The first time I took a strong drink of liquor was in an anonymous hotel room on a cross-country road trip with a German and a cousin of mine who would later go on to achieve great things at West Point military academy. We were all young and dumb, but I was undoubtedly the youngest and the dumbest of our trio.
This was during the last gasps of the nineties, before the proliferation of cell phones and the miniature cameras that would emerge with them. I brought a few point-and-shoot disposable cameras with me (unwisely) and had the film developed afterward (also unwisely).
What emerged from that early state of self-awareness were some amazingly embarrassing shots of my pudgy, unattractive self addled on vodka and wearing khaki shorts, holding up a few porno mags we had scored like the rack of a twelve-point buck. Like I said, young and dumb.
The flat sizzling light of that hotel's corridors, and the low-frequency buzz of fat insects has become a centerpiece of my life. Any number of apartments or houses that I have rented have evoked the ghosts of that first illicit taste of freedom, that embrace of the low rent and the authentic.
When I was born, my parents lived in a trailer house. It wasn't a double-wide - the oil and gas boom and bust in Colorado saw to that - it was a single-wide. I took my first steps in a hotel room en route to my grandparents' house.
Since then, my family has seen boom times and bust times, upward mobility and more than our fair share of hard luck, and I am grateful for both the toughness my parents have exhibited and the second, third, and fourth chances we have seen despite our circumstances.
This Wednesday I will have the chance to go see the president. He was born in much less fortunate circumstances than I. Like Bill Clinton, he rose above his lowly station to become both the most important man in the country and an inexcusable class traitor.
Clinton, like Obama, was raised by a single mom, and went on to become both a Rhodes Scholar and possibly the single most devastating political figure who ever screwed over working mothers.
Obama, also the son of modest circumstances, has stocked his cabinet with Goldman-Sachs alumni in the wake of an historically unprecedented wholesale robbery of our economy by the same and has also murdered American civilians via drone strike without due process in a manner that George W. Bush could only dream of.
The last four years - hell, the last six or ten years - has been hard on my generation. We have seen dreams dry up, nightmares get worse, and our faith - such as it was - in our country betrayed over and over.
In a few days, I'll get to see the president. He will be speaking in the city I was born in, in a single-wide trailer, so many years ago.
I wish I could see a future that bright for any offspring I might have.