Song of Myself

Photo by Mahdiar Mahmoodi on Unsplash

Song of Myself

I contain multitudes.

In 2021, I will turn 53. I take my medications every morning. The face that looks back at me in the bathroom mirror is old. My hair is practically gone. My beard is tinged with silver. The bathroom scale is not kind. As I start my day, I retreat to my home office. I am lucky enough to do my job from home and even luckier that I have a space to call my own. It truly is my own fortress of solitude. Let me explain.

My corner of the basement is a testament to my fandoms. My comic book spinner rack is next to the desk. A gift from my brother, a framed 1973 Batman Halloween costume, is on the wall. The Blade Runner movie poster sits at the top of a bookcase filled with trade paperbacks. A Boba Fett action figure hides amongst Neil Stephenson’s Snow Crash and Lev Grossman’s The Magicians trilogy. A top from Inception and a codex from The Da Vinci Code sits on my desk next to my computer.

Behind me is a gallery wall of signed comic books, framed concert and sporting event tickets, original sketch art, a signed Robin Williams headshot, and my diplomas. There’s a framed picture of my wife and me at the World Series in St. Louis from 2013. The KISS Empire State Building poster from 1976 hangs in a nice frame above my turntable across the way.

The King James Bible says, “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”

I haven’t put away the childish things. I’m not sure I want to.

Video games have pretty much passed me by at my age, but all the rest of it: comics, movies, toys, and more are all still here. The stuff I loved at 8-years-old is still the stuff I love now, even though I’m no longer that 8-year-old child. I’m still obsessed with Star Wars. I love being surrounded by comic books. Sports are an important part of my everyday life. Reading and writing are what I do. I would say being able to write for a living is one of the best things that has ever happened to me.

Sure, I got married. Had a daughter. Became a stepfather to two more daughters. I don’t live in my parent’s basement trolling Reddit. I am, for all intent and purpose, an adult. But sometimes I come down here to my desk, and I’m a kid again. Is that wrong? I don’t think so. I certainly hope not.

There are days when I think it might not be bad to sell the twenty or so full long boxes of comics. Are they accomplishing anything in the attic? Maybe just keeping all my paperbacks company.

I guess one good reason I haven’t rid myself of these books is that my father hasn’t sold his massive silver-age comic collection. Mine pales in comparison. If he can’t stand getting rid of his childhood mementos, why should I break down?

Comics are where I learned to read. I read other things now and far fewer comics than ever before, but they still mean something to me. Sometimes I wonder, by not putting all of these things away, am I still clinging to childhood? Am I really an adult?

Maybe being an adult means I can miss out on all the superhero movies and TV shows and follow the ones that I truly care about. My daily life does not revolve around the latest Marvel or Star Wars pop culture shenanigans. It doesn’t even revolve around University of Illinois athletics (although it comes pretty close). Maybe being an adult means I can forgo reading the latest comics because I have so many not quite so old comics to get to and enjoy. Besides, there’s always a reread of trade paperback I haven’t picked up in a few years.

Pop culture is the culture today. The nerds won. We won. The dudes who were playing Dungeons and Dragons in the 80s have taken over. That’s why we get Stranger Things, Cobra Kai, and Ready Player One. They’re the adults now.

This is who I am. An adult and a child.

Walt Whitman’s grand poem, “Song of Myself,” is a long rumination on self. It is a joyous celebration of everything. One of the more well-known verses talks about contradictions.

Do I contradict myself?
 Very well then I contradict myself,
 (I am large, I contain multitudes.)

That’s me. I’m both an adult and a kid at times. I love a good sip of Jameson as much as the feeling I get after, “YOU WANTED THE BEST, YOU GOT THE BEST. THE HOTTEST BAND IN THE WORLD…KISS!” I contradict myself. I contain multitudes.

This brings me to “The Multiverse,” a new weekly (fingers crossed) column set in a Medium publication. I’m going to explore, celebrate, analyze, and criticize today’s pop culture and maybe yesterday, too. It won’t all be lightsabers and warp drives. I’ll dive into professional and college sports at times, and I’ll reflect on my own life and how it relates to the pop culture I enjoy.

Please sit and stay awhile as I examine all the nerdy and not-so-nerdy things that make me smile. Maybe I’ll find the adult in the kid in me along the way.

Or maybe the other way around.