“There are places I remember
All my life, though some have changed
Some forever, not for better
Some have gone, and some remain
All these places have their meanings
With lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life, I’ve loved them all…”
In My Life
— Paul McCartney and John Lennon
I think of all the people I’ve been honored to enjoy throughout my remarkable past and hopefully notable future, and I miss them. The feeling is so intense it hurts. I want to hug them, hearing their voices as I see their faces forming the words they speak to me. I want to kiss their cheeks, hold them close, and make sure they know how much they truly mean to me.
Of course, those who have passed I long for. Those lost yet still loved will again be found. Yet, the living tug upon my soul with growing intensity. The living are within reach; those departed decades hence await my passing into their realm. Those remaining with me in this dimension deserve more energy. Distance isn’t measured by miles when technology renders your voice a few keystrokes away. Presence is often only measured in memories.
Youth is where we long to return when age 60 looms. The present lives a heartbeat, while the past grows ever distant. We yearn for our lost carefree abandon, unaware we would later look upon those decades ago with nostalgic mysticism. Musical notes first heard in childhood become beloved echoes in time. When I hear Judy Collins sing “to say I love you right out loud” while soaring through the lofty notes of Both Sides Now, I’m once again riding in Mom’s brand-new 1969 Mustang listening to KOY-AM radio out of Phoenix. Bill Heywood’s calm voice and acidic humor providing intro to the late 60s cool tunes as we cruised down the highway to Florence from Tempe in our transition from big city to small prison town. A lively eight-year-old who loved my mother and father and brothers, wondering what was so novel about voicing this fact.
Then I’m flung into my testosterone-laden teens when Linda Ronstadt belts out Try Me Again from the living room turntable, my love for her illustrated by the poster upon my bedroom door. Henry bangs on the door, rousting me from lovemaking dreams with my lady rocker. He’s driven 1,000 miles from Dallas to see me, and my sleep can go to hell. Wake up and smell the friendship, you sleepy slacker. My last dreamy thoughts are of his sister, whom I had adored since they were neighbors. I awaken to open the door to my bedraggled friend, humping up the steps with the aid of his crutches. He broke his leg in freshman Physical Ed a few years hence as I sat helpless, watching him bend impossibly-bassackwards in a poorly-officiated wrestling match between two gangly teenagers who had no business being entwined upon the mat. The SNAP! of that horrendous compound fracture of Hans’ tibia echoed off the 60-year-old gymnasium’s walls as loudly as if it was three feet away, which it was. I asked if he wanted me to punch him so hard as to knock him senseless. He begged me YES! I couldn’t. Mr. DimWatt PE Teacher shooed me away before I could squelch my beloved buddy’s screaming agony with a loving but well-placed fist to the temple. I shudder contemplating the agony he endured, wishing I could have delayed the excruciating pain that incident caused. I would have gladly traded places with him, but all I could do was watch helplessly as medics carried him away, bellowing in delirious agony. I spent every day at his bedside when he returned home. He stole my intended girlfriend during his recovery, but I forgave him. She eventually eluded integrity anyway. Now, every time I see his limp, I wince in memory of that moment in time, but I love him even stronger in respect for the man he is today. He’s my role model, second only to Dad. (Hans will surely bust me in the nose for saying this. He’s annoyingly humble, another of his many endearing traits.)
Reality sucks when I’m brought back to today. I hear this Beatles tune on YouTube as I write, my dream of teenaged bliss blasted away as 20-teens technology of yesteryear is over-shadowed by the reality of middle age. My love of many types of music takes me back to Dad, my only hero. Hans is my closest friend. Next to Roger. It would be fun if we could all get together again, but we seem to miss that three-way connection. I see them both occasionally, but not together since those magical 70s when the Eagles rocked anew and our teenaged lives briefly intertwined.
Dad was a quiet yet gifted musician, teaching me to appreciate intriguing melodies and enticing lyrics. His relaxing yet powerful tenor voice led me back to the hobo’s life, train tracksters and sad queen’s tales, encompassing both haunting folk songs of Olde England and early Appalachia. His incredibly gifted classical guitar amazed me, but I still lack the ability to create music. My best instrument is the radio.
* * *
Finally, the long-dreamt birth of my publishing company is here.
I loaned myself a few grand to get this ball rolling. It arrived on the 15th anniversary of my arrival in Oregon. To all of those who love me for whatever weird reason you have, look forward to my first book in a month or so.
Thanks for hanging in there. Oh and Hans, you forgot the fucking tent. And Roger, yeah the book will be out soon. Bank on it, and thanks for reminding me of basic grammatical basics and how to remain a somewhat-honest artist.