By M. Scott Morris/NEMS Daily Journal
I’ve crossed a barrier recently, and there’s no going back.
This latest line wasn’t as clearly marked as the one I passed in my early 30s at Sea and Suds restaurant on the beach in Gulf Shores, Ala.
The waitress attempted to explain how to use ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, horseradish and sea salt to make cocktail sauce.
“We’ve got it covered,” I said, then it happened: “I’ve been coming here since before you were born.”
That moment reverberates, even today. Something real and permanent happened, and my relationship with the world hasn’t been the same.
Lately, I’ve noticed another significant shift: I take pride in things that matter only to me.
Or they may matter to others, just not as much as I think they should.
For instance, I can’t stop patting myself on the back whenever I get a roaring fire going in the fireplace. It’s not a great accomplishment, but it’s wonderfully satisfying.
I end up saying things like, “Hey, son, what do you think about that fire?”
If he doesn’t respond quickly, I badger him with “Huh? Huh? The fire, son. What do you think?”
It’s embarrassing, really, this need for a 7-year-old’s approval.
For some reason, I get an oversized thrill from watching a blazing fire, and listening to random pops and sizzles with the steady but light whistle of the chimney drawing up the smoke.
I don’t know why I think it should be as important to others as it is to me.
Another example occurred on New Year’s Day during the drive home after visiting with my mom and stepdad in Marietta, Ga.
I had a thought: Scott, you did a masterful job of packing all that stuff into the car.
If you’d seen the luggage, the new skates and other toys for the kids, the breakable ornaments in the gift bags and the piles and piles of clothes my mother gave my wife, you wouldn’t have believed they’d all fit into the trunk.
I spent the visit with a low level of anticipatory anxiety,wondering if I’d be able to cram everything into place.
When the time came, I excelled.
This goes there; that goes here. It became a game of Tetris, and I earned bonus points. I thought I was finished, but twice my wife came up and said, “Can you find a place for this?”
During the ride, she played with her phone, one kid slept and the other watched a movie. I drove and thought I could very well be the best packer of things ever born.
I could go to the World Championships of Putting Things Into Trunks and walk away with every prize they had.
I am the Packing King.
Of course, I realized how stupid all that sounded, even inside my head on a gray, rainy day along I-20.
A man takes his pleasures where he can, I suppose.
M. SCOTT MORRIS is a Daily Journal feature writer. Contact him at (662) 678-1589 or firstname.lastname@example.org.