I've been thinking quite a bit about time lately and, having reached my 62nd birthday this year, it occurs to me that I'm now living on the borrowed variety.
Never one to plan too far ahead, my journey continues to surprise me.
Born into a nomadic existence, it was not unusual for me, as a young child, to go to sleep in San Francisco and wake up in Montana, Oregon or any number of other places. It’s no wonder I now prefer to stay put. Dad was frequently and mostly absent from my life, but in my early years my mother would attempt to reunite with him wherever he happened to be and I was among the baggage she carted around on those ventures. When I finally reached school age, Mom chose me over Dad and an upper unit of a four-plex in San Mateo, California, became the first actual home I can remember.
Those were the days of “Romper Room,” polio shots with those primitive, big-ass needles, and my first group of real girlfriends; Francis, Charlene and Marcia. At last I felt like I belonged somewhere. Each day, we would don our identical maroon jumpers layered over crisp white blouses, lace up our freshly-polished oxfords and off we’d go to St. Matthew’s Catholic School. Mom had decided that I should get some religion, lest my unbaptized soul end up in a place called “Limbo” which, in my teen years, would become a dance craze.
While my indoctrination into Catholicism would last only until the third grade, that was long enough to instill a lifetime’s worth of guilt. Teaching a young kid that a guy had to die a gruesome death because of their sins can leave quite an impression, especially when administered by stern women dressed in black carrying knuckle-cracking rulers. A certain amount of guilt is not a bad thing though. Because of it, I’ve managed to avoid any serious crimes of duplicity in my lifetime, and I strongly believe a stint in Catholic school should be a prerequisite for anyone wishing to run for public office.
When I was about nine, my mother was fixed up by her well-meaning sisters with a kind man who would, for awhile, become my step-father and, once again, my life was uprooted. The blue-collar neighborhood that would be my home through high school was a few miles away in the town of San Carlos named after Saint Charles but, blessedly, I was spared any more time in Catholic school. It was here that I formed my first political alliance, pedaling my blue Schwinn around the neighborhood in my “JFK for President” hat, completely unaware of the heartbreak that was to come.
I’ve made a dozen moves since then, each a very distinct chapter in my life with beginnings, middles and, of course, endings; each shaping me into the person I have become today. Some friends have remained for the entire journey. Others have touched my life and moved on.
Having just completed a move from a home I lived in for 17 years, I’m now beginning a new and, let’s face it, quite possibly final chapter. If my time runs out tomorrow, I can’t complain. I’ve been hugely blessed along the way. But I’d like to stick around for a while, borrow a few more years if that’s cool with the Universe. I still have lessons to learn, lives to touch and be touched by and, with apologies to Mother Superior, a little more hell to raise before I’m ready to close the book on this particular lifetime.
This morning I was perusing Facebook and I came upon a friend’s posting. It said, “I want to go back to bed,” and made me think of all the days I simply pissed away with no thought that they were in limited supply. Maybe I had to reach this age to appreciate that that which is borrowed will one day be called upon to be returned.