Wednesday, April 28, 2010

One Upmanship

I’ve been toying with the idea of getting involved in a veterans’ organization. The last 5 years of my counseling career I worked with veterans. I became very close to many of my clients and with a few I remained friends after our counseling relationship was over. I miss those friendships. I was over at our community laundry the other day and noticed a man wearing a US Army cap. I told him I had been in the Army also and we got to talking. He was a Vietnam vet like me. I asked him where he was in Vietnam and what he did over there. He told me he was in Armor and that except for a few times back in the rear, he was out in the bush for his entire tour. He also told me that he was injured and shot at a lot. He was informative about the local groups and gave me some good suggestions for my need to be around other veterans.
But, his telling me about how hard he had it and how much danger he was in stirred up a familiar uneasy feeling inside me. When I told him our base camp received incoming mortars and rockets. He countered with, “But it’s different when the enemy is specifically shooting at you.” I had the urge to counter and tell him that I was shot at plenty of times too, but I didn’t. If I had, he probably would have said he was shot at more times or who knows what.
I had a client I’ll call Ted. At the age of 18 he was gung-ho and joined the Marines. He wanted to get into the action and especially become one of the brotherhood of combat Marines. After boot camp, despite his protesting, he was sent to cook school. He tried to get out of it, but that’s what the Marine Corps needed at the time so he was stuck. He was told he could get out of it later. He was sent to Vietnam and stationed in Quang Tri up by the DMZ. He worked in the mess hall as a cook. Even though the base camp was close to the beach area, there were no facilities like a PX or R&R facilities. It was a very dangerous place. Being so close to North Vietnam, the enemy routinely fired artillery and lobbed rockets into the base camp. He said almost on a daily basis he had to drop whatever he was doing and run for the bunker. The mess hall, being a primary structure where large numbers of Marines gathered, was specifically targeted by the enemy.
Ted said the other Marines constantly complained about the food and often blamed him. So instead of being one with the “brothers” he felt put down and unappreciated. He took a course to become a helicopter door gunner in order to get out of the mess hall and into the action, but when he put in for it he was denied, He finished his tour as a cook, came home with a serious case of PTSD and got out of the Marines even though he had planned to make a career of it.
After working with him for over a year in individual sessions, I suggested he enter one of the groups. I argued that he would find that veterans in the groups are accepting of each other and I thought that his feeling part of a group would help with his deep feelings of alienation from other veterans, especially Marines. Finally after a bit of persuasion he agreed and attended one of my groups. We began the group with routine introductions which consisted of your branch of service, where you were stationed and what your job was. This was hard for Ted because of his fear of being put down by other veterans. He did a good job of introducing himself as we had practiced. The only other Marine in the group introduced himself as a rifleman, said he was out in the field his whole time in country, and that he was hit with shrapnel blinding him in one eye, and then he looked right at Ted and said, “When we needed a break from our maneuvers, we used to take R&R at your base camp.” Ted didn’t say anything for a few moments and then erupted. “You f’ing grunts think you’re the only guys who saw any action. I don’t know where you went for R&R, but there were no facilities where I was and you probably would have been blown up by a rocket if you were there. All you f’ing grunts are alike.” He stood up and stormed out, never to return. The marine felt bad that Ted got so upset, “But we did take R&R where he was in Quang Tri. There wasn’t too much there, but at least we got away from humping the hills in the bush.”
I had to call Ted and talk him back into individual counseling. He returned and we continued our work together. My attempt to integrate him with other veterans blew up in my face and in his. Ted and I talked a lot about this phenomenon of feeling like his experience doesn’t stand up to the experience of other veterans. I don’t think he will ever get over it. Today in the laundry I felt a special closeness to Ted. I don’t know if I will get involved with other veterans or not. Avoidance has worked so well for me in the past.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Rainy, Cold, and Comfortably Nostalgic

Painting by K. Yeager

A cold wind blew in yesterday and completely reversed our long stretch of 80 degree weather. We took a walk in the early evening and the people we passed all commented on how cold it was. The temperature was probably in the mid to upper 50’s and there was a little moisture in the air. Some of our fellow walkers looked like they were bundled up for a Nordic expedition. I’m not kidding. Two ladies we passed wore woolen caps, heavy jackets and mittens. I had on a sweatshirt and Katie a pullover sweater. We were walking fast and shivering a little and I hate to admit it but those two ridiculous looking women did appear happy and warm.
