"From this hour I ordain myself loos'd of limits and imaginary lines, going where I list, my own master total and absolute, Listening to others, considering well what they say, Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating, Gently, but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that would hold me."
Walt Whitman (1819-92)
"When I look back now over my life and call to mind what I might have had simply for taking and did not take, my heart is like to break."
Akhenaton (d. c.1354 BC)
And now, the current weather, from some random person we pulled off the street:
Saturday, July 01, 2006
com-rade Function: noun Etymology: Middle French camarade group sleeping in one room, roommate, companion, from Old Spanish camarada, from cámara room, from Late Latin camera, camara -- more at CHAMBER 1 a : an intimate friend or associate b : a fellow soldier 2 : as close as a brother, sometimes
I walked up onto the deck of the trailer, unsure as to whether I was in the right place or not. Until I saw it lying against the railing, then I knew I had it right.
I was in Murrell's Inlet, SC, a town about 20 miles south of Myrtle Beach and about 10 miles south of where I had spent almost all of the significant days of my youth. Murrell's Inlet used to be a quiet fishing village, but the sprawl of Myrtle Beach had even engulfed this out of the way place. I had arrived by way of a bypass that had not even been there the last time I was there, and the road was far from new.
Man, I hate having experiences like that.
The entire way in, not a single thing was familiar. And it should have been, but there in that place, things age overnight, and one thing gets replaced by another in a heartbeat.
There's been time for a lot of heartbeats.
I was trying to visit my best friend from so long ago, John. I had mentioned to him a week earlier that I would come by, but all morning I had been unable to reach him. I followed my trusty Mapquest page to his street, but then I was stymied.
There were two trailers on his side of the road. One didn't have a street number, the other was missing a digit. Which was the last and important one, of course.
John was always a salt of the earth kind of guy. He was friendly, easy going, easy to like and trust. I knew all he ever wanted out of life was a fishing boat, a reasonably pretty wife, and a trailer. In that order. That was exactly what he got, too.
A while back, John got really sick with hydroencephaly and almost died. He now has a shunt in his brain that keeps him alive. Sometimes it works better than others.
And sometimes, he doesn't have the memory he used to have.
So, I stroll up to the porch. It seems like I remember the trailer being a different color. But there was a boat in the yard.
Then again, almost every trailer there had a boat in the yard of some sort.
I looked for some other clue, and there it was. A surfboard.
It was beige with a purple trim, and in the center it read, I think, "Mystic Rider". I knew that board. That board and my own had shared so many waves decades ago. It was amazing that it was still here. Then again, I still have mine too.
Why two old guys like us are hanging onto surf boards, who knows. Let's not go there. Anyway, I knocked and no answer, so we decided to go get some lunch and try again in a few minutes.
My wife wanted to see the ocean and the beach, so I took her to Garden City, just north of Murrell's Inlet. As we turned in, I spotted the Village Surf Shop, the single one business that appeared to weather the decades. There it sat, its painted concrete walls defying time and economy, saying "You shall not pass" to the condos and hotels and junk shops. You go, guys.
We eventually got together with John, and had a great couple of hours shatting and catching up on old times. Gosh, I wish I could spend a few weeks or years there. It's the only place I've ever been truly happy, and I've been enough places to know that nothing else will ever be able to replace it.
Sure, it's a lot different than it was. Things have been torn down, replaced, bulldozed over, road were cut. But underneath it all, underneath it is still the place that I love and know and feel home in.
Turn up the lights--I don't want to go home in the dark. O. Henry [William Sydney Porter], Last words, 5 June 1910