I can hear your laugh. I’m sure it is the first thing most people imagine when they think of you, that genuine, all-knowing chuckle. You’ve lived more life already than your years would suggest and you’ve made countless friends along the way. I don’t even recognize the names of these people who signed your cards, all sending you their love. Now here I am and I don’t even know where to start, what to say… I mean, you might still wake up and read this some day. At least that’s the scenario I choose to envision.
The person lying on this bed in front of me, dressed in only a thin gown, his labored breaths punctuated by blips and beeps from the monitors — I can’t connect that to the animated person with whom I’ve shared so many adventures. I think we’ve been yelled at by the cops at least a half-dozen times and now you won’t even squeeze my hand. I know we haven’t been as close the last few years, and I know there are no hard feelings. That’s just how it goes sometimes. But I can’t imagine losing the other half of all the memories we’ve made; I’m going to have to do the remembering for both of us now.
Your mom explains that they have detected swelling on your brain and are increasing your sedation. The news hits me like another punch in the gut. Is there even any use asking “why” to all this? No conclusive explanation or profound reasoning will make any of this easier. We’ll probably never know if the batteries were dead or if you tried to move or if the fire just spread too quickly. There seem to be so many variables that could have changed this outcome but I try to kick the “what if” thoughts from my mind; I know that path just leads to unresolved dead ends and more frustration. So all we have left to do is wait. Wait and hope. And pray, in whatever form we do. These thoughts are my prayer, my most sincere wish that you will come out to play shuffleboard again, or go night swimming. Or just laugh…
Your dad hugged me and thanked me for coming to visit. Of course, I say. And I mean it. I follow the signs in the ICU back toward the elevator. As the doors close, I think to myself: I should thank him. Thank him for bringing such a wonderful person into my life in the first place. Without such supportive parents, I’d never have any of those memories at all. I’ll tell him another time, I promise myself, because I know there will be many more visits to come.
Keep fighting, Leon
Leon wading in the moonlight at Hidden Beach in Minneapolis, July, 2009. Right before the police showed up…
The Minneapolis Aquatennial wrapped up last night with the best fireworks display I have ever seen. My friend, Anna, and her friend, Jenn, are visiting from California and they were awed as well. No one seemed to know exactly where the fireworks would be launched so it was a bit of a crapshoot setting down our blanket. They ended up being right behind a giant tree… oh well. I think the guy on a log in the river had the best view.
Stella’s Fish Cafe in Minneapolis offers an amazing special every Friday: a dozen oyseters on the half shell for $8.28 ($0.69/ea). In a 3-hour window, they serve around 500 of the tasty bivalves. There are other great seafood specials too, but this one has drawn me in a couple times now, enabling my typically unaffordable addiction. For anyone who isn’t familiar with this delicacy, I think Hemmingway described the experience best in A Moveable Feast:
“As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste that the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture, and as I drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of the wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy and to make plans.”
My friend Alison is preparing her ship.
And although her ’87 bus may look clunky and beat-up, she is convinced it has plenty of life left to take her, her stuff, and Brady, her dog, to wherever their next adventures lie. At least, it will when she is done. The first step was gutting the interior–floorboards, wall panels and all, and starting from scratch. The next step is a complete conversion: new wiring, new plumbing, new paint, new life. Then she can set sail.
I am hoping to turn this into an audio slideshow and will probably not post any photos again until it is done. But here is a preview, of sorts. I am loving the angles, lines, activity, and creativity surrounding this very unique project. Perhaps more common in the 70’s, converting buses into traveling homes is a lost art. I hope this serves as a tribute to all the buses (and their drivers) that came, and went, before.
I think a lot of people don’t realize what kind of light show happens just overhead each evening. Yes, it is cloudy sometimes and other times there are too many trees. But for the other 300 days of the year I highly recommend taking a glance up at the purples and oranges that appear against the clouds as the sun drop out of sight. (Even ducks perk up to watch a good sunset now and again.)
It’s been about 10 years since I last visited my friend Derek Maanum’s cabin and my return has been long overdue. Mille Lacs is the second-largest lake in Minnesota, located about two hours north of Minneapolis, and it is known for great fishing and boating. We had temps in the 90’s and relatively calm water so I think I was in the water for most of the long weekend. We did spend a considerable amount of time playing Angry Birds (which is NOT a water-compatible game) so perhaps that’s an exaggeration. In any case, I am sore and sunburnt as I write this–two sure-fire indicators of a weekend well spent.
Caption info is at the end of the post.
- Late-night cribbage game (Derek as “Binoculon”)
- A young fisherman doesn’t mind a wet seat
- Ben shows off his new haircut (which he would insist I mention that he only kept for 10 min)
- A “float” on the mini-parade that went by our cabin
- Fireworks from across the way
Bird prepares to land on my shoulder. (Yes, that is his name. And no, I’m not 100% sure he’s a “he.”)