I’m a local boy. I grew up here in Las Vegas and I am a proud graduate of Western High School, class of 1995. Las Vegas wasn’t nearly as big then as it is now. In fact, my freshman year of high school was exciting because 3 high schools opened that year, Cimarron-Memorial, Cheyenne, and Green Valley. It had been some time since a new high school opened in Las Vegas and everybody was excited to see the design of these 3 schools. Of course, the design remained the same for the next 20 years or so and now most of the schools in Las Vegas look the same, but that’s not the purpose of this post.
Back at Western we had a unique identity. We were one of the first schools to open in Las Vegas. We had a great rivalry with Clark High School. The two schools even shared accorded neutral territory. The rivalry between Western and Clark was fierce, but people from both sides claimed Macayo’s on Charleston as their own, and we loved it so much that the rivalry didn’t spill over when kids from both schools were there. Macayo’s was neutral territory, and to a lesser extent so was Taco Bell on Charleston and Decatur.
I carry that identity with me around to this day. In fact, just the other day I met somebody who graduated from Western in the class of 1994, one year before me. I’m quite certain that he used to beat me up in high school (most kids did, I was very low on the totem pole), but he shook my hand like a long lost friend. Once we found out that we both went to Western at the same time, we knew we shared a common history, and that is what finding your tribe is all about.
I wasn’t the most popular kid in high school. In fact, I’m pretty sure I was the least popular kid in high school. My lunch money probably financed the meals of at least 10 separate bullies on campus, and the restaurants around the school owe me a debt of gratitude for keeping them in business by sending the bullies their way (back then we had open lunch and we could leave campus at lunch time). In a desperate attempt to fit in I joined a sport, and hence my high school track and cross country career started. I wasn’t very athletic. As I’ve mentioned before, my crowning athletic achievement to this day is still kicking the winning home run in the 3rd grade kickball championships at Ronzone Elementary School. I probably still hold the record as the slowest letterman in all of Western High School’s decorated history, but I did letter. I was even misguided enough to believe that having a letterman jacket would mean I wouldn’t get picked on anymore. So I saved up my money and I bought one. It didn’t work, but I still have the letterman jacket to this day. It’s sitting on the back of my chair right now still waiting to fulfill my high school dream of having a female wear it as a symbol of our relationship. What can I say, I’m old fashioned.
You’re probably thinking why I liked my tribe so much when they treated me so poorly. Well, that’s the funny thing about a tribe. You never know when they’ll have your back. As soon as we boarded the bus to go to a track meet it seemed that my status changed. I remember on at least two occasions kids from different schools started in on me and my Western teammates came to my rescue. I liken it to having a little brother. I can pick on my little brother, you cannot.
I will always be a part of the Western Warriors tribe, and because we so strongly associated with it, I must stop and watch The Warriors whenever it’s on TV.
Finding your tribe is important. If I had to do it again I’d prefer to find a tribe that didn’t give me such a hard time when I was a kid. That’s the beauty of it, though. We can learn from our past and use it to improve our future. Case in point, I have found a new tribe, and I love being a part of this tribe. We meet every Tuesday at 6:00pm and head out for a run (I am of course referring to the RRRC group run hosted at both stores). Sometimes I join them on a Monday or Wednesday night and go for a trail run. I usually join them on Saturday and go for a long run with them as well.
Do you know what the best thing about my tribe is? We have never told anybody they can’t join us! We love meeting new people and we love making new friends. We have one thing in common, as runners we each share the trial of miles, and miles of trials. It’s my safe place, it’s my happy place, and I love being a part of this tribe.
Recently I got an email from the mother of one of our regular runners. She expressed how happy she was that her daughter had found her tribe here in Las Vegas. I was touched that she reached out to me and shared this with me. Moments like that stand out and make me realize that at the end of the day perhaps my good actions really do outweigh my bad ones. In fact, that email is the inspiration for this blog post.
We feel better as people when we belong, when we find our tribe. Our tribe is currently accepting new members (we always will be), so if you ever need a place to fit in, come hang out with us. Sometimes we “just want to go where everybody knows our name.” Give us a couple of weeks, and we’ll be that place for you!
Find your tribe, and when you do, love them hard! It will be worth it!