Sixty-Six, for 66, Part II: Solstices, Hot and Cold

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December 21, 2016, Prescott-  So, from today, our days will be getting ever  so slightly longer, with minute temperature changes a-coming, until June 21.  One of the kids asked about the Southern Hemisphere, and learned that the days in Australia,  most of South America and much of Africa, will now be getting shorter, until that same date, next year.

I was in Sydney, once, in mid-September, 1971, and enjoyed a mild Spring week.  I even had a few hours at Bondi Beach, and didn’t need a sweater, on the hydrofoil to Taronga Park.  Our seasons aside, I felt rather at home “Down Under”, and will someday make my way again to those parts, and to many others, for the first time.

Enough of things about which I can do nothing.  I’d rather focus on the emotional solstices that we seem to experience.  A few questions for thought:  How often have friends, some of them trusted, turned aside for the least perceived slight?  How often have friendships turned, because of unshared convictions, or a feeling that perhaps one is no longer “useful”?  How often has a friend looked upon you as a surrogate, either for a lost loved one, or for the person him/herself?

I am comfortable in many climates, and in many situations.  It’s something to which I have gravitated, all my life.  My peculiar form of loyalty is to humanity, as a whole- so slights are forgiven, secrets are kept, and often forgotten, and people are valued, even when they forget to value themselves.  I guess this is a fine way of remaining adaptable to both earthly and human environments.

Human seasons continue to come and go.  May they become milder, in tone and sharper, in meaning.

My Life Thus Far: The Seventies

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February 11, 2016, Prescott-  Today was brutal, for many people about whom I care.  It wasn’t so bad for me, personally, because I stayed put-mostly out of financial prudence.  Things will be better that way, tomorrow.

So, I will continue recounting what has been good, and not so good, with the years gone by.  A lot of you, my faithful WP readers, despised my account of the Sixties.  Brace yourselves:  Things went a tad south for me, as twentysomething, but I lay the blame at my own two feet.  Therefore, if you were rankled by me as a teen, skip this post.

1970-High Point:  Being in Fort Myer for the entire year.

Low Point:  Stan E. getting killed in combat.

People in the heart:  Cathy P., my best long-distance phone friend; my three faithful roommates in the TriService barracks; Don and Charley,my co-workers; Stan E., who died for his country.

Places in the heart:  Georgetown, DC; the C & P Canal Towpath; Lynn Beach, when I was on leave.

1971-High Point:  Being stationed in the Cholon section of Saigon.

Low Point:  Wretched, crowded, chaotic Long Binh Army Base.

People in the heart:  Jim T., who stood up for his girls; Tay Lanh, who honoured my dignity; Bill B., Arnie P. and Roger D., my buddies in Cholon; the Henderson family, who overlooked my surly temperament, while I was in Sydney; Tommy W., who didn’t deserve to have been left alone, while injured.

Places in the heart:  Cholon; Vung Tau; Tauranga Park; Woollahra.

1972- High Point:  My hitchhiking trip across North America.

Low Point:  Ignoring what I had been told about spiritual truth.

People in the heart:  Dave G., who gave me my first post-Army job; my workmates, Jimmy, Jan, Donna and Franny; Jim F., my long-suffering boss; Lillies S., the college office manager, who told me to always set my sights high; my hometown buddies, who welcomed me back from ‘Nam; the Gordon family, of Toronto, who camped with me, along Lake Superior; Kathy B., with whom I almost fell madly in love; the Bullocks, who hosted me in Baltimore, for a week; the anonymous truck driver in King of Prussia, who introduced me to the Baha’i Faith; Sandy and Al, my housemates; Donna G., who tried to be a good friend.

Places in the heart:  North Shore Community College; Montreal; Lake Superior; Edmonton; Jasper; Lake Louise; Babb, MT; Morgantown, WV; Baltimore; Ocean City; Bethlehem, PA; my little room in Beverly, MA.

1973- High Point: Visiting Prince Edward Island.

Low Point:  The Chelsea Fire.

People in the heart:  Geary C., Alan A., Sandy G. and Angie D., my friends at NSCC; just about everyone I met on PEI; the hipster who filled my tank with gas, for giving him a ride from Ellsworth to Boothbay.

Places in the heart:  Beverly,MA; Salem; Boston Public Library; Prince Edward Island; New Glasgow, NS; Boothbay Harbor, ME.

1974- High Point: Working at Quisisana Resort, ME.