Last night the rain came in with a vengeance and we needed an extra blanket. It pounded on our patio most of the night and I remembered how nice it is to snuggle in bed for warmth. It’s cloudy and drizzly today and I’m thinking about the Northwest. I broke out some of my moldy smelling northwest clothes, heavy dark pants, a long sleeve shirt and jacket. They felt as comfortable as my skin. The sky is completely overcast and it is drizzling. I’m in very familiar territory.
Can you believe, people here in the desert complain about the rain? That definitely should be outlawed. Complaining about the rain makes sense in Washington and Oregon and especially on the Olympic peninsula. In Green Valley when it rains it’s like a ghost town. The few people who are out are either dashing into stores or into their cars. Of course there are the dog walkers, cursing and tugging at the leash while their little pooch is desperately trying to decide which cactus to pee on.
We are such creatures of habit. I guess whatever we’re familiar with is what we like. In the northwest when the sun shines it’s glorious. Everybody is out and trying to make the most of it. But after several days people take on a wild, frenzied, weary look. “We can’t continue this pursuit of fun and happiness much longer.” Then, sure enough, the clouds roll back in and even though they would never admit it, everyone is relieved. Finally back to normal. That’s how I’m feeling today. I’m sitting in a Barnes and Noble in Tucson having a latte and life is familiar and good.
I have to admit that knowing tomorrow will be sunny, dry and back into the 80’s helps me to savor this nostalgic mental trip back to the northwest.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Passive Observer of Nature

To increase the quality of our retirement experience, Katie and I are attempting to take a more active interest in the natural world around us. We’ve always enjoyed the outdoors but have been what you might call passive observers of nature. This is evident in our attempts at bird watching. The birds need to come relatively close to us and then hold still for a little while if we are going to observe them. We quickly lose patience with uncooperative birds. Our motivation intensifies if the bird is colorful. We don’t spend much time looking at grey and brown birds. Happily, many of the birds of southern Arizona seem colorful or unique, at least to novice birders like us. The birds need to work a little on their cooperative behavior, however.
To help further our naturalist endeavors, last week we went to Madera Canyon for a guided nature hike. The guide was the head of volunteer educators for the canyon and he proved to be extremely knowledgeable about the plants, animals and geology of the area. Most of what he told us I’ve already forgotten. For some reason I can’t keep a lot of these facts about the environment in my head. Katie has a special interest in local plants and so while the guide talked, she busily wrote plant names in her little book.
The guide knew that some of us were interested in birds, so whenever one was spotted, he would identify it and then tell us a little about its behavior. Once when someone in the group spotted a bird soaring in the sky, the guide swiftly lifted his binoculars up to his eyes, gazed for a second or two and then said “Coopers Hawk”. I stood there after the group had already moved on, fumbling around with my binoculars trying to find the damn thing. I could spot it with the naked eye, but each time I tried to find it in my binoculars I saw nothing but blue space.
I caught up with the group down by the stream. Someone else noticed a bird flitting around in a tree. The guide said it was a Ruby Crowned Kinglet. He didn’t even use his binoculars this time. He said he could tell by the way it moved. I saw it jumping around in the tree. Every time I had it in my view, it jumped to another branch and I had to relocate him. I can see why Audubon shot the birds in order to get a good look. I did manage to get fleeting glimpses of it though. I noticed it was a small bird with some yellow on its underside, darker on the back and had big eyes. Later I looked it up in our bird book. There are so many little yellowish birds in this area I could never have positively identified it from my brief look. Then a flock of Mexican Jays flew into the trees near our group. The guide had us watch them for a while. He asked us to notice their behavior as a group. He told us that the dominant male and female mate and the junior members help protect and feed the babies.
There are a few birds I am getting more familiar with. For example there is a bird that seems to be everywhere around Green Valley. I heard it before I ever saw it. It has a call that sounds like the way my dad used to whistle to wake my sister and me up in the morning. For a long time I just called it the “Dad Bird”. One day I heard its call and was determined to find it. I spotted it sitting on top of a Barrel Cactus doing its “dad-bird” call. It’s a medium sized brown bird and the bill is slightly curved. I looked for it in the book and I think it might be a Bendire’s Thrasher.
