Entries Tagged as 'Friends'

The power of love

Debbie came all the way from south Florida to visit me this weekend. What strength and courage that must have taken. She is as brave as she is beautiful and I am a lucky man to know her and to be in her heart.

Thirty three years had passed since we last saw each other in person. Thirty three years since we had even spoken until January of this year, 2011. We had both taken radically different paths through life’s journey that led us to the same spiritual and emotional place all these years later. It is such a crazy story that it is almost unbelievable.

We re-connected through Facebook and then immediately began texting and instant messaging online. It wasn’t long until we fired up the web cams and since then we’ve been face to face enjoying each other’s company for hours on end every single night, but a thousand miles away from each other. There was much to teach and learn about each other’s past and life’s experiences. There still is much for us to learn.

We were in love with each other when we were sixteen years old, but what do sixteen year olds really know about love? At 49 years old now, I have a new deep respect for the answer to that question.

I thought I had been in love before. I even got married in my early twenties. That didn’t work out. I had several long term relationships throughout my life. I thought they were love too. Each and every time I had my heart handed back to me, quartered and diced, and a few ounces shy of when I gave it away. I built walls after a while. I didn’t let anyone in. For the last decade I’ve lived alone, keeping any relationships at arms length. I had some soul searching to do and I did it. I know who I am now. Wisdom has taught me many lessons and I know what is important and what is not. I know what is shallow and what is deep. I’ve spent a lot of time here alone. I learned to like being alone and I never felt lonely. And then Debbie came back to me after all these years and everything changed in a flash.

Debbie arrived Friday morning and it was although time had stood still for all those years. The chemistry is amazing. The romance is strong. The passion is deep. The love that we felt for each other way back then never died and it wasn’t just laying dormant somewhere. It was growing, unseen and undetected. It seems to have grown exponentially over the years as if someone or some thing much greater than ourselves was nurturing and feeding it as if it were some kind of prized botanical treasure.

I have just spent three of the best days of my life with her. Every embrace felt like we were sculpted by the world’s greatest artist to fit perfectly with each other. We are like two pieces of a valuable rare puzzle that can’t and shouldn’t fit with anything or anyone anywhere else in the universe except for with each other. There is not a doubt in my mind that she was meant for me and that I was meant for her.

I have never felt this depth of love, this level of trust or this magnitude of caring before. I just spent three days of total, undiminished, unabridged happiness with her and never in my life have I felt so complete. The piece of me that was missing all of these years is no longer missing. She makes me feel whole.

Our visit is over. I drove her out to drop her off at her mother’s house in Pittsburgh today where she’ll spend the rest of her vacation. Every mile I drove home I felt just a little less complete and a lot more empty. I’ve lived alone for a very long time but I’ve never felt as alone as I do at this very moment. But while my house is empty and my soul is lonely, my heart is full of love for her and hers is full with me. I’ll drive out to see her next week before she goes back to Florida and we’ll embrace each other again with the strength and passion that it will take until we see each other again this summer.

We are one.

Happy Valentine’s Day….from afar

I remember the first time I fell in love. I was about sixteen years old and so was she. High school and all the pressures of high school and growing from a child to an adult. What an awesome time in life. What a trying time in life. She was beautiful. She was sweet and funny, innocent and true. When I’d think of her my heart skipped a beat. I was under the spell. Bitten by the bug. She was all I could think about and all that mattered. We were sixteen. I can’t even remember what else was important back then. It wasn’t survival. Our parents cared for us back then. It was a simple life. We had no real responsibilities. There was no career to maintain, no mortgage to meet, no standard to set, and no family to raise. It was high school. My memory has faded over the years but I still remember how my heart warmed every time I thought about her and every time I knew that I’d get to see her. How we passed our little love notes back and forth and how we’d re-route ourselves so we could see each other between classes. I’ll remember that for the rest of my life.

She was on the track team. I was just a farm boy from the sticks. To this day I’m not sure how our lives crossed, who introduced us or how we originally came to know each other. It’s all a big blur and so much has happened since then. She wanted to settle down I think, like most people and raise a family after graduation. I just wanted to get out of school and run wild, and that’s what we did.

I moved back to Harrisburg and lived pretty much footloose and free and she got married and raised two sons in south Florida. A lot has happened to us both over the years. We’ve both lived through some pretty tough lessons. We’re both better people for learning them.

Here it is 33 years later and the strangest thing happened about a month ago. Through the power of the internet and Facebook we’ve re-connected. She’s still in Florida and I’m still in central Pennsylvania. We’re both single now. We chat every night on the net and call on the phone on the weekends, and I’ve realized something very surprising.
My heart still fills with warmth when I think about her. I look forward to her company every night. The laws of attraction and the forces of nature are apparently much more powerful that I’d ever imagined. She is still as beautiful, sweet, funny, innocent and true as she was when we met way back then. She still feels something for me too. I know she does. She’s coming to PA in March to visit family and we’ve carved out a few days to re-meet in person. I’m really looking forward to it. I can’t wait. I want to see her now. Today! I want to hug her so much right now on Valentine’s day but I can’t. We’re in positions where we can’t just up and travel 1000 miles at the drop of a hat. So I had to send someone in my place to do today’s hugging. I figured a really big bear would do the trick, and by the smile on her face, I think she liked it.

