An adventure is an inconvenience rightly considered" 
G.K. Chesterton
my first blizzard
I pulled the moving truck into the apartment complex that would be my future home close to ten o'clock that evening. I yawned and shook my head trying to get my eyes to focus, I knew I still had too much to do before I could sleep. I had been up and driving since 3 o'clock the night before. Nineteen hours of driving a moving truck had taken its toll on my exhausted body.  

I stepped out of the truck, feeling the snow crunch beneath my feet. I pulled my hood of my jacket over my head, shocked at the cold. It was the dead of February in Chicago and this southern boy had never felt negative temperatures before. I went to unlock the rolling door of the truck to pull out the mattress so we could sleep before moving the rest of the stuff in.

The wind kicked up and I instantly got homesick, thinking back to the state that had been my home for the last twenty five years. "What have I gotten myself into?" I asked aloud, each breath turning into vapor and then rapidly disappearing in the rising wind.


A flag flying for losers, somewhere in the heavens.
Last Saturday I got to go see my favorite band from my teenage years on their reunion tour. Everyone who knows me even a little bit knows that my favorite band is Five Iron Frenzy.

I drove into the city, fighting terrible traffic and awful parking and saw that even two hours before the doors were scheduled to open there was a line wrapped nearly around the block. 

"Not bad for a band that hasn't toured since 2003." I thought. I had come there alone, but as I stood in line I found this group of strangers to be more talkative than anyone I had met since moving to Chicago. 

I met a guy that had flown in from Washington DC alone just for the show. I met a guy who had been to every ne of their shows since they had gotten back together. I met more than a few people that were very socially awkward in most situations that seemed one hundred percent at ease in this crowd. 

As the show started I noticed that the singer could have dropped out at any moment and the crowd would still sing every single word to every single song. In fact many times I difficultly hearing him over the crowd. 

No one seemed to be nudging each other to say how lame the show was, how they had come ironically. Everyone was sincerely enjoying themselves, accepting each other, being genuine.

Five Iron has been known for drawing these crowds. People on the other side of cool, but genuine, real, sincere. Three things that "cool" people would never be as they would immediately lose "cool" status.

So what draws this group together? It's more than just the music.

You find the answer in the lyrics of their song Suckerpunch: "A song sung for underdogs, for all the left out, a flag flying for losers somewhere in the heavens, the God of everlasting comfort believes in me, loved me when I was faithless He still died for me."

The answer is simple. Acceptance. That night it didn't matter if you were cool enough. It didn't matter if you had the right clothes, attitude, piercings, swag. Everyone simply accepted each other, ready to have fun. No judging. Couldn't dance? have fun anyway. It was beautiful. 

It was just a show. It was more.

It was beautiful.

When you're a kid all you want is to fit in. Be like everyone else. Have whatever shirt or hat or jeans that make you cool. All you want is to not be the weirdo, the oddball, the one that talks funny, dresses funny, smells funny.

Y'know the kids toy with the shapes that slide into perfect cutouts? Everyone says the misfits are like square pegs trying to slide into round holes. I've always felt like more like a shape that came from a different set. Never really fitting in anywhere.

I come from a very small town, no stoplights, no gas stations, no bowling alleys. In fact the last census put my hometown at a population of 265. I didn't fit in there. I may have the blood of a farmer running through my veins but not the soul of one. I was always restless. Hungry for adventure, Ready for more. I found the thought processes of most of my friends to be confusing. Their biggest goals in life were 1. Find a job 2. Find a wife 3. Buy a house 4. Have some kids.  I always found that boring, routine, not what I wanted. 

I now live in the suburbs of America's "Second City." A city with a population of 2,707,120. I don't fit in here. My southern roots betray me. When someone bumps into me I say "Excuse me" which is met with angry stares. I try to be polite to people I've just met which is confusing to most, and they wonder why I'm even talking to them. People here are cut off, solitary, alone in a crowd. My friends mostly live fast lives of parties and closed off social circles and cliques that I feel out of place in. I haven't heard of their obscure favorite bands and probably wouldn't like them even if I had.

To a guy like me I find living in "community" to be very difficult. It's foreign to my nature. I've always felt like a burden, like when people do hang out with me it's out of pity and eventually they'll get tired of me, so I tend to disappear from people's lives before they disappear from mine. This opening up to another is tremendously difficult. I don't like it. As the former nerdy kid I'm always waiting for the insult, for someone to turn around and ask "What are you doing here? Who even invited you?" And I'm betting I'm not alone in feeling this way.

Here's the hard part: We were built for community. Human Beings do best in groups. To quote the bible "As iron sharpens iron so does one man sharpen another." We are best with each other. "One can put a thousand to flight, two can put ten thousand to flight." In fact that is why we Christians take communion. To build community with each other. To say to one another we need this sacrifice Christ made for us. We need his body. We need his blood.

How does a misfit live in community with others? How does the outcast open themselves up?

If you have an answer or just desire community. Not judging, no harsh words. Leave your story in the comments, leave a response or just have a conversation. Let's write community for misfits 101.

One of the regrets I have is my seeming inability to take pictures. When a moment occurs my tendency is to soak it up like a sponge, to embrace, to enjoy, to fully live in that moment.  When living like this you rarely stop and think, I should take a picture of this. I need to pull myself out of this moment and document it.

As it is, in the past nine years I've lived in ten different houses/apartments. Lived in eight different towns in two states. I've been to Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. I've built amazing relationships, lost others. Completely changed my vocation. Went from living in a town of 265 people to the suburbs of one of the major cities in America. When I get nostalgic and want to look at pictures or remember people from all the places I've been, I find I have to rely on my memories, and my memory proves to be an unreliable narrator.  

I put events out of order. Over dramatize situations, forget about others. Ignore wounds I've caused, play up wounds I've received. 

Our life, this story we're telling is pretty much all get. This tale we're telling. We have to make memories, do things that are worth re-telling. 

One of my favorite thing to do is sit around a table with good friends and start telling stories, everyone trying to top the other, it gets ridiculous and we laugh until our stomachs hurt and we get louder and more raucous. Telling our tales spinning yarns all things we've told a hundred times, getting bigger and more ridiculous as we re-tell it.

In his great book Storyline Donald Miller asks if you were able to attend your own funeral what would be most important to you? Would it be how much money you left, or how much television you watched? Or rather would it be relationships, how we effected the never effect while staying safe.

Anyways, I'm back to blogging. I hope to tell true stories, to relate this life to yours as you relate to mine. Maybe post pictures relating to these stories if I can ever remember to take them...