This may go against the norm of most of our mentalities. Fact is most of us would give anything to turn back time and be a cute little kid again with all the knowledge we have gained from the mistakes we have made thus far. This refers back to my ‘Big City’ blog. I spoke of wisdom with age, but I am looking forward to the grey hair and the crows feet around the eyes. I want to sneak away from the kids for a beer and a quick read and come back smelling faintly like cigarettes. I want my wife to understand that its just me getting away for an hour each week…yes each week, not day.
Many of us have the freedom to get out when we want, where we want, for what we want. Some of us have significant others, maybe even marriage and children, but at our age can still manage to ‘Get Away.’
Some of you poke fun at the fact that I play racquetball and squash with a middle-aged crowd of professionals. I have heard some of you call me an old man for associating with these older men. I know none of you are serious and love that I play racquet sports with old men. I cannot find my mot juste to explain this but will try and share with you the feeling that comes about me after these experiences. It is not just racquetball and squash, but at the bar or coffee shop, gas station, or even on a walk in the city. There is so much to learn from those that are older than us.
My thoughts may addle some of you, but this is for those that understand, and for those that do not, involve yourself with an older crowd. Now do not make this your parents or their friends, aunts and uncles or people you converse with around the water cooler. Think.
I first had this conversation with a new friend of mine whom I play racquetball with. His name is Keys Miller. He is 37-years old, has four kids, a wife, a mortgage, and a great sense of humor and outlook on life. It was days before that I first came to this realization.
Now let me preface that the guys that gave me this sense of realization to not live in a reality that most of us are accustomed to. These guys are professional musicians. But these three guys have families, kids, mortgages, and many stories. These are stories that I thought you might stop telling amongst your friends when you reach a certain age, but the truth is, you can surround yourself with people that will allow you to continue to be the person you have shaped yourself to be throughout your life. It seems that some people get married, have kids, and disappear. They put themselves away forever and seem to always be looking for an out before it has been too long and they are stuck in an existence that they have created and allowed themselves to succumb to.
It was an overcast Tuesday morning in early fall and the leaves had yet to change color. The overcast skies would clear and the sun would break through in the early afternoon and Portland would be graced with another beautiful autumn afternoon. Driving downtown I was fortunate enough to find a parking spot within a block of my destination. For some reason I had the correct amount of change for the meter, but I wasnt even worried about it. The weight in my front left pocket felt abnormally heavy, and I felt an immediate sense of relief knowing I would not have to scourer the city streets to break change.
I was meeting my aunt’s neighbor and his band mates at Portland’s Bijou Cafe. Now you may ask, “what the fuck are you doing meeting your aunt’s neighbor?”
(When I lived in Los Angeles I spent a lot of time at my Aunt Joan’s house. She is my dad’s little sister and one of my best friends. She has three beautiful kids, an amazing husband, a beautiful Chesapeake Bay retriever, and my favorite adirondack chairs ( This is another blog in itself but I have had some life changing moments at her house, both good and bad). We would kick back on the porch and kvetch about our day. She would read her rags, marlboro light in hand, and we would entertain the kids, the dog, and my dear Uncle Dale. Her neighbor, Mark Goldenberg, is a professional studio musician who would wander out of his house to walk the dog or enjoy the warm evenings with his newborn daughter in arms. We would occasionally chat but it was simple over-the-fence talk about music or the mysterious Armenian neighbors. This went on for a couple of years and I never thought much of it. A couple months ago my aunt had called to tell me that mark was on tour again with Jackson Browne so I ventured via email then phone and got in contact with Mark. He loved Portland and wanted to catch up).
We started just down the street at Old Town Music. I was admiring old acoustics, jazzmasters, and tube amps. They were sharing stories of their private collections of Fender Relics, older amps, and even more valuable items that could not be found in one of Portland’s greatest music shop. These guys had toured the world, purchased many toys, and built a foundation of stories that keep them sane.
At lunch, I felt comfortable surrounded by these guys. Here I am, a struggling college student with an old volvo and a rental, enjoying food and laughs with a drummer, bass player, and guitar player who have played some of the world’s most beautiful venues and know they have the best job in the world. Why was this so odd to me? They were normal guys. They talk about music, movies, politics, women. This was their getaway from family, kids, and responsibility. Some complaints of a long tour and overnight bus rides surfaced, but lacked sincerity since they knew they really had it made.
Maybe my life will take me in the same direction, but it doesnt matter. These guys are still having fun and they are twice my age (Ask me to tell you about their friend Tiggy…great story). I left lunch that day all smiles understanding that I cannot wait to get older. I hadnt really taken a step back to appreciate my older friends. I have since learned so much from these guys.
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