Category Archives: Memory

Grandfather Speaks

On this date, December 26th, a Wednesday in 1956, my first best friend was born. Today she would have been 58 years old, but the fact is she never made it to her 20th birthday, having chosen to voluntarily shuffle off of this mortal coil far to prematurely. I have been unable to sleep this night as an old song plagues me. It is that Jefferson Airplane composition entitled Miracles and I ponder the connection that Paul Kantner and Grace Slick have with my inability to leave the past behind and embrace the comfort of sleep.

My cousin Carol left us too early but she has continued to be an inspiration to me, as I carom awkwardly through this life some call an illusion, although the tears and pain we bear prove all too well it is nothing less then real. Carol has been the catalyst for many of my poems and musical compositions, as well as my novel Pictures in the Sand, which is based upon a singular drawing she made in the dirt of the desert so many years ago after the ravages of this involuntary tour of duty left their scars inscribed upon her hopes and dreams.

Eight years ago, a Tuesday, on what would have been Carol’s 50th birthday, I wrote the following while contemplating what might follow this life.


20141226-Grandfather Speaks

“Grandfather, what is a soul?”

“Granddaughter, when our world first came into being the Creator included wondrous forms in the first mix. These forms existed for untold millennium as wisps that encircled our newborn world. They could feel the warmth of the sun and the cold of space but judged them not. The winds of space ferried them endlessly about. After a very long time life began to appear upon our world. First tiny creatures floated unseen in vast oceans living upon the light. Eventually larger creatures appeared until finally, one day, a creature inhaled the breath of the world and took in the wondrous wisp. This was the first soul. As the creature lived the soul learned of its surroundings. As the creature died the soul was released back into the realm of our Creator until the first breath of life once again captured it. And so it went for unnamed centuries, living, floating, and living once again experiencing the lives of our Creator’s works.”

“Grandfather, are not souls only the property of humans?”

“No Granddaughter. The unborn souls are more ancient than life. The birthing came when creatures imbued the breath of our world. This occurred long before humans came to walk upon this planet with his older cousins.“

“Grandfather, do all humans have souls?”

“No Granddaughter. The great prophet Black Elk once told me that our Creator had given only 666,000 unborn souls to our world. Since souls may live within any breathing creature only a very few humans may share their existence with one of our Creator’s souls.”

“Grandfather, what is the purpose of a soul?”

“Granddaughter, only our creator would know the answer to that question. Once, I asked Black Elk the very same question. He also said he did not know. He also said that he felt as if the soul was a gift from our Creator to connect all life. He also felt that the souls acted like teachers who would show us how to live life well.”

“Grandfather, do you have a soul?”

“I do not think so my Granddaughter. I am privileged to have learned from Black Elk what it is like to share one’s own life with a soul.”

“Grandfather, how is one who has a soul different?”

“In many, many ways, Granddaughter. A soul has shared the lives of many creatures and has developed empathy beyond the capacity of people. A person with a soul knows what it is to live the life of the least and greatest of God’s creations. A person with a soul does no harm to his fellow creatures or to the Mother of us all, our Earth.”

“Grandfather, are souls immortal?”

“Black Elk once told me that he felt as if there were now fewer souls upon our planet then when he was young. When I pressed the issue he could only say that it was a sad feeling, as if a good friend had died.”

“Grandfather, what other humans have souls?”

“I do not personally know of any.”


Sometimes I think that what happens after we leave this plane is exactly what we believe will happen. If we believe it is nothing then it is nothing that we will receive. If we believe it is basking in the warmth of God then that is what we will receive.

God bless you Carol Joy Harris on what would have been your 58th birthday. God bless you and forever may you bask in the warmness of His aura.

What Dreams May Come

Fortune Teller2

When I was all of seventeen I accompanied some friends to a carnival in Santa Ana. One of the girls in our little troop insisted that we each pay to have our fortunes read by a Gypsy fortuneteller that accompanied the carnies. Well, I never put much cotton in the idea that a person could predict the future and resisted but was finally pushed inside as the last of our group, all of which had previously exited her tent with smiles on their faces.

