An old friend of ours came to visit on Wednesday and today we were sorry to see him leave.
My husband has known Dave since junior high school. Back in 1975, they hitchhiked to the Grand Canyon. They were only seventeen. It’s hard to imagine two seventeen year olds hitchhiking across the country in 2014.
I still can’t believe I can say things like, “twenty-seven years ago when we lived in an apartment above a garage, one of my husband’s best friends moved in next door…” Twenty seven years ago? How the hell did that happen?
Dave never liked to cook. He would join us for dinner two nights a week, sometimes more. We had a small galley kitchen where we experimented with all sorts of gourmet recipes. Dave just got in the habit of showing up around dinner time. We loved having him join us, he thought everything we made was delicious. One night I made penne with brie cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, and black olives. Back in 1987, this was our first encounter with sun-dried tomatoes. I remember Dave saying, in his ever appreciative manner, “these tomato things are good in and of themselves.”
We continued to use the expression “in and of themselves” about a lot of things, as in, this saxophone riff is good in and of itself, or whatever it was that was good all on its own. I realized I had just used that expression for a piece I wrote this week for the Huffington Post. “It was quiet, a profound peaceful quiet which was like a sound in and of itself.” It’s amazing how little things like that stay with you over the years. A simple group of words that mean so much more than the sum of their parts.
The apartment above the garage ended up in my first novel, The Reverse Commute. I gave it to the Best Boy.
“Here we are.” He pulled into the driveway of an old colonial home. The houses on the street were close to the road with small side yards between them. At the end of his driveway was a detached garage set back from the house. He pointed to it and said, “That’s me. Let’s go inside and maybe you can show me what Emily means by might I but moor tonight in thee.”
Dave is the “single white male and it’s a jungle out there” at one of my Halloween parties back in Boston many years ago, the guy in the non-costume next to my camouflaged husband.
There are so many things we’ve done together over the years, the list is too long to mention, but we discussed a lot of them during Dave’s five day visit. From the vacation rentals we shared on the Cape to how much we love John Irving but his latest books are not nearly as good as Owen Meany, Garp, and the Cider House Rules.
The guys golfed and the three of us spent a lot of time at the beach. And we walked. Like me, Dave likes to walk.
During his visit, Dave kept two books of daily affirmations on the night table by his bed, reading from each one every morning. I was intrigued by this daily habit. I was feeling a little low, wondering if I would ever succeed at this writing thing. On one of our walks we discussed the pursuit of happiness. We agreed it truly is a pursuit. We both acknowledged that unlike some people who are just naturally happy, we need to work at being happy. It is a daily pursuit that takes a conscious effort.
So many things can get you down. Big things: losing a job, a serious illness. Little things: a flat tire, a bad day at work. Life is short and both of us are trying to focus on the good things that happen each day, the little moments that make up a life.
One night the subject of loss came up. Friends and their parents who have passed away. Cancer, alcohol and drug abuse, car accidents. Sad stuff. Hard things to understand. Life and loss and the passage of time. It seems only yesterday we were young and invincible. Or so we thought. We lived for the moment. We still live for the moment but are much more conscious of how precious those moments are. Like Josie in Take Me Home.
Having met each other late in life, Josie was acutely aware of the swift passage of time. In tune with the world around her, her senses heightened, she enjoyed each day as the golden autumn light turned grey, the cold sneaking in. Setting out the door each day ready to discover something new, the weather never deterred them from their early morning walks.
Sunday morning we walked to the beach. It was a glorious day in South Florida. The kind of day that reminds me of the reasons I wanted to move here. We went to the “Private” beach at the end of our road. None of us cared about private. We all agreed no one owns the beach.
Then all too soon, it was time for Dave to leave. He was headed to Orlando for a work related convention. It was hard to say goodbye. We’d had such a nice time. We made plans to meet again.
With time to kill before the Super Bowl, an overwhelming sadness snuck up on me. I sunk into a funk. We decided to do some errands. My husband dropped me off at Barnes & Noble while he went shopping for new windshield wipers for my car. Browsing the self improvement aisle, I flipped through some books of daily affirmations. I couldn’t find the ones Dave had so I grabbed a couple of others, bought a vanilla latte at Starbucks, and perused my choices.
Positive Quotes for Every Day opened on January 1st with this: “The best thing about the future is that it comes only one day at a time.” ~ Abraham Lincoln. The author, Patricia Lorenz, suggested that instead of making a huge, unattainable list of all the things you want to accomplish in the new year, it is more productive to look back at last year and the things you accomplished and the places you visited.
It seemed simple enough but it was amazing how much better it made me feel. Last year I had just published my first book. I sold my house, moved to Florida and wrote a second book which I published by the second week of this new year. Not only did I travel to Florida, but I visited Colorado three times, Wyoming, Idaho, Utah and Montana. Although I am still not selling as many books as I would like, I am making progress and hanging in there.
I plan to keep my new book on the night table by my side of the bed. I will start each day with a positive thought, like my friend Dave. I will continue to work on being happy and I will keep writing. For now I am putting aside expectations. I am writing for myself, because now that I’ve started writing, I can’t stop. I know I’ve touched people with my words. I’ve heard from you and I thank you for your encouragement. The goal is to reach a lot more readers but for now the pleasure is in the written word. And good friends and sunny days. In and of themselves.