I met up with Andy at a beach bar for beers. We hadn’t seen one another since
covering the Crist gubernatorial campaign together back in 2006, just before I
left the newspaper, and he moved back to New Jersey. He was in town to close
on a house at the beach. Seems his stint in the Garden State had cured him of
his fear of hurricanes. And left him with enough east-coast cash to cash in on
the slump in Florida real estate prices. They’re planning, Andy and Elle, to take
occupancy before year’s end. Andy will teach.
Andy has a questing mind. We would sometimes stop for an illicit drink after an
assignment, toss a few impressions around, before returning to the newsroom.
The managing editor found out about it once and punished us both - humiliating
me, and infuriating Andy - by giving us a joint byline for Andy's story. Crafty
wench. Not that it stopped us, or was even meant to. It was more in the vein of
Paul's "meat sacrificed to idols" principle. Once something is on the table - and
named - propriety requires a response. Discretion, thereafter, prevailed.
We fell into the old rapport. Amidst the reminiscing, and speculation, we asked
one another what moment in our pasts we’d revisit, on the condition that
nothing could be changed. It didn’t take much thought, really, for me. My first
taste of chateaubriand with sauce Béarnaise was quite a revelation. There are a
couple of orgasms I wouldn't mind revisiting. The first ride on my new
bike. I was addressing a workshop once, told a joke, and the right people
laughed; it was surprisingly exhilarating. Andy cited, among other things, a
season of play with an amateur baseball league with whom he played infield.
Paris with Elle.
Would I want to revisit the darkness, the crimes and misdemeanors? The
traumas? The question’s premise that I could not change anything dampened
my enthusiasm, although there might be some insight to be gained that
memory’s narrative-making tendency tends to obscure.
But we ended up concluding, generally, that life's choicest moments aren't
spectacular in the usual sense, but in hindsight are suffused with a winsome
glow... hanging out with friends and lovers on a carefree day, the connection
and understanding shared, the humor, the inspired oddball moments that
nobody else would get. The peace that you think could go on forever, but
It’s a pleasant revelation, though, that it’s not really the big whoops that are
such big whoops after all. Maybe it’s the commonplace, the available, the local
terrain that have some of the highest peaks. Did I really quote Anne Murray?
Yes I did. “So high that I can almost see eternity...” Andy, who once claimed
that “Listening to Anne Murray makes me want to climb up to the roof of the
nearest Walmart with a rifle and start thinning out the crowd,” laughed. Then
mused. “Even a blind old goat can find an acorn once in a while.” I told Andy
that that was the first time I’d heard him use a cliché. “That’s the first time
Anne Murray made me cry. For the right reasons.” We went down to the beach
for a while, copped a little sand-time. I looked out at the ocean where a prim
little sailboat, far away and cloud white against the eternal blue, plied the horizon.