Four Weeks (Part Nine)

October 24, 2008, 4:00 pm; posted by
Filed under Articles, Featured, Steve  | 4 Comments

Read the series in parts: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10

Most airports are on the outskirts of large cities, surrounded by squat tracts of industrial zoning, often abutting the discolored shores of the local lake or ocean. Flying into Ithaca was a revelation. Gliding down amid the undulating hills and rolling, cow-choked pastures, all I could see were forests and farmhouses, until suddenly, the trees opened up on a tiny stretch of asphalt: this traveler’s version of the Great Valley, with marginally fewer pterodactyls.

Tom’s car had died shortly before our trip began, and so he picked me up in mine, the ever-reliable Purpletrator. From the tiny airport, we went to his laboratory, where I donned a lab coat and posed for several pictures holding beakers, pouring liquids, and doing several other things I am manifestly unqualified for. He left me at his apartment, where I showered and laundered; once his neighbor cut off his wireless signal, I gladly succumbed to the call of the nap.

For there wouldn’t be much time to sleep. 25-cent wings were on the agenda, followed by Monday trivia at a downtown bar. When I was planning my flights, I chose Ithaca over Rochester solely for the chance to join Tom and his team. Although we fell oh-so-short of victory, my trip was not totally in vain — my evening in Ithaca led, in part, to the flowering of Tom’s nascent relationship with his triviamate. Had I not met her that night, chances are very good that I would not have given insistent pro-Lindsey advice a month down the road. The evening was also memorable for an odd phone call that found me wandering around the downtown Commons, holding my phone at arm’s length while a friend spent five solid minutes laughing at me.

It had turned to Tuesday when I drove up to Rochester, Tom asleep in the passenger seat. He then drove right back to Ithaca while I packed my suitcase to go back west — this time New Mexico, via Phoenix.

Will you mind if I don’t tell you about my week there?

Were I disciplined enough to have written all this in August, I would have recounted in detail the scenic drives, hidden lakes, pleasant dinners — even the herd of mighty elk that thundered across the mountain pass in front of us. But instead it is October: three months since that week with Chloe; six weeks since we broke up. What can I say about the trip now? I had a lovely time. She and her family are wonderful people.

As time passes, actions and feelings piling up in its wake, our memories change in a way we cannot control. The past is seen only through the lens of the inevitable present. A delightful Christmas morning is tinged with sorrow after a sudden death, the valleys of a roller-coaster year are forgotten under the ether of nostalgia. What actually happened is not as important as how it is remembered, because only the second can ever change. Only the second makes a difference now.

The happiest moments, the perfect times, the days and nights you are surest of your fate and future: the joy they bring, though great, is never eternal, or immutable. And so the challenge of life is to risk the pain, to accept our transience and uncertainty, yet still choose to live — and love — with the abandon of the One who not only laid down His life for His friends, but commanded us to do the same.


4 Comments to “Four Weeks (Part Nine)”

  1. Connie Maxon on October 28th, 2008 9:32 am

    Bravo. Simply amazing. I love reading your stuff.

  2. David on October 28th, 2008 9:44 am

    I hesitated to comment because too much praise can sound false but I have never read anything better than this series. The writing is incredible.

  3. Connie Maxon on October 28th, 2008 2:37 pm

    And I hesitated as well, b/c I’m the Mommy. :)
    But sometimes you’ve got to bite the bullet and just say what you’re thinking.
    I personally think he takes after you, Little Bro.

  4. David on October 28th, 2008 2:41 pm

    He (twice) and Phil (once) completely anihilated me at SCRABBLE last night.

Leave a comment!

Comment spam protected by SpamBam