A Year of Thanks

1 post a day for 365 days showing gratitude

20 years ago September 14, 2011

Filed under: adult fun,family fun,friends,kids — courtsbrogno @ 10:01 pm

Twenty years ago, I was 15 and I thought I knew everything. Everything. I mean, everything. I had the entire world figured out and with the help of Kurt Cobain, I really understood life. I had watched enough Disney and John Hughes movies to know how love worked, I had a good group of friends and we were convinced we’d live next door to each other forever, and all the money I made at my part-time job was spent on me, me, me. I was the center of the universe. The world gravitated toward me.

Twenty years later, at 35, I realize I know nothing. Nothing. I mean, nothing. Kurt Cobain killed himself, life moved on, and I don’t understand much. There weren’t enough movies at the Cineplex to teach me about love and life, my friends have morphed and changed over time and none of us are neighbors, and all my money is spent on bills. My children are the center of my universe and I am but a small speck of dust, 1 person of almost 7 billion. I do not hold the world in my hands. I do not have the answers.

But somehow I feel like I still have learned a lot. Even though I know less and am more uncertain every day, I actually know more and grow more certain every day. I look at this sentence and realize it makes no sense, but yet, it also makes perfect sense. Wonderful sense. In the past 20 years I have changed more than I could ever have imagined and the past few weeks have shown me how different my life is at 35 from what I thoguht it would be when I was 15.

At 15, I never imagined myself with two kids and single. I think I imagined myself married and living in sweet harmony somewhere in Montana (I always wanted to live in Montana. I don’t even know why. I’ve never even been there) with a couple of young kids running through the grass. Easy kids. Always well-behaved kids. Now, at 35, however, I couldn’t imagine my life any differently. I love my kids, and I love the bad ass way I brought them into life, confident in my ability to parent by myself. Sure, a little different than most people and a lot different than what I had thought at 15, but it’s still pretty kick-ass. When I meet a man who doesn’t like kids and seems to holds it against me that I have kids, I really do think, ‘Well, that’s a shame because really the mama part of me is the BEST part of me.”

Because my life with kids has been a roller coaster of fun times. We’ve had a few dips here and there–late night puke sessions, yelling across the dinner table, one concussion, and countless time outs–but mostly we have fun. Family fun. Really, really good fun.

Like watching Maddie play her first ever volleyball game (and I am not kidding when I say Horace Grant was in the audience. Because he lives in the area and his daughter goes to the opposing team’s school. But how cool is that? Horace Grant watched my daughter play volleyball!. )

Maddie’s school lost BIG TIME (with Horace Grant watching no less), but Maddie did really well. I think this may be her sport.

Family fun is having my brother-in-law buzz Luke’s hair because I’m tired of paying for haircuts when it grows back so damn fast. Twenty years ago the thought of my 13 year old sister being married with kids to a wonderful man was unthinkable. She didn’t even like boys. Now I can’t imagine Jon not being part of our lives.



(Half-way. Cate blow drying the hair off Luke’s neck)


20 years ago, I would never have thought that hanging out with my mom would ever be fun nor did I think I’d live in a small town. I saw myself city-bound (for a while at least, then it was off to Montana). The jokes on me now because I hang out with my mom all the time and we do have fun and I live in a town so small that it’s almost impossible to go anywhere without running into someone you know. This past week, I took my mom and the kids to our town’s last Friday night concert and we, of course, ran into many friends.

(The concert)

(My mom with Megan and Sadie)

(Jenny and her mom)

(Carolyn and Mark, Garth’s parents)


Twenty years ago, I didn’t think my mom knew I had smoked pot, but apparently she did because she said to Maddie, “Your mom smoked a lot of pot in high school.” I looked at my mom in disbelief not because she knew I smoked pot, but because now, as a parent, what am I supposed to say about my past, the things I did 20 years ago?

I also didn’t think that I would turn into the parent of my mom and scold her for bad manners like talking on her phone constantly: at dinner, at restaurants, at the coffee shop.

(Fun family time at coffee shop, but oh no, what’s that…)

(It’s my mom on her damn phone!)

I remember countless fights about me being on the phone when I was 15 and this was pre-cell phones; actually, I think it was pre-call waiting, so my mom was always yelling at me to get off the phone, and now, dammit, I’m yelling at her to get off the phone. My 15 year old-self cannot even grasp the reality of this.

In the past 20 years I’ve made some amazing new friends and I love how much they love me and my kids.

(Megan and I walked the kids downtown for dinner, but Megan walked Luke on her bike. And now he’s forever in love with her).

(Jenn and my kids)

(A bunch of girlfriends from the early college days came into town to visit Colleen, whom I’ve written about before, and who is still battling cancer. Keep her in your prayers.)