Inside the dark, yet colorful, tent I was encouraged to sit and offer my palm. The dark woman took one look at it and any vestige of mirth that might have been on her face immediately disappeared and was replaced by a look that might have been called horror. She then proceeded to consult the cards I selected from a Tarot deck and then some runes with peculiar markings that she had me warm inside my cupped hands and then release as if I was throwing dice. None of this brought a smile to her face but in the end she told me that she was sorry but I was going to die before my twenty-first birthday.

Now I often wondered if one of my so-called friends at the time slipped her ten or twenty dollars and said: “When Sam comes in you tell him he’s going to die soon.” I cornered them with that accusation and they all swore “cross my heart” they didn’t. Okay, if they didn’t then why would a Gypsy woman who made a living giving people good news would tell me I would be dead within the next three years? It didn’t make sense to me and after a period of what might be called grief or depression I decided I wasn’t going to let her fortune change my life, which is not to say it didn’t cross my mind a lot over the next several years.

I recently went to an Asian restaurant with my wife and two youngest children (21 and 19) and when we opened our fortune cookies my little slip of paper was blank on both sides. On our previous visit I had opened my fortune cookie only to discover that it was empty. Both of those incidents took me back to that Gypsy fortuneteller from so long ago and this past Sunday my wife and I had lunch at the Canton Palace and when I went to open my fortune cookie it was with hesitant trepidation. I opened the cookie, found a fortune, and read: “You will be healthy and wealthy in your old age.” That was so much better then no future at all.

In A Course in Miracles we are told that we are living in a dream and none of what we perceive is real. My friend Jerrie, who is in his eighties and refers to himself as a recovering Catholic, says that we are really lying on a grassy bank beside a river in Heaven having a dream about not being an eternal spirit. At sixty I have been thinking more about the end that is inevitable and, like Hamlet, I wonder if we will still be able to dream when the heart and brain stop functioning but the analytical side of my intelligence says no while the hopeful side wonders maybe. Then there is that other self who worries that what happens after death is exactly what we believe will happen. That’s just too frightening but would make a good story in the vein of The Lathe of Heaven.

In the Course we are told that Death has no power unless we choose to identify with it and that Death is not real. Yet, I look around me and I know that it is oh so real and oh so inevitable. Thirty-eight years ago tomorrow, the thirteenth of December, my cousin and best friend Carol took her own life and some seven years before that my dear friend Marsha had had enough of life and at sixteen she stepped in front of a truck to end the pain.

Are they dreaming now?

Promises

I sometimes find myself getting annoyed with my fellow drivers who roll through stop signs as if they were optional. Even after I tell myself not to take it personal it’s hard to let go of the idea that they are putting people’s safety at risk.

When I was seventeen years old two friends and I planned to go camping and target shooting in the wilds north of Victorville. I had graduated from Lawndale High School when I was sixteen but my two friends were still students at Villa Park High School. The night before we were to leave on our Spring Break camping trip a group of us decided to go to the drive-in in Huntington Beach to catch a long forgotten movie in my pickup truck. My friends were all in the bed of the truck while I drove to the drive-in and where I would back into the last row of the theater where all the pickups and vans got parked. The oldest of us was twenty-one and while I was still parking he pulled a six-pack from his duffel bag and opened a beer. Even before I was out of the cab we were descended upon by two undercover Huntington Beach police officers. To make a long story short we were all arrested, placed overnight in a drunk tank, and released the following morning, that is all but the twenty-one year old who had possession of the beer and the only one drinking.

Once I paid the fifty dollars to get my pickup out of the impound my two friends and I were on our way to my favorite camping spot in a secluded canyon north of Victorville. I rolled through a stop sign and onto a lonely country highway and was immediately pursued by a Highway Patrolman who came out of nowhere.

