photo: John, Jim, Ray and Dave with the Bull near The New York Stock Exchange
Faithful reader and correspondent Shirley Baumgardner of central Pennsylvania just reminded me that it has been more than a month since I last updated this blog. I wish I could tell you I was slacking off, sipping champagne in my bathrobe and slippers day after day. But actually I’ve been busy with upcoming writing projects, pushing to meet deadlines, some of them self-imposed. Recently, however, I did get to have a fun three-day weekend getaway in New York City with three of my old high school classmates. Of a class of 650 students at West Bloomfield High in suburban Detroit, these are the three I have managed to stay in touch with over the years, and our friendships have grown stonger as we’ve bumped along on parallel tracks through life’s various chapters.
I’ve counted Ray Smith among my very best friends since the summer of 1968 when he moved into the house behind mine in our subdivision. Dave Kreager and Jim Cavalier similarly grew up together a few neighborhoods away from mine and came on my radar only after I reached high school. But the four of us took instantly and our friendship has stuck. It was Jim’s idea for all four of us to rendezvous in New York for a celebration of sorts. Not that turning 50 is cause for much anything other than a Prozac prescription. But we were determined to properly mark a half century gone by. Of course, I couldn’t resist noting that when we turned 40 we truly had cause for celebration: We had all accomplished much of what we wanted in life and still weren’t even at the halfway point yet, assuming we could make it to 80. But at 50 that sunny equation no longer held up. How many live to 100? Yep, I felt obliged to remind my friends that we’re past the halfway point now and it’s all downhill from here. Leave it to me to accentuate the positive. Yes, we drank heavily. No, not really. Not too heavily anyway. We mostly laughed at the good times gone by and the promise of more adventure to come in the years ahead. We all agreed to tear up those AARP membership invitations. We’re not quite ready for that.
We had a blast, walking all over the city and having amazing luck stumbling blind onto wonderful restaurants and cafes without securing a single reservation. We visited the site of the World Trade Center, and St. Paul’s Church next door, which for months served as a refuge for the rescue workers. We posed for pictures in front of the bull on Wall Street and viewed the Statue of Liberty from Battery Park. We visited The Dakota apartment building where John Lennon was killed in 1980, and sat for a while in the Strawberry Fields memorial garden across the street in Central Park. We hit a comedy club in the Village and art galleries in Soho. We listened to jazz musicians in the subway and shopped for junky trinkets in Chinatown. We ate paninis in Little Italy and dodged cloudbursts in Washington Square. And then it was time to pack up and go our four separate ways…to Chicago, Minneapolis, western Michigan and eastern Pennsylvania.
It was fun guy time and a welcome reprieve for all of us from busy lives layered with obligations and responsibility. Already, the four amigos are talking about making it an annual retreat. Next year? I’m lobbying for New Orleans.
Over and out for now.