In search of story



The email came a few days ago: he was in a nursing home and not expected to live much longer. That tall skinny kid with the close-cropped curly brown hair who never could be still? Whose arms and legs were miles long and as restless as his mind? Whose motormouth was legend? Whose presence was felt even in absence? — witness “Excelsior” and “FL” scrawled on blackboards as he lurched through our world. Whose protest song, “…back to back, belly to belly, well, I don’t give a damn…,” wafted over our heads? HE is in a nursing home?

And thus does memory distort and taunt. That verbal Riverdance, without a static cell in his body, left his imprint over fifty years ago. That kid is not in the nursing home. The man cancer made of him is in the nursing home.

I took out a notecard with a picture of a Tiffany window: “Summer” — deep magentas and purples as vital and exuberant as that summertime of life when we were barely adults and had only the looking forward. I wrote a few words to him, but there were really no words, only pen marks. I should have sent him an envelope of silence; it would have had more meaning.

Sputnik christened our freshman year. We were wrested out of the 50s and into the 60s by forces barely imaginable. That bright, intense kid seems the emblem of that life’s summertime, turned so quickly arid by war.

One day in that pre-war summertime, he told me I had great legs, which he likened to an inner latch in a coffin. Today, as I admire their varicose palette, not unlike those Tiffany colors, I hear his wisecrack and I remember the summer. Thanks, David.

4 thoughts on “Summer

  1. That brought it all back to me, too. My high school flame’s name was David and he had a hysterical sense of humor. Then, after we parted ways, he disappeared off the map. So, to me, he’s still young, tall, homely and really, really funny. And if he’s alive today, incredibly “old.” Your David was felled by cancer. It’s nice that our memories remain fresh and loyal to the essential young person we remember.

    And by the way, maybe your cardinal is related to my solitary cardinal who continues to throw him/herself at my window each morning?

    • I love your observation about how our memories remain loyal to the essential young person.

      So we each had a significant David in high school; I can see how the one would invoke memories of the other. The David in my blog was not an old flame, but he sure was a fire burning bright! We were lucky to have known such people as we grew up.

      Good grief, your cardinal is still bashing against your window? That proves conclusively he’s a writer.

  2. The whole of this is wonderful tribute: the verbal Riverdance, Tiffany window, an envelope of silence. You have captured a soul and a time in perfect memory that will help ease the present pain. So sorry that these emails have to be sent and received. Hugs, Maureen.

    • Thanks, Tamara. Sometimes writing helps. And it certainly helps to have your response and Shirah’s.

      Though I have known of David’s cancer for many years, I was still caught off-guard by the image of him so weakened. His was one of those bigger-than-life personalities that seem invulnerable, and I forget that high school was so long ago.

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