“…Old friends, they mean much more to me than the new friends,
Cause they can see where you are, and they know where you’ve been…” ~ Harry Chapin
I have had friends on my mind a lot lately. Some of it may be related to the fact that my high school class just had the 35th anniversary of our graduation… or maybe it was because of all of the other things going on in my life but regardless, they are a major focal point in my life.
The older I have gotten the greater appreciation I have for the friends that have been around the longest. Many of them I had lost contact with over the years and through the marvels of modern electronics, I have reconnected with them again. The last few years of my life have been rich with memories and stories that have come back to life again as result of these various re-connections.
I had the good fortune this weekend to spend some time with a friend from way back in my elementary school days. It is funny how life works. We had drifted apart as we made our way through junior high and high school… both of us searching for the path that would lead us forward… and here we are again, our paths re- merging as we continue our journey through life.
I am a most fortunate man to have had such people in my life in the past… and so grateful that many of them are now reaching out to me just as I reach out to them. I wouldn’t say that I am trying to relive past glories (probably because I believe my life is gloriously ordinary) as much as it feels like I am finding a tremendous amount of comfort in the sharing of familiar stories and places with people that experienced the same things.
I do love these friends from the past… as I struggle with many things in my life, the comfort they bring me is truly a calm harbor in the storm… I think I’ll just throw out my anchor and just hang out here…. thanks for all you do for me, my friends.
I was recently having a cup of coffee at one of my routine coffee drinking places (of which there must be a thousand) when I happened to notice the guy outside doing the grounds work. You know the guy I’m talking about. He pulls up in the parking lot with his low sitting trailer behind his pickup truck which carries all of the tools of his trade. It appears from looking at it that he pretty much has a “gas powered everything” on that trailer. I can’t think of a single thing that needs to be done to the grounds here that he can’t take care of in a split second with one of those engineering feats of modern technology.
This caused me to start thinking about my days in the lawn care business. Back then the only tools that existed were the “me powered everything”. I can remember many a day trimming the boxwood hedge around my grandmothers yard with an old pair of hedge trimmers. The steady rhythm I would get into as I went along the top and down the sides of those hedges help keep my mind off of the pain I was experiencing in my shoulders. I would have sworn that those hedges must have been a mile long at least! The only thing longer than the hedges were the sidewalks that needed to be edged. I would use one of those edgers that you rolled back and forth over the same place again and again until it had cut the all but the last little bit of grass that was growing on the sidewalk… and you’d still have to bend down and pull that last little bit of grass that just wasn’t willing to give up the fight.
Finally I would take a pair of hand grass cutters to do the trimming up close to the flowerbeds and around the things that the lawnmower just couldn’t reach. There were no weed eaters back then…. just the constant snip, snip, snip of the cutters as you squeezed the handles over and over and over. I would sit on the ground and just scoot along until I got it all trimmed out.
As aggravating as it all was, it was a real sense of accomplishment once I was finished. Everything always looked so orderly and in it’s place… it made me feel so good to know that I had accomplished it all. But you know what? It don’t feel so terribly bad sitting here, watching this guy with all of his new fangled equipment while I enjoy this coffee… oh, I guess it’s time for another cup!
I always loved October growing up. It was for me the true season of change. I was kinda getting back in the groove of school… well as much as I ever really got in that groove… corn fields began to be laid bare… football games were going on every Friday night somewhere…. yep, it was the best.
And it got even better when I could drive. I loved to drive around and watch the sun coming up over those barren fields. I would drive around with the windows down, Bachman Turner Overdrive “taking care of business” on my 8 track player and the wonderful musty, dusty sweet smells of fall in my nose! There was just enough chill in the air to make me forget the hot sweltering days that had just passed back in late August and early September.
I have no idea why this particular month seemed to hold so much promise in my mind. Maybe it was the fact that I hadn’t screwed up school so bad yet…. failure at this point wasn’t inevitable… as the reality of the situation would reveal itself to me later in November and December. Or maybe it was the fact this was always the time of year that I fell in love. I don’t know why but once I got back to school, there would always be a girl that attracted my attention. I rarely spoke to any of them because I was just to shy but they always showed up in October it seems. Or maybe it was the fact that the holiday season was almost in reach… the anticipation of wonderful food at my grandmothers house can provoke hunger pains in my even today. Whatever the case, October just always felt the best!
There are many things that I remember when I first started driving. First, it was some things about the physical construction of the cars themselves. Back then, you didn’t use the turn signal to flip the lights from dim to bright. No, the dimmer switch was a button in the floor board that you operated with your left foot. I never will forget how strange I thought it was when I drove a car with the switch in the turn signal. Also, all of the cars that we had in my family had the gas cap located behind the back license plate. It was a little bit difficult to hold the gas pump hose, hold down the license plate and get the lid off all at the same time. And the lid wasn’t attached with a strap of any sort. So to keep up with the gas cap while you were pumping gas, I would lay it upside down on the trunk with the little fin that stuck up from it down in the seam where the trunk lid came against the side. More than once I drove off without putting the lid back on… that may have had something to do with the distraction of me standing there talking to my best friend about what sorts of mischief we were heading for or because I was jamming to some awesome tunes blaring on from my 8 track tape player through the most wonderful speakers on the planet… a pair of Jensen triaxials…
And to make things more convenient for everyone, gas stations started installing pay at the pump gas pumps. These pumps were nothing like what you see at the gas station today. They were regular looking gas pumps but there were these large boxes installed directly next to the pump that had a device in them that would accept one dollar bills just like the drink machines of today. I never will forget that I use to always make sure that I had a few ones on me if I needed some gas. The nice thing about life back then, was that I could drive just about all weekend long on about 5 dollars worth of gas… and lets face it, what else could you possibly spend the weekend doing?
So this is my 100th post. It is hard for me to believe that I have written this much. I didn’t realize I even knew 100 different things that I could write about. But then again, those of you that know me best know that I typically am never at a loss for words.
I’m thinking that this is an important post. One that should speak to everyone… one that should convey some great truth of the universe… one that will create such a stir that it will go viral and everyone will be sharing it and talking about it for weeks and months to come. But I know that the world doesn’t work that way… so this post is just more ramblings from me… on a topic that has been on my mind a lot… and actually appears in pretty much every single one of the previous 99 posts.
If you read back over my posts you will see family and friends and places and events and things from my past. You may be wondering what is the common thread here besides me, of course.
This past year has been a very difficult one. It seems as though every aspect of life has conspired against me. Not all of it has been a conspiracy though…. there have been many things that I have done myself that has added to the difficulties. Many of those things have led to me writing this blog in the first place. But as I wrote… post after post…. I realized that it wasn’t the sadness or pain of these difficulties that drove me… it was the love that I feel in my life… the love I feel for the things, events and places in my past that have led me to where I am today. But mostly it is the people. There are many more stories coming about them all… so thanks for hanging in with me over the last month… Work as well as some personal things have been consuming all of my time but things are settling back down some again so hopefully the stories… and memories… and some thoughts on love, and friendship, and just life in general will be coming your way very soon no doubt.
Let’s hope the next 100 will continue to help me as much as the first 100 did!