Dateline: 22 July 2014
Winnowing away the ephemera of my life brought me back to some of the best memories of my life. Many of those memories center around the sweetness of a young love that has now endured the test of time.
The picture above shows Marlene and I as we were 38 years ago. It was taken in the hall outside the auditorium of our high school. We were voted "class couple" in our senior year. I'm not sure how that came about, as there were much more popular couples in our class.
That picture was taken for the yearbook, but it never made it into the yearbook. Somehow I ended up with it, and I will keep it as long as I live.
I'll also keep the girl in that picture as long as I live, or, as the covenant vow we made states: "till death do us part."
Many of you have read my story of young love, and marriage, and continued love in The Wife of My Youth. That essay mentions Marlene's smile—how it "makes my heart glad and lifts my spirits."
|Marlene at Owasco Lake Park in 1977|
Well, there it is. That's the smile that, when directed at me, made me feel like I was the luckiest guy in the world. I realize now that I wasn't lucky. I was profoundly blessed.
This next picture shows yours truly in the summer of 1977…
|Ed and Me in my parent's yard, just before heading up to Vermont. |
My dog's name was Shadow.
I'm with my buddy, Ed Bais. If you're a long-time reader of this blog, you might recall the story I wrote back in 2005 about the time When Me & Ed Made Apple Cider.
Ed and I had been classmates at The Grassroots Project in Vermont. School was over (it was a one-year program) and everyone had gone home. But some of the students planned to go back to Vermont in the summer for the Craftsbury Fiddler's Contest. Ed borrowed his sister's car, drove from Ohio, and picked me up in New York.
We camped out one night at the fiddler's contest and spent the whole next day there. It was the closest I've come to a Woodstock experience—not what we expected for a fiddler's contest. We decided it would be best not to camp at the contest a second night and, instead, to stay with my friends, Bruce and Patty Womer, in Craftsbury Common.
I had written Bruce and Patty (this was in the days before cell phones and e-mail, mind you) to let them know I was coming back to Vermont, and Patty had written back offering me a job working for them for the rest of the summer. So Ed headed for Ohio without me (and I haven't seen him since).
That summer of '77, living and working with Bruce and Patty, would prove to be a life-changing experience for me. I wrote about it In This Essay.
It is bittersweet to be 56 years old and look at the fit and trim me when I was 19 years old. I was like a race horse in the gate at the start of a big race. I had a lot of strength, energy, stamina, and determination.
In my book, Writings of a Deliberate Agrarian, in the chapter titled Rediscovery and Remembrance, I wrote the following:
I think to myself how strong I was as a younger man. I think to myself how young men delight in the strength of their youth. I think to myself that old men delight in the memory of how strong they once were. And what of middle-aged men like me? We are looking back and looking forward and just trying to hold on to what we have, to not let it slip away.
I wrote that back in 2005. I think I've now moved beyond middle age.
I'm in good health, and mighty thankful for that…. but age is hard to take—especially when I look at the old pictures.