After 21 years, there are a few things that define who I am, and many things that have turned me into who I am. Throughout my life I have developed passions and lost passions, made friends and lost friends, won some and lost some, and all of these choices have led to the man that I am today. Here are a few stories from my first 18 years.
I was born in 1995 and spent my first two years in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. Although I have no memories from there, I still bear three scars on my back from when my older brother pushed me down our staircase. When I was two, my family and I moved to Greendale, which I continue to call home.
My first memory came from my Preschool, which I attended at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Franklin. I vividly remember my first kiss. It was quite the romance story; there was a girl named Trisha in my class who I had a crush on, and I just went for it. It was recess and we were both on the slide and I asked if she wanted to kiss, and she said, “Sure!”. It was a fond memory and my first memory.
After Preschool, I moved on to Elementary School at Highland View in Greendale. Most of my memories from Elementary School came from the time I spent outside with my neighbors, the Villas. Pancho, Isaac, and Juan moved across the street from me and we shared a love for bikes. The four of us rode bikes for hours, and when we got bored of that we played other games with the kids in our neighborhood. These childhood games are where I learned the value of diversity and learned to love people no matter what their background is. My Mom used to call our neighborhood ‘The Melting Pot’. In our predominantly White village of Greendale, our street brought together many cultures into one close-knit community. Elementary School is also the time that I started to play baseball, basketball and golf. Baseball ended after a couple of years because of my perpetual fear of the ball, basketball ended (despite my 99th percentile height) because I felt no love for the game, but golf was always a gift of mine that I carried past Elementary School.
To say I was an awkward and out of place kid during my Middle School days would be an understatement. I was always the tallest in my grade, but ceaseless growing upwards with zero growing outwards made an already awkward looking introvert, into a tremendously gangly string bean version of McLovin. I don’t have too many fond memories of Middle School, or many memories at all. Maybe my subconscious decided it best that I don’t have to suffer with the memories of that embarrassing phase for the rest of my life. One thing that I do remember, though, is that life was so simple. The stresses I worry about today were non-existent. The worries that keep me awake at night were mythical to me when I was younger: life purpose, work stress, mental health, physical health, relationships, and balance of class/work/social life were all things that I gave zero thought to until late in High School through today. Times were simpler, and that’s the beauty of being young with blissful ignorance.
I finally started growing into myself mentally and physically in High School. I met my best friends once High School started, people who my best memories come from. Freshman year I met Aleks, Brady, and Noah. Those three guys were and still are three of my best friends, we did everything together. I have to thank these guys for all they have done for me.
To Aleks: For you I have the most to thank, you introduced me to my biggest life passion. You made me love soccer, a sport I despised until you put a ball at my feet. I don’t know who I would be without my love for the Beautiful Game.
To Noah: You got me out of my shell. You were my first friend in High School and you’re the reason why I had the friends that I had. You also taught me to get out of my comfort zone, I’d incriminate us if I wrote down some of the things we did that broke me out of my comfort zone, but I can’t thank you enough for those memories.
To Brady: You taught me to listen. You were always the best listener. If I ever needed to vent, you were there with open ears. I think I spent more time with you in High School than I did with anyone else. Between school, golf, and work, I’m surprised we didn’t get sick of each other.
To all three of you: Thank you for providing me with some of my best life memories and for always having each others’ backs.
High school provided me with my best competitive memories. I wouldn’t say that I peaked in High School, but I do still take pride in what I accomplished, especially in golf. My best life memory was the entire golf season my senior year. The season started out with our preseason tournament that we played in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. This is also where Coach Wenger announced that he was retiring at the end of the year. Coach Wenger also informed us that he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. When the team heard about this, we knew we had to make this a season he would never forget. As individual as the sport of golf is, I’ve never felt the sort of bond between teammates as I did with that team. We weren’t playing for ourselves, we weren’t playing for scholarships, we were playing for Coach Wenger. During that season we won every conference meet we competed in, and we were the first Greendale team to make it to state in almost 50 years. We did it for Coach Wenger. The excitement I saw in his eyes when we won sectionals and qualified for state will be a sight I’ll never forget; it was the epitome of what pride looks like. At state, Coach Wenger made sure we felt no pressure, “we made it here and that’s all that matters, just go out there and have fun”, he told us. After not being ranked in the top 25 all season, we took 6th at State and made Coach Wenger proud, our only goal for the season. Coach Wenger’s happiness was my best and final memory from High School.
Finally moved out. College was something I had looked forward to for a long time. As much as I love my family, I needed my space and a chance to fully grow into myself without the sometimes overprotectiveness of my Mom (I love you, Mom). I chose to attend UW-Whitewater for no real reason at all. It was easy to get into, cheap, far enough from home but still pretty close, and it wasn’t Greendale. It took a couple of months to find friends who I knew I truly connected with, but all it took was FIFA 14. I met Pat and Tyler because of our common love for nerding out and playing video games for hours at a time. Neither of them had a speck of interest in soccer until I force fed it to them. My best college memories were from freshman year in Pat’s room with Tyler. We’d play Xbox and listen to music for hours at a time, it was so beautifully simple. We developed an unbreakable bond that I’ll cherish forever.
It’s these stories that make me who I am. It’s the small interactions with new people that changed my life forever. Every minuscule choice I’ve made has led to who I am and the things I value. The chances I’ve taken, the things I’ve neglected, the mistakes I’ve made, the people I’ve loved, the people I’ve left. Everyone has memories from their childhood that show why they are the person they are, and here were just a few of mine.