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Picture of the Day
Wednesday
January 23, 2019

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After a week of frigid temps it got weird warm today, 43º, dirt road hard-packed snow melted into rainslick ice, slush at the ditch skid fringes. 4WD gets you going but doesn't necessarily help you stop and I experimented with tolerances, enjoyed controlled slides on roads devoid of school buses because the kids got a snowday, which in Michigan is saying something. My day revolved around this borrowed motor vehicle--groceries and gasoline. Filled up at Costco for $1.89/gallon and wondered what the low price meant, then hit Midas for an overdue oil change. The cashier/manager, 6 years sober, spoke at length, misty-eyed, about his best friend who retired April 1st with enough money to last until he was 99 but died four months later. Travels with Charley audio book cassette seemed a fit companion, the early passages eerily echoing the sorry story I'd just been told: During the previous winter I had become rather seriously ill with one of those carefully named difficulties which are the whispers of approaching age. When I came out of it I received the usual lecture about slowing up, losing weight, limiting the cholesterol intake. It happens to many men, and I think doctors have memorized the litany. It had happened to so many of my friends. The lecture ends, “Slow down. You’re not as young as you once were.”



 

 
 

 
Steinbeck's wish to see the country and meet its populace inspired me to
seek out company and I fell in with some geezers (like me!), talking tools
and trampolines in a bar staffed by women only, as if cast by Fellini, all the screens tuned to sports interspersed with ads for ED. Life's a trip, and as Steinbeck says, we don't take trips--trips take us. His words seem brave or perhaps, to some, hazardous: For I have always lived violently, drunk hugely, eaten too much or not at all, slept around the clock or missed two nights of sleeping, worked too hard and too long in glory, or slobbed for a time in utter laziness. I've lifted, pulled, chopped, climbed, made love with joy and taken my hangovers as a consequence, not as a punishment.
It's strange to have read these words at 19 only to revisit them 30 years later. What happened in between?