I rolled down the window and expected the worst but instead was greeted by the saddest face on that Officer. He explained to me that what I had done was known as a California Stop. He further told the three of us that earlier that morning, at the very same stop sign, a man had rolled through but had failed to take notice of the oncoming eighteen-wheeler who was unable to stop in time. In the resulting collision the man, his wife, and their three children were all killed. We had already noticed and commented on the debris from what must have been a terrible collision and so of course we believed him without question.

In a completely unexpected turn the Highway Patrolman said that if I were to give him my word of honor that I would never do another California Stop and be vigilant with my traffic checks he would not write me a ticket. I did, and then we shook hands and went our separate ways. Forty-three years later I still keep that promise and I suppose that may have something to do with why I get annoyed.

Drive safely and live long.

Missionaries

Several years ago two young women visited me from Utah on a lazy Saturday afternoon. I had finished my morning chores, showered, and then sat down on the couch with a glass of wine to keep me company while I was reading when the doorbell rang. The spokeswoman for the pair asked if they could come in and talk to me about their Mormon faith and to present me with a copy of The Book of Mormon. As my son and daughter were in their bedrooms I acquiesced and permitted them inside.

I asked if they minded if I sipped upon my wine while we talked and they assured me that it was perfectly fine and we entered into a back-and-forth discussion of their faith and my own particular spiritual bent. Even though, I explained, that I attended church with my family, was a youth group leader, and had spent five years as the Board President, I had never considered myself a religious man although I do consider myself a spiritual one.

I listened to the young women and they listened to me and we genuinely respected each other’s beliefs and could see the value in them. There was once a time when I had trouble with three tenets of the Mormon faith but they demonstrated the value of two of those leaving me issue with only one, which is their idea that the Latter Day Saints practice the one and only true religion. I always figured if there was an infinite God then there must be an infinite number of paths that lead to Him/Her/It.

One of the two young missionaries hailed from Ogden and the other from Salt Lake City continued to visit me once a month or so for the remainder of the Southern California Mission and we spent many pleasant hours learning about each other’s beliefs. They were quite happy to learn that I had visited Palmyra while on a business trip to Rochester, toured the facility there, and was shown the spot where Joseph Smith was said to have retrieved the Golden Plates. They were also pleased to know that I had also been to Joseph Smith’s home in Salt Lake City while on a business trip there.

On their last visit to see me they said their mission was over and they were returning home and that other missionaries would visit me. It was a bittersweet farewell, as if I was seeing old friends for the very last time. I had, after all, truly enjoyed their company, our discussions, and our explorations into faith. Blame the anthropologist in me for being so interested in other’s beliefs.

We said goodbye and sometime later two young men stopped by on a Saturday afternoon. The spokesman for the two introduced them and that asked: “Are we ever going to convince you to visit our church.” When I replied in the negative they said I would not be visited again and left.

I still have The Book of Mormon the young women had presented me with a personalized inscription on the inside directing me to some passages they believed to be of particular import. I read those passages along with others and rarely I’ll pick it up and read a little bit but the truth is I may never finish it, although I should so I can better understand the faith of coworkers, neighbors, and friends although I don’ t know how much of a difference it would make. I suspect very little.

I will always treasure the memories of the two inquisitive young missionaries and of lazy Saturday afternoon discussions and of the fact that we could follow different paths and maintain a relationship that was not only pleasant but also one of mutual respect. It’s something I think our shrinking world could use a little more of.

Sweet Friendship

My wife and I went to visit the Huntington in San Marino this past weekend and I’ve been trying to remember the occasion of my first visit and what my memory has suggested is that it was on a field trip while I was in the sixth grade and attending the South Bay Junior Academy in Torrance. That would have been in 1966 and I was, to say the least, awed by the experience and fell in love with the Japanese Garden and the portraits of The Blue Boy and Pinkie, for which I envisioned a deep love between them such as what I felt for my classmate Bonnie Jean.

