Thursday, August 19, 2010

Direction and Pace

One of the residual effects of all of the work around the house that the Missus and I did on Sunday is that - for present purposes at least - the treadmill in the spare room upstairs (we call that room "the office" - which is such a stretch that it actually tests the definitional limits of the word euphemism) has now been re-directed. For most of its life it has been facing back-to-front (although I think it did have a brief period in which it faced front-to-back). Now - or at least for the time being - it faces left-to-right. Quick, we will do this by show of hands: right now, who while reading this is asking him/herself, "Who the F*** cares?"

Sorry, having I realized that I cannot type with only my left hand while holding my right one aloft, allow me to continue. The neat thing about the treadmill's new position is not how it faces but what it faces. We have in our spare room upstairs along the right wall a series of floor to almost ceiling shelves, which are home principally to my audience-created-recordings collection of various and sundry Springsteen shows. Gun to my head I know not how many I have although I do know that once I passed the 250 mark I simply stopped counting. Chances are if you are looking for a particular show, I have it. Actually, chances are even if you are not looking for it, I have it. My possession of it remains the same after all. It is simply your level of interest in it that changes.

Apparently for several years now Margaret, Suzanne and Rob have housed other items on the shelves in the spare room. I am embarrassed to admit though not surprised to acknowledge inasmuch as I live most of my life as my alter ego Captain Obtuse that I had never really noticed what else was on those shelves until Sunday afternoon. It was then that for the first time I ran on the right wall-facing treadmill.

There is a shelf devoted to a combination of Yankees/Buffs paraphernalia, which includes among its number an item I had forgotten I owned. Several years ago now, when my friend Gracie was still working with me at the Firm, her mother Helen sent her to work one day with a present for me. Helen had apparently signed up for a department store credit card at a local mall on a day that the "hook" to get applicants to sign on the dotted line was a Derek Jeter bobble head doll. Helen wanted the card and knowing from Gracie that I am a Yankees fan, accepted the bobble head for the sole purpose of giving it to me. In the interests of full disclosure, the bobble head in question bears as much resemblance to Derek Jeter as this guy does. But what this particular piece of artwork lacks in actual art it more than makes up for in sentiment.

I presume that the entire time the treadmill has been in the spare room upstairs - and the Jeter bobble head has been located on a nearby shelf - that the bobble head has moved much like a chicken on speed at feeding time. Having only just become aware of the phenomenon within the past couple of days, I must confess that it really helps pass the time on the treadmill (and provide the impetus to continue running at a fast pace) to watch Jeter's bobble head's head pop up and down with the certainty of a trip hammer and the speed of a hummingbird. Sue me, I am easily amused and since we have no TV in the spare room upstairs it is not as if I can pass the time watching the comedic styling of Maxwell and Mrs. A while I run.

Sunday afternoon while laughing at Jeter's be bopping bobble head my eyes moved from left to right and I happened upon something that was not amusing but was a sight to see nonetheless. While I do not know whether Suzanne put it in there or Rob did, one of them placed a photo of the two of them, which had to have been taken when they were perhaps 11 and 12 years old, on one of the shelves. This too had escaped my normally eagle-like eye until Sunday afternoon because now the treadmill faces towards it and it is located at or about eye level. It is simply a great picture. Both of them were captured in mid-laugh. Consequently, each has a bright-eyed, happy look. They do indeed appear to be the picture of happiness. I cannot help but look at the two of them staring back at me as I run without smiling myself. It is a photo that still generates warmth a decade and a half or so after it was taken.

It resonates with me because I know what became of the two smiling children in that picture. I know the young adults that each has grown up to become. I know of the path each has climbed (well I know there are any number of "not suitable for Dad" stories to which I have not yet become privy and shall not until the appropriate Statutes of Limitations have run. I get it, Jill and I have still never told Mom the story about how the piece of railroad tie ended up in the front right tire of her red Chevette when we were in high school although I think we hinted once that the words, "Let me drive - what is the worst that can happen?" might have some import in the tale) to get from that point, frozen in time forever, to the one where each is presently. It resonates with me because I know their story.

And it resonates with me because looking at them with their matching baby faces it reminds me that I am proud not only of who they are now but that I have always been proud of who they are - regardless of the particular point in time on the continuum. They are two remarkable young people, the best things ever made and nurtured by Margaret. Every inch of each of them is a walking, breathing testament to her and the way in which they she raised them.

I hope that for as long as I run and for as long as we have the treadmill occupying a space in the spare room upstairs for me to run upon that photograph of Suzanne and Rob occupies its appointed space - on a shelf and at eye level where it can be easily seen. At the point of intersection between what has been handed down and what picks me up. Right where it should be. The place where it belongs.

And these things that we have given you
They are not so easily found
But you can thank us later
For the things we've handed down.

-AK

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