Neither one of us knows why this happened. Is this the master plan now that we’ve each done what we wanted to do earlier in our lives and now we’re supposed to be together again? Is this our destiny or is this some kind of other test, or hurtful life lesson like we’ve both endured so many times before? I’m not sure why this is happening but I am very glad that it is.

Happy Valentine’s Day Debbie. I wish I were the bear.

A good friend gone

It is with great sadness and a heavy heart that I write this tonight. The world has lost a good man and I have lost a good friend. I met him in the middle of the Susquehanna River in the summer of 2006. We were all up partying at a place in between some islands that we call the swimming hole and Dale came cruising up in a flat bottom drinking cold Coronas. We were friends instantly. Dale was an intelligent guy with a permanent smile. He was definitely a positive. He looked at the good in things and tolerated, and overlooked the bad. He fit right in.

He was looking for a new place for summer camping so we offered up our campground information and introduced him to our campground owner. We saw Dale a few more times that summer and then the next year he had a spot in our campground and he and his wife Lynn became part of our family.

Dale was one of those people that would do anything in the world to help you out. A “give you the shirt off his back” kind of guy. He was an honest man that liked good music, UFC fighting, Harley riding, boating, camping and partying with all of us. Most of all, he treasured his friendships. We also treasured our friendship with Dale.

We will not forget Dale. He’ll live on through all of us, in our hearts and in our memories. We will raise our glasses and toast to him often and we will tell our stories on the river of the great times that we shared with him. My heart goes out to his loving wife Lynn and their family.

To Dale, we will reunite one day my friend. Godspeed and goodbye for now.

I had a dream

mvc-001fI had a dream last night. It was only about 15 seconds. It was like a photograph, but with feelings. It was of a friend of mine, a past girlfriend.

It was early morning. We were both young. We were rich and in love. We were in a mansion overlooking the Caribbean. There were marble floors and stone arch passways opening up to a caramelized sky of red, orange and purple with a bright yellow sun rising up over the sea. We were having freshly squeezed orange juice with mangoes and champagne. She was wearing baby blue silk pajamas with brightly colored peacocks embroidered all over. She wasn’t wearing any make-up. She doesn’t need any. I have never seen her so beautiful. She was vibrant, happy and full of life and so was I.

And that was it. The dream was over.

It’s strange how life works…..

holdinghandsIt’s strange how life works. We are born wide eyed and curious, and soak in our surroundings in our young formative years. It begins the base of our foundation. We are thrust into schools where we ultimately gravitate to groups of people who are similar to us in intelligence and interest. We eventually leave those schools as young men and women and we are tossed out of the nest to either find jobs or go to college depending upon our previous choices in school or our social economic classes.

Some of us go to work in factories or service businesses. Some of us fix automobiles or build houses. Some of us will serve our country. When we do, we find that we fit in socially with others in the same line of business and we see familiar faces in our recreation because somehow we all enjoy the same types of recreation. You can find these people in any hard working town like Pittsburgh, Cleveland or Steelton. You’ll find them in local bars raising hell and rooting for their favorite football team and you’ll find them at the watering holes where a line of Harleys are displayed majestically outside the front door.

Some of us go on to be doctors and some of us go on to be entrepreneurs. Some go on to be politicians or diplomats. Some go on to be scientists, lawyers, law makers and accountants. You’ll find these folks at country clubs all across America. You’ll find them vacationing in Hawaii and you’ll find them dining in New York and LA’s finest posh restaurants. You’ll find them in Colorado’s ski resorts and on any tropical beach in the Caribbean.

I’ve never seen a long haired tattooed scruff rolling out of Harvard’s parking lot. I’ve never even heard of such a thing.

Anyway, we live our lives. We form relationships and we fall in love. We get married. We raise families. We fall out of love and we get divorced. We move to different towns for better work and make new friends and find new lovers. Nothing stays the same. And then all of the sudden you turn around and in what seemed to have been just the blink of an eye you’ve lost a decade……or two. The spouse you wake up next to isn’t the same spouse you started with. Your children are no longer kids. They are adults with kids of their own and none of your friends are the same. They are new friends that you’ve made along with the countless other life changes that you’ve made. You wonder where it all went and how…and why.

laurie&me2Because of modern technology and social networking sites like facebook, we are provided the luxury and privilege of keeping in touch with friends and family, not only over miles but over time as well. I was recently provided with such a treat. Nine or ten years ago for me it was all about what I perceived as “the good time”. Bar hopping on the Harley every night and spending my life in pretty much an alcoholic haze and just living in the moment. Laurie was pretty much doing the same and our lives crossed briefly back then, and then we grew apart for whatever reason or another. And then she was gone and I was gone.

