Life has a way of making a mess of things. All sorts of self-created speed bumps get in the way or jangle the ride. Distance and time do their best, too, to erode relationships and keep apart what had been close.
Perhaps that is what is behind my infernal preoccupation for letters to old cronies – not so much old in years – but folks I’ve known for a long while and have allowed the bridges between us to collapse. That doesn’t sit right. I don’t want to get much further down the growing-old pike without trying to rebuild or repair fences. That’s become important to me.
But the list of friends worthy of bridge repair is incredibly and impossibly long: Pete, Pat, Mike, Pam, Diana, Jim, Mort, Steve, Glen, Ben, et al. And on it goes. The letters to Dave, Jane, Bob and now Ray, are just a start, and not even a good one at that.
I refuse to use the hipper online ways of doing such. Those are too public, too cold, too lickety-split. This blog is seemingly at odds with that statement but there is a marginal difference because this is intended for a wider – but still very small – group who want to keep up with what’s written to Ellen and Reid. A week or so ago, Reid texted me to see if it was okay if some of the letters to him could be read at a literary conference in Chicago. Sure, I said, ‘but they aren’t high art.’ No problem, he replied. “It’s reality.”
My reality is that I want to re-touch lots of people who meant something to my life. I’ll keep nickle-and-diming the long and growing list.
August 2, 2011
Ray: The invitation for the October wedding I’ve been expecting has yet to show up in my mailbox. Perhaps that is a signal that my courtesy visa to Iowa has expired, along with the rights and privileges therein. I’ll keep wandering over to the mailbox in the hopes it arrives. You’ll know as soon as I do.
Just got back from five days of backpacking in Wyoming with a group of 11 that I’d assembled, and the term ‘herding cats’ comes to mind. We had a great time and comfortably overcame all of the group dynamics which no doubt you can identify and relate to. Even Ellen and her hubby, Tim, came along for the walk which was a close to a pleasure cruise of backcountry hiking as you can get. As you saw with Ellen back in our camping days in Minnesota, a premium was placed on clean sets of laundered clothes each day, and as the days wore on and she ran out of fresh stock, things approached near crisis proportions. Really, she was a good egg about it and fit in quite nicely with the troops. She’d never done anything like this before and she did a great job. When we were squatting beside the camp fires, more than once I thought of the storytelling we used to do with the kids, augmented by the occasional spewing of flammable liquor into the fire for dramatic effect at the right time in the tale. Those were the days. Caught a fair amount of trout that ended up fire-roasted with lemon pepper, so that made the otherwise bland meals palatable.
We saw a fair number of bikers up in the hills, some headed toward Sturgis, others bent on avoiding it. The assumption here is that you’ll have already come and gone by the time you read this. I miss that trip even though 24-48 hours was plenty enough time for me around the Buffalo Chip and the campgrounds. You can only see so many displays. It was the going out that had most of the appeal. Just don’t tell me you trailered your Road King. They still make t-shirts that honor that mode of travel, sort of. It’s been at least 10 years for me to make that visit. My most recent Sturgis hat reads 2001. My ’03 Heritage is still plugging along, although it’s been so damn hot here it has discouraged riding. Hopefully I’ll be able to fire the mother up in the near future. The riding is pretty good down this way if you like twisty back roads.
The only firm travel plans now on the drawing board is Thanksgiving up in St. Paul. Ellen just rejuvenated her kitchen and that will be my debut trip to see it. Reid is intent on making the trip, too, as will my girlfriend of about three years, Felicia. She’s a North Carolinian to the core. I’ve yet to acquire her twang, although I’m said to be working on it. She likes to ride the bike and we’ve been all over creation down in these parts.
Well, I’d best get back to the job that pays most of the bills. If the invitation comes through, I’ll make plans for an added day or so, probably toward the front portion of the trip. I’m sure Curt can flash-freeze pheasants and toss them in a shipping box. I’ll depend on your shooting to fill it.