My new friends are amazing, but there’s something about the people who knew you in your youth that make them even more special. Twenty years ago, I lived in south Orange County in a pretty tight neighborhood, and it was then that I met a lot of the friends I still have today. One group in particular, a bunch of boys that all lived down the street from me and literally all next door to each other, taught me a whole hell of a lot. These boys were older, wiser, and much more experienced then me. I was just this skinny, 15 year old girl who so wanted to be as cool as they were. They went to college, and I stayed home and went to high school. They went on fun summer adventures, and I got to hear about them when they came home. But the one thing they did share with me was the love of a band. Two of the neighborhood boys, Drew and Jack, went to Chico State for undergraduate school and came home with tapes of this band, The Mother Hips, who played at their college parties. Soon, regardless of what college we attended (or what high school we were still at), everyone in the neighborhood was listening to these tapes. I’m not even sure if I loved the tape they gave me because I thought the music was so amazing or if it was the love of these boys sharing their music with me, but the band grew on me, and once I went to college, and the band started touring California, I went to every show possible. I think I’ve been to probably 50+ Mother Hips shows.

**Disclaimer: If you’re not a Mother Hips fan, you just may want to skip this entire portion**

They call their music California soul and I can’t think of a better way to describe them. This past weekend, in Chico, they celebrated 20 years together and I went up with my good friend Ryan (also from the old neighborhood) to listen to their concert and reunite with the boys from the old neighborhood.

But first we drove up to Santa Cruz and stayed at another high school friend, Kai’s house, nestled in the middle of the Santa Cruz mountains.

(I love that mountain living)

(Kai and his fiance)

(Kai and Ryan played guitar for hours. I just got to sit and listen. So very nice.)

We left the next morning, early, and headed for Chico. I’ve known Ryan since I was 15 and he’s like a brother to me. We haven’t road tripped in many, many years, but I’ve decided he is the best road trip partner ever. I laughed so hard in the car I almost peed my pants.

(Ryan’s road soda)

(We saw this as we entered Chico and I had to pull over and take a picture for my dad. Go Greenbay!)

We went straight to my good friend Matt’s house, who lives in Chico and has known me for almost 20 years (16!).

And Matt took us to the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company:

(This is the glass that Ryan stole–STOLE!–from the Brewing company by putting it in my purse. I felt like such a mule!)

From there we met up with the Hips’ parade, which sounds totally dorky if you’re not a Mother Hips fan, but oh well. Basically, it was about 150 Hips fans on bikes taking a tour of Chico and hitting up all the spots that the Hips used to frequent when they all lived there. Here’s a great video someone took of Tim and Greg acoustic during the parade. I love that everyone in the crowd is singing along.

We watched Nicki Bluhm (Tim Bluhm’s wife) sing a song on the front porch of their old college house.

She’s an incredible musician herself and it was fun to stop and watch the scene for a bit.

But then we got back in the car and took a short, short hike (it was 105 degrees outside!) to see the beauty that Chico has to offer.

Then we toured the college, and it’s a beautiful campus. Really, just gorgeous.

(A creek runs through the campus. I’m jealous.)

After spending the day wandering all around the town, I feel like Chico is some hidden gem of a place. I mean, it’s kind of in the middle of nowhere, but I loved the town and the people. Chico, I will be returning.

After all this, we finally went down to the show and caught up with some of the boys from my neighborhood.

(Bruce, me, and Ryan. I just saw Bruce last summer in Portland, but I could see him every day. He’s the nicest, most down-to-earth, loving man I’ve ever known.)

(Ryan, Jack, and me. I’ve had a crush on Jack since I was 15. And I still do.)

The show was amazing in so many ways: the original bass player and drummer members came onstage and played, and then came back and for about an hour the old and new(er) bassist and drummer played all together; the crowd was filled with real Hips fans; my neighborhood boys were all there (even if I didn’t get pictures of all of them) . I don’t know how else to say this and I know it sounds cheesy, but there was just so much love in the room.

I didn’t take any pictures or video, but lots of other people did, so here’s some from the show:

I’m going to stop dorking out now, but the weekend was amazing, and I’m so thankful I was able to be there and to see old friends.

The next morning, Matt, Ryan, and I went to breakfast and then it was back on the road again.

(Ryan drove home. The 5 is a lonely stretch of highway, but good company and the Sunday New York Times makes it so much better.)

Ryan and I spoke a lot about the past 20 years during the car ride and where we thought we’d end up compared to where we actually are. We got a little philosophical and talked about what kind of knowledge is necessary in life, expectations, dreams, desires, and the reality of it all. We thought about who we were 20 years ago, me 15 and him 17, and how different those people are. My younger-self was such a brat and know it all. She’s too confident. I really want to slap her upside the head.

In the end, I’m happy with where I am at right now. My life looks a lot different than I thought it would, but it’s also a lot better than any 15 year old imagination could have come up with. The one thing that remains constant, Ryan and I both agreed, is that we were pretty lost at 15 and guess what? We still are.