Sunday, October 11, 2009

From King Douglas

A first word, then another, coaxing from dusty memories feelings and facts to share with you and others as you cross another milestone. Milestone...a good word, reminiscent of signs along old Route 66.

Mile 1: Hungry vet
Mile 2: No food in sight
Mile 3: No home, no place
Mile 4: To spend the night
Mile 5: Burma Shave

I remember one night in Montreal when you bought one of those signs. "How much for the sign?" you asked a young homeless person. "Ten bucks," he said defiantly. You reached for your wallet. "Twenty bucks!" he shouted, quickly adjusting the price to take into account new information. I watched the delicate negotiation as you closed another deal.

That trip to Montreal in September 2003, shortly after the death of your mother, was a highlight reel for me and what fun we had: going to see "Fosse" at the Place des Arts the same evening we arrived in Montreal--we were inspired; followed by the irony of our own improvisational dance performance at the Musee de Beaux-Artes; the long walk we took in the university district (that night you bought the homeless sign) that ended with your having steak tartare (moo!) at L'Express; at breakfast the next day when you protested, "How can we get a good breakfast at a place that calls itself Eggspectations?"; your discriminating choices from the sushi menu at Na Go Ya and the portrait of me that you drew on the paper table cover (and which, to my regret, we left there); and of course, our great visit to the Cirque du Soleil headquarters during their once-a-year open house.

We learned a lot about each other on that trip and I learned so many things from you, especially about how to see the world. "Here, put these on," you might have said to me, offering me a very cool pair of Willie Glasses. "They're for seeing things you don't expect to see." And that was just how it was.

Milestones, we've shared a few, but but even one is not too few to mention. What a great thing to have shared with a good friend experiences that can be recalled with deep satisfaction, wistfulness and gratitude.

So here's another milestone, to which my first response is to say, "Oh, to be 50 again!" I'm proud to have been your friend for so long...going on 30 years now, and I still learn from you each time we get together. Happy birthday, my great and youthful friend!

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