Identifying birds has both a positive and negative side. Once I know a bird well, like a Robin or a House Finch or a Sparrow (actually I shouldn’t include Sparrow as I’ve noticed there are many different kinds with really subtle differences between them), I tend to quickly identify it and then not give it another thought. For example, after the guided nature hike, Katie and I stopped at a local coffee shop. While sitting having our lattes she spotted some birds flying in and out of a Saguaro cactus across the street. I grabbed my binoculars and positioned myself in a chair out front across from the cactus. I focused the binoculars on the hole in the cactus and sat patiently waiting for the mystery bird to appear. Finally a dark bird flew quickly into the hole and then out again. It flew over to where I was sitting and landed about ten feet away from my chair. It then began rooting around in the gravel. It was a Starling or as they are sometimes called “a rat with wings”. I felt disappointed and stopped watching and shifted my attention to my rapidly diminishing latte.
The other evening my neighbor, a former university professor of geography, and his wife were sitting out on their patio. I stopped to talk with them and noticed binoculars lying on the table. I asked what he was looking at and he said he’d been watching a couple of Ravens building a nest in the big tree across the yard. “I’ve been watching their progress for several days now.” My thought was that once I realized it was only a couple of noisy Ravens, I wouldn’t have continued observing them. But yet he was keenly interested in their activities. There is a qualitative difference between how my neighbor and the guide in Madera Canyon look at nature and how I look at it. They don’t have to work so hard at motivating themselves like I do. They are genuinely interested in the natural world around them, like the true scientists they are.
There is another bird I am trying to identify. It has a very obnoxious way of chattering at about 5:30 every morning. I’m thinking about using the Audubon method to identify this particular specimen.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Cruising Around in Cars

At a recent concert Katie and I attended, one of the two cowboy singers jokingly remarked, “I hear there are two kinds of transportation here in Green Valley, golf carts and ambulances.” He forgot to mention Buicks. I’ve never seen so many Buicks in one place. There are old ones and new ones and all are driven by people I would estimate to be 75 and older. Who’s going to drive all these Buicks when they’re gone.
In the US our cars are not simply a primary form of transportation, but a bold and visible statement about who we are as individuals. I’ve liked cars since I was a kid. Growing up I knew every car on our block. Most were family type cars and not very exciting. Mr. and Mrs. Howard, the elderly couple who lived right next door had a 1956 Plymouth with no radio. They were a wonderful older couple, in fact they were like grandparents to me, but no radio? The first exciting car I remember on our street was a black 1954 Chevy Bel Air convertible. It had thin white pin striping around the front and back Chevrolet emblems and two shiny chrome exhaust pipes sticking out the back end. It was owned by a teenager named Jay who lived up the street. He didn’t have it for very long. He traded it in for a white 1957 Chevy with a continental kit. This was also a great car, but that ‘54 Chevy was my favorite. It was a big chunk of a car with chrome on the sides and shined up like a piece of onyx. Jay looked very cool driving it too.
The first car I bought after turning 16 was a disaster. It was a 1954 Ford sedan. I bought it from a friend’s father for $50 and it lasted less than a week. Several of my friends came over to experience its maiden voyage. I had cleaned it up inside and out and it looked pretty good for an old family sedan. The guys piled in with high expectations and off we went to cruise through the local hamburger stand. We hadn’t traveled more than two blocks from my house when a loud metallic noise stopped the car dead in its tracks. We all got out and looked under the hood. None of us knew much about mechanics, but couldn’t miss the metal rod sticking out of the engine block. It was obvious the engine was ruined. I paid $25 to have it towed to the junk yard.
Shortly after this incident my parents bought a brand new 1964 Chevy Malibu Super Sport. It was pale yellow with black interior, bucket seats and 4 on the floor. It had a 283 cubic inch V-8. I remember wishing they had gotten the 326. Instead of the small chrome V on the side front quarter panels, it would have had the two rally flags just like the corvettes. The 326 was way more power than this small light car warranted, but I guess that was the point. I didn’t feel I had very much personal power at this stage of my life. I was small, thin and looked young for my age. With the purchase of the Malibu, my family for the first time owned two cars. Both my mom and dad worked and each needed their own transportation. Our other car was a Volkswagen bug. I was not allowed to drive the Malibu whenever I wanted, but if I was doing what I was supposed to be doing, like chores and homework, my parents occasionally let me drive it.