Low Point:  The botched attempt to serve as editor of “Sage Revisited”.

People in the heart: All my NSCC and Beverly friends; Kathy H., Annette K, Tom & Fricky J., Sandy M., the Grices and Dave B., who were my friends and co-workers at “Quisi”; Dr. and Mrs. Ziv, my “Jewish grandparents” from lower Manhattan; Jimmy S. and Mr. McGregor, who offered me work close to home; my dorm mates in Orchard Hill, at UMass-Amherst.

Places in the heart: Quisisana Resort, Lovell, ME; Bar Harbor; North Conway; Amherst; Fisher Island, NY.

1975- High Point:  Hiking the Presidential Range, in New Hampshire’s White Mountains.

Low Point: Getting fired from a part-time job, on my 25th birthday.

People in the heart:  My campus buddies at UMass; Mrs. Braman, the housemother in my rooming house, in Northampton; Steve R., Paul W. and Ken C., my brainy, irreverent and totally sloppy first housemates in South Deerfield; the Rivard family, who moved in, after the guys were evicted; Allan D., my internship co-op teacher; Lloyd Z. and Linda D., who imparted good pedagogy; every child who put up with me in that little U.S. History class; the Zivs.

Places in the heart:  Amherst; Northampton; South Deerfield; the White Mountains; lower Manhattan.

1976- High Point:  Graduating from UMass.

Low Point:  Almost losing a sibling, in an accident.

People in the heart:  Dave C. and Janet C., my Quisisana friends and a most unlikely couple; Fred L., aka “Doctor Dirt”; Clay R., my younger doppelganger; the Smalls, who lodged me in Bangor; the Bryants, who fed me, whenever I tutored their son; Mr. Bluestein, who stressed the value of a dollar; Peter W., who hired me as a Teacher Aide; Cheryl Q., who mentored me.

Places in the heart:  Bangor, Brewer and Etna,ME;

1977- High Point:  My brother, David’s, wedding.

Low Point:  Being evicted, on false pretenses, in the middle of February.

People in the heart:  Cheryl Q., Peter W., Greg F., Susan C., Grace P. and Evelyn L., who tried their best to be mentors and friends; Lucy and Ronnie R., who took me in from the dead of winter; John and Mary M., my cousin and his wife, who were always there for me; my eight unsettled, troubled and always worthwhile students, in the Behaviorally-Challenged class; my first and fourth-graders, that second year, who re-assured me that I could serve as a teacher.

Places in the heart:  Brewer, Etna, Vinalhaven and Fort Kent, ME; Fredericton and Edmundston, NB; Riviere Bleu and Lac Megantic, QB.

1978- High Point:  My sister, Cheryl’s, wedding.

Low Point:  Losing my temper on a school field trip to a museum.

People in the heart:  My friends and well-wishers at Etna-Dixmont School; my new supervisors at Villa School, Toltec, AZ; many of my students, at both schools; Mrs. Knox, my landlady, over the summer.

Places in the heart:  Bangor, Etna, Dexter and Kingfield, ME.; Mactaquac Park and Saint John, NB; Toltec, Casa Grande, Phoenix, Tucson and Grand Canyon, AZ; Amarillo; Chicago; Toledo.

1979- High Point:  My first solo visit to Mexico.

Low Point:  Encountering a dangerous sex offender, in the New Mexico desert.

People in the heart:  Lynda E., Patrick G., Bill K.,  John G.- my co-workers at Villa; the vast majority of my students; the two sisters who drove me from Little Rock to Albuquerque, without regard for my disheveled state; the majority of my fellow travelers, between Phoenix and Boston, and back; the young lady who gave me a ride from Grand Canyon to Las Vegas, in an empty tour bus, just for the sake of having company.

Places in the heart:   Casa Grande;Grand Canyon; Tucson; Puerto Penasco; Hermosillo; Ensenada; Woodfords and Bishop, CA;  Hodgenville and Mammoth Cave, KY.

This decade brought a lot of painful personal growth to my doorstep. There are many people from those days who, if they were never to see me again, it would be too soon.  There are others whom I miss, sorely.  The big lessons are that alcohol and autism are a  wicked combination.  Lack of even rudimentary social skills surfaced, at the worst possible times, though thankfully, it was all pretty much done by the time I moved to Arizona.  When a rough-edged former co-worker tried to nail me with  the label of “loser”, towards the end of 1979, his words fell on deaf ears.

The Eighties would be, by and large, awesome.