We recently found each other on facebook. We exchanged a few emails and promised to get together to reminisce the old times and to catch up on the new. The years have taught us both some harsh, valuable lessons and with ten years of wisdom and maturity on our side, we found that we have much more in common now than we did back then. I think we actually take the time now to step back and realize that we enjoy each other’s company rather than to just expect it to be so. We had so much fun on the first date that we had a second, and we had so much fun on the second date that we promise to have a third. I’m lucky to have the opportunity to spend time with such a lovely girl who has blossomed into such a beautiful person. I wonder who to thank for this. Do I thank God? Do I thank technology? Do I thank Mark Zuckerberg for founding facebook?

How about I just thank them all.

One of the best rides of my life

mybike4I spent the better part of my adult life riding Harleys and hanging out with a bunch of misfits. I honestly wouldn’t have it any other way. I have a thousand stories, all of them are true. Most are beyond a normal person’s comprehension or ability to even imagine people doing the shit we did, but sometimes it’s the simple things and the little things in life that make it all worth while, and that’s what this post is about. One of the simple things. One night.

It involves Dave “Crusty” Conrad. I wrote about him in an earlier post about riding in New Hampshire during bike week. Dave and I had another memorable ride once. It’s going to be hard to describe because where we went and what we did means nothing. Where we left from, where we went to, and what we did while we were there means nothing.

I have hand full of friends that I trust on the road. You get that way when you spend your life on a bike. You ride with hundreds of people, but only a few that you really, really trust….on the road. You ride thousands of miles and with every single mile you get to know someone. You get to know how they react to things. Like deer jumping out, an oncoming driver, a crosswind, a plastic bag blowing across the street.

Real bikers ride side by side, elbow to elbow, handlebar to handlebar and they ride fast cause it ain’t no fun if you ain’t leanin. You get to know your true friends well on the road if you spend enough time with them and push the limits with them. Trust me. I’m telling you the truth.

Dave and I were just bar hopping one night. I can’t tell you the year, the month or the day. It didn’t matter back then. We were just out on another night like so many other nights. But this night, we went for a good long run. We went from Dauphin up to Halifax, then to E-ville, bar hopping all along the way. All mountain roads. Winding twisting mountain roads. It was cool on the way there but nothing special. Just another night of bar hopping on the Harleys. The ride home was amazing.

Everything was just right when we left the Washington Hotel. The temperature was probably about 75 degrees, no wind and the moon was full and bright. We were both in a good mood and we had a great night of partying with old friends and new. The mood was cool. We were happy. We were both young and free and living a dream. We fired up the hogs, an impressive sound, even though we heard it every day and night of our lives, and pulled out. There’s a stop light right there so we saddled up side by side and waited for the green. It wasn’t a race mind you. We were just sizing up and positioning for the ride home. The next twenty miles would be some of the best miles I ever rode.

Like I said earler. Everything was right. There was new blacktop for twenty miles, and it was beautiful summer night air and there was a full moon. There was a strong long-time friendship between us and there was a few hours of just having a damn fine time with the evening. Most of all there was trust. I knew how Crusty rode and he knew how I rode. I liked the yellow and he liked the white. (For those of you who don’t understand that, it refers to the color of the lines on the road and the side of the lane that you prefer to ride when riding a motorcycle….side by side).

Crusty and I hit the throttle and off we went, me on the left and him on the right. We both had the right amount of beer in us. Everything was just right. We rode from E-town to halifax, about 20 miles of beautiful winding freshly blacktopped mountain road at an average of about 20 to 30 mph over the speed limit, handlebar to handlebar, side by side. There were so many times that night that our bikes threw sparks from steel hitting road that I couldn’t even keep count. Kickstands, frames, exaust pipes and rubber blasting down and testing….gouging the highway. It was beautiful. It was as if our bikes were one. One bike, two riders. It was that tight. But there were two bikes and two riders that night. It was a ballet. A symphony. It was a beautiful thing. I’ll remember it as long as I live. It was one truly one of the highlights of my life. I trusted Crusty with my life. He trusted me with his. We rode way too fast for way too long and everything went right. Handlebar to handlebar, elbow to elbow, side by side. It was a beautiful night.

Captain Mike Smith’s 50th Birthday

Mike and Ann are good friends of mine that I met up at camp. Mike is a retired air force man. I don’t think he was a captain in the military. He got the “Captain” rank from boating. We affectionately call everyone who owns and operates their own boat “Captain”, and that’s just the way it is.

Anyway, Mike turned 50 yesterday and had a party. He lives about 45 minutes away from me, so the drive was painless. I don’t get to see my campground friends much in the fall and winter so this was a real treat. A bunch of the guys and gals were there that I hadn’t seen since the end of the season.

Mike has a big beautiful house in the country that he built himself. He’s a perfectionist and his house shows it. It was meticulously built and is meticulously maintained. Ann did a wonderful job of decorating it in an old country style and as beautiful as the house is, we spent most of the night hanging out around the campfire that Mike built in the front yard. I’m not sure why it worked out that way. There was plenty of room inside. The kitchen was filled with food and there was a nice fire crackling in the fireplace. It just seems more natural for us to be outside standing around an open fire with a beer in our hand.

Harry bought mike the classic 50th birthday gift. It was a walker with cigar and beer holders, and other accessories like a horn, a basket and a license plate on the front that said LUV2DRINK. It was great.

It was a great night. I’m thankful to have such good friends.

Happy birthday Mike.