The Huntington remained in my mind although I did not possess the means for a revisit for several years. I turned fifteen in August of 1969 and the following month my older brother and I went halves on the purchase of a motorcycle and since he was then serving in the Coast Guard that meant the bike was mostly mine and one of the first places I rode to was the Huntington where I refreshed my memory of the two young portraits then ate lunch on the grass beside the Koi pond.

On my second motorcycle ride to the Huntington a week later a young woman who either worked or volunteered there stopped me by the gift shop and bookstore to ask about the red book I carried along with my sack lunch. I was embarrassed by her curiosity at first but explained it was a book of Romantic Era Poetry and featured such poets as Coleridge, Scott, Moore, Wordsworth, Byron, Shelley, Keats, Hood, Landor, and Praed. I also explained that I enjoyed sitting by the Koi pond to eat my lunch and read poetry. Diana joined me that day and I read some of my favorite poems of Keats and Shelley to her and then she borrowed my book and read to me some of her favorite poems by Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Byron.

During my fifteenth year I was to make frequent trips to the Huntington and my new friend Diana, who was a full-time student at Pasadena City College, would join me by the Koi pond. She introduced me to a cadre of poets I hadn’t yet experienced like Charlotte Turner Smith, Mary Robinson, Ann Radcliffe, Ana Seward, Felicia Hemens, along with many others. In time we even became brave enough to read each other our own poetic creations and congratulate each other on our brilliance.

Now summers melt into fall, which ices into winter and then thaws into spring and with that last change of seasons into the following summer my Huntington friend went off to University and I set about on the path of finding myself and transitioning into manhood. In that year of sweet friendship the two of us never went beyond first names, nor did we ever exchange phone numbers or addresses, and we never met anywhere other than at the Huntington. What we did exchange was a love of the Japanese Garden, of the Romantic Era Poetry, and the gift of each other’s voice.

As I think back to those days when I normally disguised and hid myself behind different personas and pseudonyms I recall, that to Diana, I was Sam, not Steven or Nick, but just me unmasked and to her I bared my innermost feelings through my own Lyric Poetry with all its angst and pain as she in turn did with me, without judgment, without condemnation, without obligation, and given the human condition for what it is, that was a rare experience.

Now, forty-five years later, I still possess that 1934 printing of Romantic Poetry and, the truth be told, it is one of only a handful of artifacts I retain from my adolescence. While the memories of Diana’s face and voice have dissolved into blurred reflections with the passage of time, the memory of that sweet friendship fortunately lingers and I am grateful for how it helped to shape the character of the man I became.

Submarine Races

A favorite spectator sport of the young people coming of age on the south end of the Santa Monica Bay were the late afternoon and evening Submarine Races visible from lonely bluffs of the Palos Verdes Peninsula. It was normal that when a young man would propose this attraction to his best girl she would feign gullibility, agree to the excursion, and then stare intently at the Bay in an attempt to discern the radar towers protruding above the water, which would mark the progress of the Submarines as they raced across the bay.

It was, however, just a short matter of time before the young lady would become bored with the activity and turn her attention and affections to her young man, which was after all the true purpose of parking in the moonlight on a lonely, lovely, Palos Verdes Peninsula Bluff.

Now I never believed for a moment that any of the young ladies were ever tricked into accompanying their young man up onto the Peninsula for what was really a contact sport after all. But, even as I now approach the age of sixty, I cannot think of many things I’d like to do more than to ask my best girl if she’d like to go with me and watch the Submarines as they race beneath the waves of the Santa Monica Bay.

Now that’s amore.

Time Travel

Last night I went time traveling and I didn’t even need a Tardis. I awakened in August of 1971 inside that old familiar roller skating rink in Santa Ana. Mozart was playing, the lights were low and strobing, I was skating backwards, and sweet blue-eyed Jennie was smiling at me as we sashayed around the rink holding tight to one another. Round and around we danced on white rented roller skates, content to glide slowly and evenly, disdaining speed, and allowing ourselves to be immersed within the simple symphony of youth.

