I met you in the rain on the last day of 1972 – m4w (Old State House)
I met you in the rain on the last day of 1972, the same day I resolved to kill myself.
One week prior, at the behest of Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger, I’d flown four B-52 sorties over Hanoi. I dropped forty-eight bombs. How many homes I destroyed, how many lives I ended, I’ll never know. But in the eyes of my superiors, I had served my country honorably, and I was thusly discharged with such distinction.
And so on the morning of that New Year’s Eve, I found myself in a barren studio apartment on Beacon and Hereford with a fifth of Tennessee rye and the pang of shame permeating the recesses of my soul. When the bottle was empty, I made for the door and vowed, upon returning, that I would retrieve the Smith & Wesson Model 15 from the closet and give myself the discharge I deserved.
I walked for hours. I looped around the Fenway before snaking back past Symphony Hall and up to Trinity Church. Then I roamed through the Common, scaled the hill with its golden dome, and meandered into that charming labyrinth divided by Hanover Street. By the time I reached the waterfront, a charcoal sky had opened and a drizzle became a shower. That shower soon gave way to a deluge. While the other pedestrians darted for awnings and lobbies, I trudged into the rain. I suppose I thought, or rather hoped, that it might wash away the patina of guilt that had coagulated around my heart. It didn’t, of course, so I started back to the apartment.
And then I saw you.
1. Took a lovely young lady Go-cart racing and followed it up with some laser tag. We ended up sitting on a hill drinking while the sunset, talking, making out for what seemed like hours.
2. To the airport, before the draconian days of the TSA and shoe-removal. I was a poor college student and had a date with a hot visual arts student with really short black hair and an ass you could bounce a quarter on. I had no money and was challenged to think of something different and creative. The airport was free. We people-watched, made up back stories for them, made up dialogues between people from far away, played spot-the-spy (every major airport must have at least one spy in it at all times. It’s a rule, I think). We walked up to those limo guys holding signs and pretended to be who they were looking for (“Hi we’re the Sniths. Oh, you’re looking for the Smiths. Never mind”) And when we were pretending to be spies, I told her our cover was blown and to follow my lead and kissed her. For a guy whose only exposure to anything smooth is a jar of Skippy, I’m still proud of that one. Then we went and watched planes take off and land, Wayne’s World style. We went on a few more dates, but nothing ever happened. Not even an under-the-shirt, over-the-bra squeeze. But that was still the best date I’ve ever been on.
#1. A kiss after a long day exploring.
"Everyday whether or not we have mail this mail man always stops to see my dog who is only 9 months old. He always gets over looked as a dangerous or unapproachable dog, Maybe cause he’s big i am not sure. He doesn’t bark at them or growl ( Maybe the odd couple times he barks at people but which dog doesn’t ) But this guy here always makes an effort to get off his bike to give him a hug and a pat! "
1. “Don’t look at the calendar. Just keep celebrating every day.”
2. Years go by in the blink of an eye. Don’t marry young. Live your life. Go places. Do things. If you have the means or not. Pack a bag and go wherever you can afford to go. While you have no dependents, don’t buy stuff. Any stuff. See the world. Look through travel magazines and pick a spot. GO!
3. Don’t take life so seriously. Even if things seem dark and hopeless, try to laugh at how ridiculous life is.
4. A true friend will come running if you call them at 2am; everyone else is just an acquaintance.
5. The most important person in your life is the person who agreed to share their life with you. Treat them as such.
6. Children grow up way too fast. Make the most of the time you have with them.
7. Nobody ever dies wishing they had worked more… Work hard, but don’t prioritize work over family, friends, or even yourself.
8. You might live a long life, or you might live a short one – who knows. But either way, trust me when I say that you’re going to wish you took better care of yourself in your youth.
Have you ever heard of The Curse of the Traveler?
An old vagabond in his 60s told me about it over a beer in Central America, goes something like this: The more places you see, the more things you see that appeal to you, but no one place has them all. In fact, each place has a smaller and smaller percentage of the things you love, the more things you see. It drives you, even subconsciously, to keep looking, for a place not that’s perfect (we all know there’s no Shangri-La), but just for a place that’s “just right for you.” But the curse is that the odds of finding “just right” get smaller, not larger, the more you experience. So you keep looking even more, but it always gets worse the more you see. This is Part A of the Curse.
Part B is relationships. The more you travel, the more numerous and profoundly varied the relationships you will have. But the more people you meet, the more diffused your time is with any of them. Since all these people can’t travel with you, it becomes more and more difficult to cultivate long term relationships the more you travel. Yet you keep traveling, and keep meeting amazing people, so it feels fulfilling, but eventually, you miss them all, and many have all but forgotten who you are. And then you make up for it by staying put somewhere long enough to develop roots and cultivate stronger relationships, but these people will never know what you know or see what you’ve seen, and you will always feel a tinge of loneliness, and you will want to tell your stories just a little bit more than they will want to hear them. The reason this is part of the Curse is that it gets worse the more you travel, yet travel seems to be a cure for a while.
None of this is to suggest that one should ever reduce travel. It’s just a warning to young Travelers, to expect, as part of the price, a rich life tinged with a bit of sadness and loneliness, and angst that’s like the same nostalgia everyone feels for special parts of their past, except multiplied by a thousand.