confining marriage (to a great guy, he just wasn’t meant to be mine)
    – ashes to letters to people I love and lost too soon (I have a burn can in my kitchen just for this.)
    – friendships which no longer brought out the best in me
    – a rising star career in exchange for sanity and stability (and good health insurance and retirement).
    – my heart in a million pieces on the floor of a dorm room in Ithaca NY, again in the surf in Myrtle Beach, and once more at the airport in Orlando
    – a bathing suit top in a lake we were water skiing in
    – a half burned journal in the ashes of a camp fire
    – a hoodie and $100, a set of keys, a thank you note to his parents for everything they’d done for me, and my dignity when I went back a month later.

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