Cruising around in cars was the main weekend evening activity for high school kids, unless you had a date, which I rarely did. So mainly it was getting together with friends, listening to the radio and looking for some “action”, which we rarely found. All cruising behavior in our area ended up at the Jennings Steak ‘n Shake. Each suburban community had a specific place where local kids would gather. Usually it was a hamburger stand and the Steak ‘n Shake restaurants were perfect for this activity. The restaurant was in the middle of a wrap around parking area. The teenage cruising etiquette was to enter on the right side of the building and then drive around in a counter clockwise fashion. The cars backed in away from and facing the restaurant. This was somewhat of a challenge for new less experienced drivers. With the eyes of the other kids riveted on you, you had to back into a relatively small space with one decisive and fluid motion. If a car horn suddenly honked, you could bet that some poor fool misjudged his back in and nearly slammed into another car, very humiliating. Once safely parked, a carhop came out to take the food orders. Often the carhops were kids we knew from school.
One weekend evening I was allowed to take the Malibu. None of my friends were available, so I went out alone. That particular night all the spaces at Steak 'n Shake were taken and all the cars seemed full of energetic kids. On the way out from my pass around the circle, I met another car coming in the opposite direction. I had to swerve to the right to avoid him. Our two cars ended up side by side. I could have reached over and touched the guy driving. He was older and appeared to be what we called back then, a greaser. My friends and I wore our hair hanging down in front like the Beach Boys. His hair was combed back, Elvis style, and his short sleeves were rolled up exposing an impressive bicep. He looked a lot like my neighbor Jay. He was driving a stripped down ‘56 Ford, no chrome, no paint, just bare grey metal. The car had big oversized tires in the back. It pulsated like a giant heart. I was irritated that he almost caused an accident and felt justified to tell him that. After all he was going in the wrong way. Our eyes met and I noticed a relaxed and confidant look on his face. Before I had a chance to set him straight, he said to me in a not unfriendly way “Hey hotshot, did daddy let you have the car tonight?” I quickly replied with something lame like, “No, this is really my car.” But he just smiled and pulled ahead. I decided to go home that night. Cruising wasn’t much fun alone.
Lately I’ve been cruising around Green Valley listening to the oldies station and trying to avoid the golf carts, ambulances and Buicks.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Final Game of the Tucson Cactus League

Katie and I went to one Cactus League spring training baseball game in Tucson. It was between the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks at Hi Corbett Field, where the Rockies have based themselves since 1993. It turned out to be the last game of the spring training season and the last game ever for the Cactus League in Tucson. Major league baseball has had spring training in Tucson since 1946 when the Cleveland Indians came here. They stayed until 1992. It all began at Hi Corbett Field. The Diamondbacks have been basing themselves at the Kino Sports Complex since 1998 when the franchise began, along with the Chicago White Sox, who moved north in 2008. Next year all the Cactus League teams will be in the Phoenix area. Colorado and Arizona will occupy a brand new stadium in Scottsdale and no longer have to ride a bus back and forth to play the other teams.
We are not avid baseball fans, but thought it would be fun to see at least one game. Little did we know it would be the very last game played here. It wasn’t much of a game, not much action and low scoring. All but two of the players were unknown to me. Jason Giambi played for Colorado. He was a great player for the Oakland Athletics and then the Yankees before that. The other player was Matt Williams who wasn’t playing at all. He must have retired while I ignored baseball and was now the first base coach for the Diamondbacks. He also had been a great all around player and power hitter. Both of these guys admitted to using steroids. Williams didn’t make it into the Hall of Fame when nominated, probably because of it.
In the history of baseball, people will look back on the Steroid Era and judge the players and the records they hold differently. Maybe in the stats there will be an “*” or “S” next to the number meaning “Achieved while on Steroids”. Many great players and record holders, which include Mark McGuire, Sammy Sosa, Alex Rodriguez, Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds, bear careers tainted by performance enhancing drug use. I feel bad for these players. They got caught up in something that was unique to their time. Along with Pete Rose, who succumbed to gambling, I believe these players would have been great anyway. They are the sacrificial lambs that helped clean up baseball--for the future.
Baseball was the most popular sport of the 1950s and early 1960s. I don’t remember following baseball all that closely then either. My dad used to listen to the Cardinals’ games on the radio. I liked hearing them in the background while he did chores around the house or relaxed with a beer on a hot summer evening.