When I was young and love apart
I drove into the night
I stopped to skate with old Mozart
And stepped into her light
She touched my hand and then my heart
And held my fingers tight

And then Jennie kissed me
She took me by the hand
She gave me love I’d never known
She helped me be a man

We rode our ponies through the hills
And out along the shore
Rolled in the sand and had some thrills
Enjoying native lore
Bounced off breakers and took some spills
While learning to explore

And then Jennie kissed me
She took me by the hand
She gave me love I’d never known
She helped me be a man

While empty seashells tumbled
And the winter slowly stumbled
I watched her footprints wash away
And smiled through the salty spray

And remembered
Back when Jennie kissed me
And took me by the hand
She’d given love I’d never known
She helped me be a man

Umm, I remember
I will always remember
When Jennie kissed me

May all your time travels be as sweet.

The Undertaker

I sat on a wooden box in the shadow of the sales counter and watched The Undertaker as he paced restlessly in front of Mr. Witt’s Liquor Store and as he paused now and again to peer inside the open storefront before he resumed his march. The Undertaker continued the monotony for several more minutes while a number of customers entered the Liquor Store and Market. Many were buying cigarettes and cigars as was fashionable in the 1960’s. Brooklyn Joe, the snooker player, had walked over from the Pool Hall next door to pick up a racing form and a pack of White Owl Cigars. He, and old man Witt, discussed their favorites running at Hollywood Park and were soon joined by three other men. As always, Brooklyn Joe was by far the loudest participant, with every other word taken from the largest storehouse of swear words known to man.

The Undertaker stopped pacing the sidewalk and watched intently at the five men who, engrossed in their conversation, seemed oblivious to everything else. The Undertaker casually strolled through the 15 foot wide opening at the front of the store. He was a tall thin man. I believe he was about the thinnest man I had ever seen and at over six feet likely weighed little more than myself. As always he was attired in black leather wingtip shoes with holes in the bottom, which I knew, from previous observations, he kept patched with cardboard. He always wore the same threadbare black pants (that were several inches too short) with a matching black-tailed coat, which was only buttoned on the colder days, and a black top hat. Today he wore socks that covered the often-bare spot between his shoes and the bottom of his pants. The socks were gray-white and matched his shirt.

The Undertaker walked slowly through the front market portion of the store and stopped occasionally to pick up an item for careful inspection. Always after he turned it over in his hands he would place it back from exactly where he had taken it. He continued these careful inspections for several minutes and slowly worked his way back to the rear of the store where Mr. Witt kept the fine wine and spirits walled off by display cases from the rest of the market.

At the very entrance to the fine liquor area was an old barrel that Mr. Witt had turned into a display table by placing it upside down and adding a smaller wooden bucket in the center. He had several bottles of Thunderbird wine circling the bucket, which bore a hand-drawn sign advertising a price of “50 Cents.”

I watched The Undertaker as he picked up one of the bottles of Thunderbird and turned it over in his hands. He stroked the bottle gently and with his body positioned between the barrel and the men at the front of the store he pretended to place the bottle back on the barrel as he carefully slipped it under his tailcoat.

I continued to watch as he turned and resumed his routine of inspecting various market items as he made his way to the front of the store where he exited even as he still clutched the bottle of wine under his coat.

After he left I stood and walked over to the cash register and interrupted the men’s talk of thoroughbreds.

“Mr. Witt”, I said, “Did you know that that man just stole a bottle of Thunderbird?”

The four customers all laughed.

Mr. Witt smiled and said; “Sammy, I keep those bottles of Thunderbird in the store for him alone. When he has a need he comes in for one. Sometimes, he will actually have a half-dollar or a bag full of pop bottles to give me, but most of the time he is broke. As long as I keep those bottles in stock he never tries to take anything more expensive.”

I was still barely a Cub Scout then and I thought about that incident for a very long time. We are all told that it is wrong to steal and somebody is supposed to be punished. That day I learned a little more about charity, compassion, and what loving one’s brother is really all about – even if it was one of those that many people in our society would seemingly just throw away.

