If I had a time machine, I’d go back rather than forward; I think most people would. I’d go to the soccer field on Sunday morning when was eight and I’d shoot on goal before the game started. I’d go to my first apartment and lie on my twin bed. I’d go to my first office job with the Controller who scared me the first five times I met him. I’d sit around the table with friends over beers and stories which got better after every round. I’d take my Fiero with a full passenger seat on a Friday night mission to nowhere. But none of those things is the thing I’d do first. You know what I’d do first? I’d go to see her, just after she met him, when I could have had her forever with a look and a too close hug. And we’d lie hip to hip on the hood of my car. And she’d let me know that if it didn't work out with our relationships, I’d have too come up with the most romantic way to propose.
My first job was working in a warehouse and I took it way too seriously. My boss knew this and he couldn’t increase my pay, but he did throw me a bone every once in a while. When the bigwigs came for a lunch meeting, he sent me to get the pizzas which involved me walking out into the mall, ordering the pizzas, waiting for them by walking around the mall for an hour, then bringing them back to the meeting room. They had me hand them the pizzas right there at the door and they never did let me in. Then I went back upstairs and sat around with my coworkers and we told stories about what we imagined they did with the pizzas. We had more than a few versions, but this is my favorite: they spread the pizzas out on the floor, took off their three piece suits (all adults wore three-piece suits back then), then they rolled around naked on the pizzas. It’s been thirty years since I first made a pizza run, and even now, I can’t order a slice without being reminded of it. And you think that would ruin it for me.
I once considered buying a house on Johnson Road. The house wasn't so impressive and the fact that my friends lived around the corner didn't move the needle either; it was the address. The number on the house was 9 and that didn’t have any special appeal but paired with the street name, that was what grabbed me. No one mails letters anymore but I would have, just to write 9 and Johnson together, and I would have made one addition: I would put a “ after the 9 to read 9” Johnson…Road, and it would have been perfect, until I met the guy who lived at #13.
My Honda died, well not dead dead, just dead enough. I bought it from a friend, a former friend and he’s dead too, dead enough. The death was unexpected; things were strained for a while, and even though I thought things could keep on going forever, they just suddenly stopped, and I was stranded.
I’ve had Hondas before, well Honda, okay, it was an Acura, and I sold it at 300,000 miles; my sales pitch was to put the buyer in the passenger seat and get it to 110 mph in fourth gear, and it was a five speed. A year or so earlier, I had parked it in another friend’s driveway next to two other Hondas, they really were Hondas, and we had 660,000 miles of Hondas side-by-side-by-side.
She said, "This one's for you," but it wasn't and we were running out of songs and it's not because we were Fanilows. Even now I know I knew it was magic and we were more than ships in the night. There were rain drops between us then and us now and she was taking a chance in case tomorrow never comes and the old song was her smile or wink or shared shoulder. If we can hang on, we'll be ready to be just one voice, somewhere down the road.
Losing family obliges to find our family and not just the family that is our blood but the family who can become our blood. And if we have the wisdom to open the door to this new family, we’ll find that the wishes we once had for the brother, who we looked up to, and for the sister who helped guide us, and for the children, who inspired us, and we’re left saying I wished I had done this or I wish I had said that and we find ourselves apart with nothing but memories scattered like knick-knacks or Newton's apple yet grateful and somewhat ahead for having known them, if only for a little while.
I have one of those names that if I spell it for people, they get offended but if I don’t, they spell it wrong. It’s not an overly complicated name or one that’s uncommon. It’s not too long at just five letters and there are famous people who don it. It's not like Aimee or Jeanie or Genia or Marc or Sean or Derick or Michel and I'm not a Michael who hates being called Mikey or Mick or even Mike. I can’t tell you the numbers of times I’ve walked around with a “My Name Is” sticker on my shirt with the wrong name in permanent Sharpie. I’ve been called Greg and I can see the confusion there. But it’s been Graig and Creg (is that really a name?) and Crag (which I don’t blame on people as I do have chiseled features and a rock-hard physique) and Frank….wtf? Frank, really? It’s not that Frank is a bad name, it’s just not mine. And it seems there really is no solution and no real way to be constantly and consistently called by my correct name, that is unless I get a job with a name on my shirt; and this is assuming that the guy who makes the shirt labels will spell it correctly.