However, I loved playing baseball as a kid. Most summers I played on a little league team. I wasn’t a great player, but adequate. I played third base which was called the “hot box”. Most kids were right handed and when they really connected with the ball, hard hit grounders and line drives flew right at the third baseman. I practiced long and hard and was serious about the game. The highlight of my baseball career was playing in the Little League all star game at Busch Stadium. They put me in the outfield for this game. My biggest fear was that I would embarrass the team playing with kids who were much better than I was. I didn’t. I caught everything that came my way, made good throws and the two times I was up to bat I walked and got a single. Those pitchers could throw the ball fast and had perfected the curve ball. Funny, I can’t remember if our team won or not.
My hero in those years was Stan “the man” Musial. He played left field and first base for the Cardinals and did everything well. He was not a grand stander, but played with humility and grace. A lefty, he had an unusual batting style. Keeping his feet close together, his whole body made a subtle circular motion. It looked like he was winding up his energy and boy, could he hit! I looked up his career stats and he had a lifetime batting average of .331, for career total bases he is second behind Hank Aaron, 9th for runs scored, 4th for career hits and 2nd for doubles. On all the records that demonstrate consistent hitting throughout a career, his name is up at the top.
On one summer evening, my dad planned to take my friend Paul and I to his restaurant in St. Louis, Stan and Biggies. We wanted to meet our hero. As luck would have it, I got sick and couldn’t go. They went anyway and Paul got a chance to meet him getting an autographed picture that to this day he likes to show me. I probably could have arranged to go back another time. For some reason I always think of this as a once in a lifetime missed opportunity. I think Stan still owns the restaurant to this day.
My son, Ben, and I tried to follow baseball in the ‘80s. It is a time consuming hobby. We petered out after a season or two. The games are so long and there was entirely too much talking, spitting and scratching to continue to hold our interest. I’ve always admired people who follow a team and know all the players though.
Katie and I didn’t quite make it to the end of this final Cactus League game. In about the 5th inning a fly ball was hit our way. Everyone around us jumped up and threw their hands into the air. We couldn’t find it and we were certain it was coming down on our heads. The boy next to Katie in all the excitement kicked over his strawberry squishy and for the rest of the game there was a sticky mess at our feet. The fly ball didn’t hit us, but our butts were sore from the hard bench seats and still very little action in the game. Our minds started to drift to where we were going to go out to dinner and before you no it we were on our way out of the stadium. I was hoping this game would spark my desire to follow baseball more closely. But man those games are long.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Back to Ferguson

Paul and I admiring the pastries at Sondereggers'  Bakery on our way to downtown Ferguson

A few years ago I had the opportunity to return to Ferguson, Missouri, the town where I grew up, with my friend Paul. We’ve known each other since we were nine. We went to the same elementary school, were both in cub scouts and played on the same little league team. In the mid 60s Paul went away to college and I went into the Army. Neither of us returned to live in Ferguson.
In the ‘50s when we were growing up, Ferguson still had the feel of a small Missouri town. The lakes froze over in the winters for ice skating and in the summers we swam in the town’s public pool, rode our bikes and played baseball. But what Paul and I most looked forward to was sleeping over at each other’s house on Friday nights and then on Saturday morning walking to downtown Ferguson.
The trip took less than an hour from my house. We talked the whole time. I don’t remember the content of those conversations-- probably typical pre-teen subjects like current TV shows, comic book characters or some new toy we wanted. We passed by the giant oak tree on Nancy St., cut through Jeske Park where we first played little league baseball, across a four lane street and through several neighborhoods until we spilled out into the parking lot of the medical building. Entering the back door and exiting the front put us right across from the library, fire station and Sonderagers Bakery. The smell of fresh bakery goods often drew us in. To this day these German pastries serve as a standard that is rarely met in my adult quest for an apple strudel, cheesecake. stollen or crème filled torte. Our main destination was Quillman’s Drug Store where we could buy a fountain cherry coke, with extra cherry syrup.
We would sit up at the Formica counter on the chrome and vinyl stools that swiveled completely around, across from the shiny chrome soda fountain dispensers. Directly behind us was the comic book rack with all the latest comics. We were not allowed to spin around on the stools or take the comics off the rack. We knew the rules.
Our next destination was the Ben Franklin Five 'n' Dime, where we meticulously examimed all the toys and trinkets, usually purchasing something like a small caste iron car or baseball cards. The entire trip took most of the morning.
