Brothers

My brother and me

Duncan and I used to fight, a lot. It was mostly my fault, undergoing the rigors of adolescence and taking it out on him. Yet — in spite of the fisticuffs and thrown objects and attempted fratricides — something shifted in high school.

L-R: Elliott (16); William (12); McLean (18)

Duncan and I became close friends. It’s that way to this day, and I’m grateful for his sharp mind, sense of humor, and outstanding counsel.

What I wish for my sons is that they’ll stick together, always look out for each other. I see promising signs that this will happen, and nothing makes this father more pleased.

In spite of Lauren and my preaching the Gospel of Brothers are Brothers for Life, nothing shows them what such a lifetime friendship can mean more than watching Duncan and me as we continue to grow closer with time.

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The Buddha Visits the Lowcountry

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Here, now

This small framed quote traveled with me from my one of my first jobs all the way here – now – in my office on the side of a filing cabinet, eyesight, and to my right. The words come from the late Raymond Carver, one of the short story masters of the 2oth Century. He penned this passage after he got sober near the end of his life.

Raymond Carver

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O’Yonder

Exhibit 1: AARP Mailer

As a kid, I made jokes about Geritol, prune juice, and Depends. Aging provided rich fodder for humor…until the joke turned on me. Note Exhibit 1: a portion of an elaborate membership envelope that recently arrived.

Even as I marched through the decades — 20’s, 30’s, 40’s — I never thought of myself as old. And even as the hair right down the middle of my head empty-nested me, I never attributed it to aging. (I just blamed 20p11, the small region on chromosome 20 that sends so many in search of toupees or for membership in Hair Club for Men.) The point I’m trying to make is that getting older was o’yonder, one or two vast valleys away. Not imminent, like on your front porch.

Turning 50 almost a month ago wasn’t difficult. That said — of the previous 49 birthdays –none has made me think more about time and change than the fiftieth. My journal  holds a dozen recent musings about all measures of time — past, present, future. I think a lot about the growth of our three sons, how fast they’re aging and maturing. I wonder how life will treat them, and if they’re ready. I think about my marriage, which has mellowed into a mature friendship and fine partnership. I wonder what it’ll be like after the third son goes to college, and if we’ll be ready. And I think about how much I’ve enjoyed my career and how I love what I do now and how I’ll carry on until 65, perhaps longer.

I am, of course, aging whether I acknowledge it or not. Pictures on Facebook show childhood friends gathered at 50th birthday parties; many have aged considerably. “I’m not that guy,” I think, zeroing in on the oldest, heaviest, least-haired fellow. But I am that guy, regardless of appearance. We’ve bonded by the rite of surviving 50 years. Fifty years. (Recently, driving a swim carpool and listening to the conversation about a teacher, I heard one boy say to another: “He’s so old. He’s like 40.”)

I accept the passage of time. What else can I do? I even accept the arrival of the AARP mailer. After all, the discounts you get as a senior are pretty darned impressive. And to join for three years? Forty-three dollars? That’s actually not a bad deal.

Consider me aged.

 

 

 

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Go Asunder

North Davidson & East 36th streets

Sunday, I had nowhere to be. Nothing to do. I did have a means of transportation, so I set out with my journal/daybook on a sunny day with temps in the low 70’s. It’d been four or five years since I’d spent any time in NoDa. I began at the headwaters of now-entrenched art district: South Davidson Street. After tooling north along Davidson, traffic began to build and slow.

I rolled toward the center of the district, and more and more groups of people appeared, walking to or from. The Smelly Cat Coffeehouse requires one right turn off North Davidson onto East 36th and one right turn into the Smelly Cat parking lot.

The Smelly Cat view of the Neighborhood Theatre

Outside, coffee in hand, I took a table across from the Neighborhood Theatre, where I’ve seen some fine bands. The building is a show itself: colorful, entertaining. Passer-by made people-watching engrossing when I wasn’t busy writing. I took pictures. I took an afternoon that I would otherwise have spent grading and turned it into a mini-walkabout. The rest can wait, I reasoned. And it did, just fine.

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The Wait Begins

Lax season again.

The Defensive Wait

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Because I’m naturally drawn to back doors…

use front door

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