Mr. Witt taught me a lesson that day, nearly fifty years ago, that I soon began to practice along with my new Boy Scout slogan: “Do a good turn daily.” As Taco Bell was across the street from where I grew up it was not uncustomary for me to stop for a Taco, Bell Burger – or similarly inexpensive item, purchase an extra, and leave it on the rail of the dumpster out back. It brought tears to my eyes when I learned that my friends and neighbors had begun doing the same.

And, during this Christmas season, I pray you all experience the joy of doing a good turn daily and blessing your own, as well as, another’s day.

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Epilogue:

The Undertaker was a real human being that haunted the streets where I grew up for many years. He was a homeless man, who was always attired in the same threadbare clothes, and whose only variation I can remember in his dress, was that on some days he lacked socks. I never once heard him speak, from the first days he arrived when I was still in elementary school, on through his last days, which saw me through high school and into young adulthood.

It was the children of our town that called him The Undertaker, along with other names like The Spook, and The Scarecrow. I don’t believe anyone ever knew what his given name was, where he hailed from, or what the set of circumstances was that took him from a life where he would have dressed like Fred Astaire, to the one where he pulled his meals from the dumpster behind a Taco Bell that was located some sixteen miles due south of Hollywood.

I have a faint memory of a long ago Sunday morning when The Undertaker stood in the entrance of our Pentecostal Holiness Church and listened to the sermon with his top hat in his hand and then, when it was over, fled when invited all the way inside by an usher.

Nobody really knew where he lived but I discovered it by accident one night. As a boy I would often sneak out of my house in the middle of the night and go to where the railroad tracks cut our town askew. On one of those nights, as I sat and watched the trains and constellations, I saw The Undertaker exit a thick growth of shrubbery along side the fences that separated the homes from the tracks, relieve himself on the rails in the moonlight, and then get down upon his hands and knees, and crawl back inside.

When I was young man working full-time and going to college in the evenings I realized that I had not seen him about for a while. I asked around and was told that he had died while asleep in his shrubbery home. One of the neighbors apparently found his body after he missed seeing him for a few days.

The Undertaker became an integral part of my life on that August morning in 1965 when he became the vehicle for an important lesson that I needed to learn and he, like so many others who have come and gone through the years, never truly left me.

Fragments

This past Saturday morning I was driving westbound on Interstate 10 heading for the monthly Creative Writers Club meeting when a billboard turned my thoughts to a sixth grade classmate of mine – from that single school year when I attended the South Bay Junior Academy, which was (and still is) a Seventh Day Adventist School. Well, I thought about Bonnie Jean, and the love poems this shy eleven-year-old wrote for her, and the fact that I never gave her any of them, although I encoded a few that I presented to her but never revealed how to decode them.

From that memory I segued five years ahead in time to when I wrote poetry and essays on almost a daily basis. One of those circa 1970 poems I wrote was in the vein of Lord Byron’s: “She Walks in Beauty.” Now I wasn’t really writing the poem about anyone in particular but I was quite inspired by the English Romantic poets, which besides Byron, included Keats, Shelly, and of course the penultimate William Blake. Back in those halcyon days it was quite common for some of us to get together and share our poetic attempts with one another and tell each other how good we were. I showed my attempt to emulate Byron to my friend Shelly, which happened to be on the occasion of her sixteenth birthday, and she liked it so much she asked if I’d dedicate it her, which I did. Now since that time I’ve moved a number of times, been through a failed marriage, a house fire, lost floppy disks, and crashed hard drives with misplaced backups and, as a result, only 42 poems and 1 short story (out of the many hundreds) survived from the period of 1960 to 1983, and this one was not one of the lucky ones.

I had liked that poem so much that I’d memorized it and later showed it to my Creative Writing professor at El Camino Junior College who called it trite and clichéish. Well, so much for taste. After I discovered the poem was lost to time I tore through my memory but all I could recall was:

For Shelly Dawson on the occasion of her 16th birthday.

