Thoughts on Exploring, and Also Maybe PB&J Could Get You a Girlfriend (Theoretically)

I have been aware of the word “explore” since at least 7th grade. Before that I make no guarantees, except I guarantee that I wore so much neon in 5th grade that I became an independent source of long-wave radiation and so it’s mostly my fault that Andre Agassi’s hair fell out.

Anyhow, I may have learned the word “explore” in 7th grade when we had this class called “Exploratory,” the idea being that we were supposed to “explore” different electives via six-week mini courses. I “explored” wood shop, because I was super not manly, which in my small town was a real liability, so I felt like I needed to learn to wield power tools as a means of increasing my manliness (it is well known that lathes and planers spontaneously produce facial hair in inverse proportion to the amount of sawdust they create). I also inexplicably “explored” drama, which canceled out any manliness I may have gained from wood shop, and also got me beat up once.

Lastly, I “explored” Spanish, largely because the teacher Ms Paine was super cute and I thought maybe we could grab some PB&J sandwiches at my place after class, as long as my mom was home, because I wasn’t allowed to have girls over when Mom wasn’t home, and also I didn’t know how to make PB&J sandwiches.

In any case, even though me and Ms Paine didn’t work out (she had a boyfriend who had already completed puberty, which was hard for me to compete with), I do still like to explore a little. Maybe that’s partially why I grew up and became a diplomat and undertook what I anticipated would be a life of travel and exploration. That said, I was probably a bit naive to assume that one must travel to explore. Nay, exploring merely means having one’s eyes open, and that’s all.

Sometimes when you have your eyes open, you see things you should never have to see, like this moth that is roughly the size of a Howitzer. This moth eats toddlers for breakfast and dachshunds for lunch. It flosses its fangs with the hair of Amelia Earhart (it ate her airplane in midair 80 years ago, and that’s what happened to her. I am telling you this is true). I put my hand close to this moth to prove my moxie — what is not pictured though is the aftermath. Now I only have nine fingers.

Savannah played her viola in a real recording studio. There was only one chair. I invited Shannon to sit in the chair and I would stand like a gentleman. But she said she wanted to stand. Fifteen years ago I would’ve felt conflicted about that situation, but I’ve been with Shannon a long time now. So I was just like, “OK cool, cuz my back hurts anyway,” and I sat down and felt really good about myself.

One of my favorite things is watching Savannah grow up. Sometimes we go driving, and now she’s behind the wheel. We go through the Chik-Fil-A drive thru and I hand her my credit card, and as she passes it through the window and collects our shakes I think to myself, “I think she’s ready for this whole life thing.”

Sometimes when your eyes are open you see other people with their eyes closed. That’s a precious thing. Grace used to be a little sprite of a child, grunting and scampering across the floor on her hands and knees to greet me when I got home from work. Then, suddenly, she got longer and thinner, and also got a laptop somehow, I’m not sure who paid for that. Now there are a lot of dreams inside that sleepy head. She’s going to dream out loud pretty soon. She’s going to hear them and chase them down, exploring all the way down the road until I can’t see her anymore. I’ve got to keep my eyes open or else I might miss it.