When Paul and I returned to Ferguson as adults, we were in our 50s. We parked in my old neighborhood. The houses looked small and close together. First we walked up to Lee Hamilton elementary school. The kids were just lining up outside to load onto the buses. We waited a few minutes before going in. It was a strange experience, everything looked miniaturized. The building and classrooms had not been altered much over the years. I had the feeling I was experiencing something from another lifetime lived long ago, yet so familiar.
As we walked in the hall, one of the male teachers approached, “I heard there were some old guys wandering around.” He looked about 10 years younger than us. I had the fleeting thought, I’ll show him who’s an old guy. He was probably the history/gym teacher and could have cleaned my clock. Besides he had the authority to send me to the Principal’s office. My adult, adolescent and little kid brain were all going at the same time. Luckily the adult brain stayed in control and I continued to behave like a 54-year-old man.
All around us were sights, smells and sounds evoking strong memories, the bathroom where we hid from the bullies, the stair wall on the side of the building where I jumped off to the rocks below, learning the life long lesson never do anything on a dare, the heaters on which we softened hunks of clay to throw against the walls where they would stick, simultaneously yelling “Pooperdoo!”. As we talked to the teacher, I had the odd feeling that he might have heard about some of our childhood shenanigans and maybe we shouldn't linger too long.
Paul discovered his 6th grade classroom had been split in two and now was an office. The secretary told us she had lived in Ferguson her whole life. My first thought was, how sad that she had been stuck in this small town. I asked her if she had known my favorite teacher from the 5th grade, Mr. Atkins. She said he retired a few years ago and he had recently died. She seemed to know exactly why I was asking. She said that two of her kids had him for a teacher as well. I felt sad that I'd never taken the opportunity to tell him how much he meant to me and how often I’d thought of him over the years. By the time we left the school, my thoughts had changed. How lucky she was to have been able to stay in Ferguson all these years.
We left the school and began our trek to the downtown area, just like we had done so many times as kids. The big Oak tree across from the park was gone. No trace of it remained. A wide sidewalk wound its way through the park and a sturdy railing followed it close to the creek. Did we really need to be protected from falling into the creek where we used to spend hours playing and exploring? The baseball field and backstop looked the same. We'd both started out in little league there. Paul remembered his very first game. He hadn’t purchased a glove yet, but the coach stuck him in the outfield anyway. He said, “I started my baseball career afraid I’d be hit in the head and killed by a fly ball.” When I started out, I remember sitting on the bench watching Jimmy, the pitcher, throw very fast curve balls to BillyBob, the catcher. I was in awe of their confidence and skill. I sat on the bench most of that first year.
Downtown Ferguson was barely recognizable. The main street through town was 4 lanes and the traffic non-stop. Quillman’s was a Chinese restaurant and Ben Franklin was gone. We recognized most of the old brick buildings, but all the shops were different and uninteresting. The town had definitely lost its charm. Several pedestrians stopped and politely listened as we rambled on about what the town used to be like, “Right in this field behind us the Catholics had their Friday night fish fry. And in the summer the traveling carnival set up there.” “Across the street over there was the Velvet Freeze ice cream shop and on the corner, Luby’s restaurant where our families ate out occasionally.” “And over there was the department store where we bought all our school clothes.” I’m sure they were utterly fascinated by our astute memories and observations.
On the way back to the car we walked through January Wabash Park. The swimming pool looked pretty much the same except there was no more high diving board. Paul remembered, “That cement area around the pool would be covered with bodies. You had to get there early, get in and out of the water fast in order to find a space to lie down on the hot concrete.” I remember once coming out of the pool and being punched in the face by a kid I didn’t know. He said he didn’t like me and wham! I was upset an shocked. How could he not like me? Across the lawn was the small amphitheater where outdoor movies were shown on summer evenings. Paul pointed to the spot where he first made out with the hot little cheerleader he was dating in high school. He was lingering in that memory until we rounded the recreation center and an earlier one replaced it. "That's where Mike C. used to beat me up everyday at summer camp."
Our trip back to Ferguson was in 2002. We had both taken time out from our “important” lives to re-turn the place of our childhood. It was a time before the '60s cultural revolution, before Vietnam, before the Internet and cell phones and before we became “serious, responsible adults”. Now we're both in our 60s and it feels like time once again to experience life as a wondrous adventure.