The beauty of my true love
Is far beyond compare
Radiant beams from high above
Accent her body bare.

The grandeur of the mystic moon

Only a fragment of the original.

West Bound I10

By the time I entered the city of Upland on that west bound freeway my thoughts turned to the first poem I remember writing. It was late 1960 and I was in the first grade at William Green Elementary School. The previous fall I had been expelled from kindergarten for kicking the principal in the shin and on the first day of the first grade, September 6, 1960, I was told by him that I had to sit at the back of the classroom, turned away from the teacher and students, and was not permitted to turn or participate in class. What I was allowed to do was read any of the books that were shelved across the back of the classroom, draw, or write. Well, you can imagine that it’s quite difficult for a six-year-old not to turn and look when his classmates we’re laughing or giggling and so I was sent across the median to the principal’s office rather frequently for a tearful swat from his carved wooden paddle.

It’s a harsh, broken, memory, but I do recall soon finishing all of the books of even the slightest interest and thus began my writing career with an epic poem about a spy that I’m sure was inspired by one of the books I read while sitting alone at the back of the classroom. It too did not survive the wrath of time but this is how it began:

The Spy

There once was a spy
The size of a fly
Who went to war
Riding a boar

Well, if you’re thinking it’s a good thing this epic didn’t survive, that’s really okay, because what did survive was the creative spirit born of the necessity for a young boy to entertain himself while seated alone at the back of a classroom.

Like the bits and pieces of the poems my memories survive in much the same way. A little bit from here, a little piece from there, sometimes even an entire scene, and sometimes only a static image of an old friend who is no longer with us, or who simply went on a path that diverged from my own.

Now that I’m nearing the end of my sixth decade I’ve decided to treasure all of my little bits and pieces, be they joyous or painful, because, after all, these fragments are my life.

Time Travel

I returned abruptly to the present at 6:08 am. It was painful to say the least. In fact, I continued to lie in my bed until 7:30 hoping to reclaim just a small piece of the wonder that I had been enjoying.

I was way back in the yesterdays with my first best friend, the first person I remember loving, and that one person that once asked me for something that I did not possess at the time. In last night’s escape we journeyed on the back of my time machine from the southern Arizona desert, where a praying monk once blessed us while bats gathered nectar from the night blooming flowers of the saguaros, to the Canadian Rockies where Alberta and British Columbia are divided by some of the most spectacular scenery on our little planet. What a Joy it was to pilot my Magna through the mountains with her once again holding tight about my waist, combating the wind by shouting into my ear on the Trans-Canadian Highway; Yoho, Golden, Kimbasket Lake, and her long hair blowing in the wind. Freedom, as it was meant to be.

I once read an article by a physicist who claimed that time travel was theoretically possible but it would require more energy to pull off than was contained within our visible universe. That is probably a very good thing as I loathe imagining how much more we could screw up with our simian brains. I for one have never really been able to wrap my mind around this dimension of time because, from my perspective, there is only the eternal Now and this human construct of time is simply a yardstick by which we measure the distance between events.

But, I’m thankful for my little time travels when I’m fortunate to be blessed by them. To be able to once again enjoy the company of those whose corporal experiences were cut way too short is nothing short of a miracle. Carol took her own life on Monday, December 13, 1976 and there is not a day goes by that I don’t have a thought and a prayer for my first best friend.

Escape

Concealed from life in dreary black linen
Abject love lies in endless decay.
Robbed of life by that curious demon,
On shadowy wings of Cimmerian gray.

Legended by ancestral states, to usher
Journeys to unfamiliar lands, where helpless
On the shores of your Stygian master,
You yearn for love you cannot possess.

Haunted by a silent phantom, my vague
Apparition of virgin splendor
Resurrects anew our relative plague
Released forever from social dolor.

In suicide a life is squandered,
Surrendered, but, forever remembered.

Samuel Thomas Nichols
January 31, 1979