“IT MUST BE TWENTY YEARS AGO…” At my age most things are that, or more. Twenty years seems like the blinking of the proverbial eye.
1994? Why, I have stuff in the refrigerator older than that. The old saying goes that “Time flies when you’re having fun.” Trust me – it flies even when you aren’t having fun. It just flies – faster with each passing year.
It seems that it was just the day before yesterday when I was in high school, but I attended my fiftieth class reunion this summer. When did I get old? Or was I always this age, but blind to it?
I’m not complaining mind you. I wouldn’t want to be a teenager again for all the silicon in San Jose. I wouldn’t mind being thirty years old again though. At thirty you are still in relatively good shape physically, but you are a better judge as to how the world works.
Thirty for me was in 1976 – the American Bicentennial year. There were fabulous celebrations all over the country. Personally, I had purchased a house, had a great girl friend, and I was doing some fun stage work. I was also trying to care for my parents. I didn’t have many celebrations that year.
In 1976 my father was dying and my mother was lost in it all and neglecting her own heath, her diabetes. My father died a few days before Thanksgiving. He was 65.
The house became very quiet.
I was thirty.
The next two years are a blur. In those two years; I lost my job and got a new one, I watched my mother deteriorate until she needed care I could not give her, I saw the girl friend close her door, and I sold the house. It was a house that had never been more than a way station. It was never a home.
I was thirty. I felt ancient.
I sold the house and drove as far west as I could go without falling into the ocean. I knew no one, had no job, no address, and no possessions other than what was in the back of my car. I arrived in California the week before Christmas. On Christmas Day I went to the beach. I froze my ass off, but it was a symbolic gesture. Looking back I’m not sure what it symbolized, but it sure wasn’t practical.
I think that the human body plays tricks on us as we age. It tinkers with our memories. I can give you incredible details about what I did during those first few days in California, but I have to stop and think to tell you what I had for lunch yesterday. But, as I think about it now, yesterday’s lunch was not very memorable. Perhaps the body knows what it is doing: remember what is meaningful and just trash the other stuff.
As I look back on it, 1976 was not a very good year for me, but it was the kind of year that made the next two years possible, vital even. Without my 1976 the years that followed could very easily have made yesterday’s lunch into a memorable event. One dot pointed the way to the next one until the picture became clear.
Thank you for allowing me to wallow about in this puddle of personal nostalgia.
Now – Carry on and do something to make us all laugh.