Saturday, July 24, 2010

Black And White Memories

While I like to think of myself as a fairly hardy soul (not to be confused with being a Hardy Boy although I do wonder what ever happened to Joe and Frank, both of whom seem to have Da-Do-Run-Run away from being TV stars), I am prone from time-to-time to complain, to gripe and to bitch about one thing or another. Although experience has taught me repeatedly that the particular thing or event that has me feeling so aggrieved is likely to be - in the larger scheme of things - not too much of anything at all, it does not short-circuit the process of me bitching about it.

Yesterday, in the span of just a few hours, I was reminded twice of what a whiny bag I actually am and what a lucky S.O.B. as well. For reasons not entirely clear to me, in October my high school classmates (including me) are assembling for our 25th reunion. Perhaps someone is motivated by the chance to see everyone else again before all of us die or some such thing. While I saw a fair number of my fellow alums with regularity in the years immediately after we graduated high school - because Lee's parents still lived in that big ranch house on Cooper Road and she had a kitchen table ideally suited for both Quarters and Mexican - in the past twenty years I could likely count the ones I have seen on the fingers of both hands. Nevertheless, as we appear to be a group of 40-somethings hip-deep in the Facebook hoopla, a number of us who presumably had lost contact with one another have connected anew over the course of this past year. Voila! Reunion time.

It was in the spirit of re-established connections that I had a chance to chat yesterday via e-mail with one of my classmates who was (and likely is still) always a first-class human about another member of our little tribe with whom she was very good friends and about whom I had not heard one word in the past quarter-century. I found out that unfortunately the classmate about whom I had inquired has endured a really, really tough road since we were all a bunch of dumb ass high school students. And while what she has endured is not something that I would wish on anyone the fact that it has been foisted upon a young woman who never did me - or anyone who I am aware of - a bad turn made the story even sadder for me to hear. (It is no doubt at this point in the narrative that someone reading this who fancies himself or herself a religious person will chime in with, "God never gives us more than we can handle." I do not intend to write it so if that is you - and that is what you were thinking right there - the F*** U reply is implied.)

Last evening the Missus and me spent a bit of time with her aunt and uncle. I have had the pleasure of knowing this dynamic duo for the past twenty years. They remind me very much of my own aunt and uncle, Dot and Jim. Up until the time that Aunt Dot died several years ago, I never thought of them as two separate people. They were never "Aunt Dot" and "Uncle Jim". Rather they were one unit with one name, "AuntDotandUncleJim." So it is with Margaret's Auntie Ann and Junior (it took me years to learn that Junior's given name is Angelo b/c everyone calls him "Junior" or "Jun"). I never think of one without thinking of the other. They too are a singular, dynamic organism - "AuntieAnn&Junior."

Junior is himself waist-deep in a rough patch these days, battling hard against a myriad of health issues. We spent a bit of time with the two of them last night watching the first few innings of the Yankees game. It was nice to see A.J. Burnett actually look like a Major League pitcher. It was nicer still to spend a bit of time in the company of the two of them. We went there in part to provide a bit of comfort to them in what has been an exceptionally difficult time for them - and again one of those "let me put my foot on the throats of those who do not deserve it" events that makes it hard for me to suppress the laugh out loud reflex at those among us who believe blithely and blindly in the Almighty - but I left their home feeling as if I had gotten better than I had given.

I have a Post-It on my computer at work of a line written by Bernard Malamud that reads, "Without heroes we are all plain people and don't know how far we can go." Today, tomorrow and all the tomorrows to come after it, every time I think I cannot go any further on up a particular road, I shall rewind the tape in my mind's eye to yesterday. And I shall stop bitching and keep moving. For the soul, the soul always yearns.

-AK

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