Saturday, September 21, 2013

First Entry of a Long Journey

Two weeks ago I arrived in Fort Meyers, Florida, to visit and take care of my ailing friend Stephen. Today I am leaving and am about to drive to Orlando to visit my nephew and his family. In this almost finished snippet of time, I have chosen to not allow my emotions to emerge. I have been neither lighthearted nor deeply cynical. Aside from being annoyed by a predictable negative experience at a car dealership and once, when Stephen in his condescending, humiliatingly judgmental tone hectored me incessantly on the correct way to toast a bagel, I have rarely been moved enough to even respond passive aggressively or laugh heartily at anything. I have dealt more or less methodically and efficiently with every task at hand from taking care of my own health to making Stephen comfortable.

It seems that I have been coping in a calm, controlled manner with the traffic, the disorientation of being out of my element, the heat and humidity, Stephen's complicated personality, dealing with his severe medical issues, and my own physical discomforts. It is as if my own survival depended on diligent detachment. I like to believe that this behavior has become a useful seminal characteristic of my personality, a socially acceptable persona which depicts mature adult behavior. Over the years I have learned to cultivate this image to serve as an attractive veneer to cover the core of the incredibly frightened child I have always been.

Therefore I have little passion today to describe deeply or critically the world about me. I am writing from a Starbucks from one more generic shopping complex of anywhere, except its probably Florida, since the gardeners are gathering fallen palm fronds from the surfaces of boring ground cover. I find it particularly difficult to have a welling up of emotion while sitting by the window watching the traffic whizz by. Some drivers are from the wealthy waterfront sections of the town and many others are the folks I saw at Walmart the other day; namely, a bubbling stew of ethnicity whose lives swim in a sea of issues associated with poverty and ignorance. Saying more about my observations of Southern Florida means drawing conclusions befitting a psycologist, sociologist, historian, or monk. Today I lack the dedication, intelligence, conviction, energy, or purpose to gamble with words in an attempt to share thoughts.

I feel like average cat-eyed marbles stacked in a fragile glass jar. To the untrained eye the content appears solid, valuable and colorful. The fact is that I have been sitting on the shelf these past weeks self-contained, firm and cool in demeanor and purpose. I have been living, but not really in the large game. Perhaps this next episode with Mark and family will reorient me and help me get back into the the pot.


  1. I feel where you're coming from. Take care.

  2. I'm going to have to sleep on this one. I know what I want to say, but I'm having a hard time putting it into words.

  3. Great talking with you today and hope you had a good time as you went on your way and that you saw the best of our state on display and tomorrow will be Tuesday.

    Don't mind me I lost my cat-eyed marbles.

    I'm deep into the's fantastic. I'm already putting together a blog post on the book and his thesis. Thank you, my friend!

  4. Ever since you got back from your camping trip through the Northwest this summer, I've been meaning to ask you whether you kept the beard as a souvenir of the trip. Somehow I never got around to it, though. That top picture tells me (shows me, actually) what I wanted to know. That brings me to the burning question you must be wondering about at this point: Which look do I prefer? Obviously I'm used to seeing you and thinking of you as clean-shaven, because that's how you've been most of your life, but as of right now I have no preference. After all, it's your face and you can do what you want with it!

    I'm sorry Stephen gave you such a hard time about ridiculous things like the correct way to toast a bagel. I can remember my mother acting that way when she was in her last illness. I lived with my family in the apartment building next door to her building, so I would often come over to do the chores she couldn't do for herself, which eventually was most of them. She would give me the most ridiculously detailed step-by-step instructions for the simplest things, as if I were a baby or an idiot or both. I found myself biting my tongue quite often, and it was very hard to keep from lashing out. I finally realized she was acting that way because she wanted me to be her arms and legs; to make the bed or whatever exactly the way she would do it if she could.

    It sounds as though a very similar thing was happening with Stephen. I'm glad you were able to keep your cool, even though it was obviously very difficult for you.

  5. I just want to let you know that I scrolled through your blog until I found this post, and read it again tonight.