It’d be a lie to say we hadn’t already invested in writing a biography for Leo, but those efforts stalled, leaving us wondering what to do. We had invested too much time and effort to let it go. Besides even when we tried to move on, it kept coming back to us. Seeing as we had little idea of what we were doing from the beginning, we’ve always worked to serve as conduits. To let the story speak for itself. We’re starting over from scratch, still a little unsure of what the story will be. This is the first draft of a new story.
Wednesdays aren’t known as seminal days but it was for us. It could have been a typical Wednesday counting hours down to the weekend and it was only a few minutes that ensured it wasn’t. We could have easily missed each other. But we had a date with destiny. As the rain clouds scattered outside, we huddled inside, hiding from work. The conversation started with the mundane. Slowly, the conversation shifted. Books were a safe topic for work friends, personal but not too personal. Then it happened. We decided we were going to write a book. Looking at what’s published, it couldn’t be that hard. More specifically, my grandfather. A man who crash landed in the South Pacific during World War 2, punched a shark and partied with cannibals. That may be a glorified remembrance of the moment or how I actually sold it. Either way Ryan was hooked. The book should be easy to sell. World War 2 stories were in vogue and with a little research the book could be printing in time for the holiday season. Looking back, agreeing to this was the easiest part of it. Neither of us had the slightest clue of how to write a book. We assumed we would need an outline and research. And a schedule wouldn’t hurt anything. We would quickly learn that we were slightly mistaken in our estimates of both time and research. Properly researching a book, as it turns out, is a time consuming process, so is actually writing it out. We would deal with those problems when we got there, but for now we were hopelessly optimistic about our chances.
I don’t know if we were really that interested in writing a book or simply excited at the avenues that could be opened up as published authors. The idea of being writers was appealing to us but there was something more to it than that. We wanted more than a life as city workers. This was our way to build a life of more. Not more stuff. More meaning. It was here that we acknowledged that Jesus changed the world when He was thirty three and our average age was thirty two. It was never too late to start building something. As Jesus was the Son of God, He had a few significant advantages over us. We quickly accepted that we were neither going to change the world when we were thirty three nor on as a dramatic scale as the Son of God. All this was said with belly laughs, which drew unnecessary attention to our loafing. Despite the laughter there was a seriousness that we kept at bay with our laughter. We wanted more from life. That was never in question but I don’t think either of us was prepared to accept that we had found more in our office lobby.
The allure of my grandfather was genuine. We weren’t looking at him and his story as nothing more than a vehicle for us to encounter our better envisioned future. He was an enigma to me. There was little I can recall about him. He mostly was a presence in my life. We spent time together but I can’t say there was a ever a bond between us beyond him being my grandfather. He was quiet. That is probably what I remember most about him. It’s also the thing that made it the hardest to know him. The problem was exacerbated by my social awkwardness as a child which can be contributed to how similar Leo and I were. We both enjoyed our own company to a great degree. People often felt like an option in life. An additional side with dinner. We said little because we weren’t entirely sure of how to exist in relationship with others. We were content by ourselves. This left a gap between us (and most of the world) that neither were much bothered by or much interested in finding a way across. So Leo was left as almost a ghost haunting my childhood. A quiet, dutiful spirit that came, ever ignoring the call to stay. The book would be a way to finally find a road between, a chance to know the man that had existed throughout my childhood.
Like that, we were off and running. What started with unbridled enthusiasm would eventually encounter life and reality, both of which would slow us down. This journey would move in fits and starts. Sometimes we were consumed by the enthusiasm of it. Other times we were weighed down by the difficulty of the task we accepted. There was rarely a middle ground. And often times we simply moved forward because we had agreed to. It seems that we mostly kept pursuing it because we had agreed to. A begrudging stubbornness drug us forward when we our wide eyed wonderment faded and hope of completing this book had been trampled by reality. We took turns on watch. Neither of us was fully responsible for setting the pace. As one of us fell behind, the other would carry the promise of it all forward. Calling the other along. Neither of us seemed particularly suited to this role, at least in this context. Our hopes generally existed in a realm alongside some of history’s greatest fiction, so they could easily capsize. Given they had little tether to reality. This would show itself to be an exhausting emotional rollercoaster over time as we quickly and regularly travelled the distance between hope and disillusionment. Our only saving grace is that we somehow always found ourselves at opposite points. Our despairs never lined up.