Category Archives: Life

Sun-Drenched Road

The small blonde-haired boy is alone in the back seat. His brother won’t arrive for a few more years. He watches the sun-drenched California countryside out the window. His parents are in the front seat, talking quietly as they drive. They stop at a full-service station (look it up!) along the sparsely-traveled dusty toad.

The boy realizes he needs to pee, so he slips out of the back seat and heads around the side of the station to find the restroom. When he emerges, he looks around for his parents; but the car is gone. He stands there for a moment, stunned and unsure what to do next.

A short distance away is the attendant, lolling on a chair against the wall. He looks at the boy and drawls lazily, “They left ya.”

“Of course they didn’t!” he thinks to himself. “You’ll see.”

This is, of course, my own memory. Where most of my memories are especially wonderful, or are traumatic in some way, this one is simply, oddly, peaceful. As I look back on this particular moment in the story, I always imagine it like the scene from Raising Arizona (if you haven’t seen it, you simply must!) where the robbers suddenly realize they have left the child behind: squealing tires, anguish, yelling, pounding the ceiling.

His parents’ car came screeching into the parking lot, gravel skittering, doors flying open. They ran over, embraced him, and chided him for not telling them he was getting out of the car.

The small boy looks out the window at the sun-drenched California countryside going by, and he is content.

Fare well, old friend

I don’t remember the first day we met, Greg, but I know it was in fifth grade when I needed a friend. I think we became fast friends because we were both a bit weird and very nerdy.

On the playground in fifth grade, we asumed ourselves by coming up with innovative ways to curse. I remember us both laughing uproariously after a particularly long and creative string of invective. That didn’t last long though, and it’s a good thing our parents never found out.

My fondest memories are the comic strips we used to write together about The Adventures of Thomas Edison. They were inexplicably set in present day, and Edison was more of a James Bond with lots of vehicles and gadgets than an inventor. We also had very different styles, so the two sets of strips were really like two alternate universes. Mine were more concerned with architecture and realistic design (For one thing, I carefully crafted a large-screen conference room for remote meetings.) Yours were less concerned about detail and more with fantastic (and silly) stories and characters.

The details are fuzzy now, but I also remember The Nimmoscotian, a submarine that we designed. We created screens and control panels on paper and put them on the walls of your room, then acted out adventures as we piloted the submarine through ocean depths.

Somehow, along with Leon Stratikis (also of blessed memory), we started a really terrible “band” called Sky High, and recorded several albums of dismal quality. (Mom’s Tupperware standing in as a drum set is the most vivid recollection.) Somehow we actually got booked to play at a club — I don’t remember how, why, or who on earth thought that was a good idea.

When your parents divorced, I could see your pain and struggles, but I didn’t know how to help. Today, forty-plus years later, I am well acquainted with trauma and I can see how we were both shaped by them. Sometimes I wonder if you remained in Chicago in an attempt to start fresh.

Being so distant after college, we mostly lost touch. I do regret not doing more to keep up with your life, Greg. But I was starting a family and on my own journey of questioning, loss, trauma, depression, anxiety — and yes, healing, a renewed faith, and a measure of peace. I hope your journey was also healing.

I always thought we would be able to reconnect in our later years, when pressing responsibilities had lessened. I assumed we would reminisce together, laugh at our ridiculous childhood antics, and share deeply about our lives. I’m going to grieve for a while that that will never happen.

Fare well, my old friend. I love you.

Rob Scott

September 24, 2020