Gratitude and Humble RootsChris Fajkos, May 12, 2018 in Agent Feature
From my back deck I can see the snowcapped Carson Range, the steadfast mountain range that rises up like a granite wall, acting as a barrier keeping the harsh Nevada desert at bay. In the morning I try to catch the sun rising over its quiet, distant peaks. I try to take moments like that to reflect on where I’ve come from and where I’ve been. I think about how fortunate I am to live in such a beautiful and enchanting place. A place of such peace and tranquility.
The alpine forests, cool, crisp mountain lakes, and rugged Sierra Nevadas are a world away from 1137 Ansonia Street Oregon, Ohio. I grew up 5 blocks from a major oil refinery (Toledo Refining Company) and down the street from their container farm, which contained dozens of mansion sized, cylinder tanks filled with various noxious chemicals and petroleum. Sometimes at night the flames from the burner tower (clever name, right?) would light up the entire neighborhood as if it were dawn. In the 5th grade the refinery had a major accident that required my school, which was across the street from the container farm, to evacuate. The next day there was a semi-truck in the school’s parking lot; they we’re handing out fruit baskets to teachers and students as their way of saying “Sorry for the loud explosion and heinous odors.”
Aside from living next to this behemoth of a cancerous sore upon the Earth, the rest of Northwest Ohio was just as damaged. Lake Erie and the Maumee river were so contaminated that you were advised not to swim in, much less consume anything from it. If the natural environment wasn’t massacred, then it was the economy which suffered from years of decline from the exodus of manufacturing. Boarded up homes and businesses became an all too familiar site; blight was rampant.
Dance party in Hazel’s room? Sure. Building skyscrapers with her out of giant Legos. Absolutely. Hockey in the driveway? Shit yeah.
Why do I paint this picture of a dystopian Rust Belt existence? Because it has fundamentally framed the way in which I live here in Truckee, the way I see this place every day as I venture around it and pretty much the way I view the world in general. I feel obligated to experience this area, to jump into any and all activities that I can realistically endure. If not, why live here in the first place?
What do I do away from real estate you ask? Everything.
When it comes to mountain activities my first love is ice hockey. A huge perk to living in Truckee is that it’s one of the very few places in California where you can play the game the way it was originally played; outside in the elements. Perhaps one of the major reason I love playing hockey is because it reminds me of home. Growing up in the Northwest Ohio, where winter temps drop to subzero digits, you could catch us kids out on someone’s pond getting a game together. My dad played in the adult league and as a kid I’d wake up early on Sunday mornings to watch him play at the Tam-o-shanter. I thought he was a total bad ass, even seeing easy-going “Steady Freddy” drop the gloves once and get in a fight. My brother played in high school and even got to move the nets out of the way for the Zamboni during Toledo Storm games. Watching the Detroit Redwings in the 90’s, when they were winning Stanley Cups like they were ordering takeout, gave us much to be proud of, especially since our minor league team was their farm team. Hockey was, and continues to be, a part of my family’s way of life.
As for all the other activities that I enjoy, I tend to be more of a jack-of-all-trades and master of none. I ride, but black diamonds and back country are no fun for me. I golf, but a good day for me is ending the day with roughly the same number of balls that I started with. My mountain bike is an old Specialized stump jumper that was given to me for free by a friend moving away. I run, but a completed 5K, for me, is cause for a full on fist pump. I’m also constantly learning and pushing myself to not just get into new things but build upon the activities I already enjoy. This winter I was supposed to try skiing for the first time. I really want to be well-versed in both snowboarding and skiing, but, alas, life had different plans for me this winter and I missed out on my chance this year. Next year for sure! My average performance in these various activities is why I remind clients that they don’t have to be an expert skier or extreme mountain biker, they can simply sit back with a cold beer and enjoy the alpenglow to truly appreciate this mountain utopia.
Aside from selfish bouts of outdoor extracurricular activities, I do try to stay sharp on the guitar when I have time. Music, like some of my outdoor sports, has always been a way of centering me, narrowing my focus and drowning out the noise that emits from the more irksome aspects of life. If music truly is food for the soul, then I treat it like a buffet at the Sizzler. Punk. Motown. Jazz. Metal. Electronic. Country (the old stuff, none of the new, shitty, alternative country stuff).
In light of recent events, it has become even more apparent how lucky I am to be able to call myself a father. Having kids is the greatest social experiment you can have with your own life. There are days when they become completely overwhelming, but I catch myself, realizing that these moments don’t last forever. Their youth is not infinite. So, I must enjoy these moments while they’re still happening right in front of me. This means being present, putting down the phone, and engaging with them 1000%. Dance party in Hazel’s room? Sure. Building skyscrapers with her out of giant Legos. Absolutely. Hockey in the driveway? Shit yeah.
What do I do outside of real estate? I guess it depends, how much time to I have?