I wrote this on Saturday, January 30, 2021
I got up at 6:30. The sky was clear blue and not a cloud in sight after three days of rain. I got tired of reading politics on the Internet, so I looked up sea turtles. You can find sea turtles off shore in Los Angeles and further south, but the water is not warm enough for them in Santa Barbara. We saw sea turtles when we were in Hawaii a few years ago, but now I want to visit the Caribbean and look at marine life in that warm climate. Some island paradise, on a sailboat sailing as the sun goes down. Dazzling, sparkling clear water. Warm beaches. Puffy clouds. The Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Cuba....Yesterday I looked up websites on Parkinson's Disease because I have it, I was diagnosed two years ago. I joined a chat room, or thread where people described their condition, how many years they had Parkinsons, was it getting worse, their exercise routine and medication. I don't like to think about it too much, but movement is difficult for me, any movement, I can feel this stiffness. Not a pain, never a pain, but always a stiffness. You don't hear about it getting better. Success is defined as not getting worse, or getting worse but slowly. My best solution is to find absorbing activities because then I don't think about it.
Having said that, it's time to think about breakfast. We 're having avocado omelettes. I just love eggs. When I was a kid in high school, my mom made me scrambled eggs every morning. Two eggs scrambled, she added a little milk when she put them in the frying pan. I ate them with no glass of milk, no toast, just the two eggs and I ate them every school day morning, sitting at the big round table in the back of the kitchen, after I walked the dog.... Freshman and sophomore years I hitchhiked to school, three miles down Lake Street. It was only a one-block walk from our white stucco house on Forest Avenue, down 17th Street, past the tall horse chestnut tree, to Lake Street, carrying my homework books. I didn't carry a lunch bag because I always ate cafeteria food. So I got to Lake Street, let's say it's a little after 8 o'clock in early November. The ground is not quite frozen and the first snow might come any day. I stand with one foot on the curb and one foot on the street. It was a black tar street, the main street out to Edens Expressway, or going the other way across the Northwestern RR tracks a mile to the beach at Lake Michigan. I can see all these details in my mind, going back to 1960 when I was a freshman. The tall elm trees and oak trees, cars going by faster, on their way to work. It was usually the same men who stopped to pick me up. It took five minutes to catch a ride. They knew I was hitching to high school. I ran to the car and hopped in, always a man by himself. Some really boring guy with a coat and tie and a friendly smile, saying hello, going to school? I stared straight ahead. These guys were so boring. Was I supposed to grow up and be like them?
My brother Tom, older by four years, was away at college, Marquette University in Milwaukee. Milwaukee was 90 miles to the north in Wisconsin, even colder than Chicago where we lived, in the suburb of Wilmette. Why would anybody want to go to college in Milwaukee? My brother had no imagination, except he had cool records -- Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, Bo Diddley, stuff like that. He had a cute girlfriend. Her name was Betsy Wood and that's what she looked like. My brother was tall and Betsy was not. And Tom had friends. They went on a canoe and camping trip up north in the woods of Wisconsin. They stole a traffic sign and brought it home. It went in the basement and just sat there for years. Tom and I went water skiing in our boat on Lake Michigan. The boat was a 16-foot lapstrake Lyman with a forty-horse Johnson motor, which was a little under-powered, but good enough to tow a slalom skier. I was good at the slalom ski. Tom could hitch up the trailer and drive the boat down to Evanston where the launch ramp was. Picture an evening late in the summer, an August evening, hoping for a glassy-smooth flat calm -- ideal for water skiing. The lake was huge and the water was warm in August. You could run the boat for miles, clear up to Winnetka, and back to the ramp, when it was almost dark. We had some fun. But Tom was gone from home when I started high school, the same school where he just graduated. Too bad he wasn't there. He could have gotten me socially established. I had no confidence. I was the dork of all ages.
Back at the breakfast table where this story started. It was a big kitchen, but just Mom and me at the round oak table. She might have the ironing board out. No TV, no radio. Mom was the star of my universe. My oldest sister Mary was gone from home. Tom was at college. That still left two sisters at home and my Dad. The funny thing is that I can't remember them being there, I mean in the kitchen when Mom made me scrambled eggs.