Is this what it is like to be insane? Thoughts, ideas, memories come racing into my mind, lasting just moments until replaced, pushed out by another and then another and another. Mental images, sounds, even smells and tastes. And touch, of course. Memories swirl about. Associations, such as they are, are loose if existing at all. How to get it all in order, under control? Is this what crazy is? Loony? Wacked out? I want to consider a memory. To enjoy it, ponder it, turn it about in my mind, smile at a happiness, laugh at an amusement, lament a poor decision or a word said or perhaps unsaid. But a new memory arrives before I can complete my task with the old.
List the memories in chronological order. Will that work? Start at the beginning and just go. But there is such a long time to cover. Move from one to another but then that passes over some memory which then rises later. Can’t go back and stick it into the list because I will lose my place and then another memory pops up and where does that go?
No, I am not crazy. I am simply married to my sweetheart for fifty years.
# # #
Sanity becomes certain. The anniversary celebrated, a joyful gathering, everyone happy. There is time now to recall, review, remember, recount. The first date. Wedding. Trips. Friends. Places lived. Adventures. The kids, naturally.
What good fortune we have had. Made it through half a century. Decent health, happy family. So many amazing experiences, so many precious memories, so many wonderful times.
# # #
We married while still children. No, that’s not fair. We were responsible, lovers in our early twenties, a year and two away from getting MD after our names. We supported ourselves with a combination of part time work, selling our blood or our platelets, savings, modest loans, and a very frugal lifestyle. But we were children when it came to marriage; as wide-eyed with anticipation and appreciation as a kid passing through the entrance into Disneyland. Live the fantasy as imagined, at least until reality takes over.
Life is a hand fan, folded accordion-like. From then to now. So quickly it seems to have happened, the fan tightly closed. What is fifty years; a momentary flash, a brief burst of energy, an exploding star? I need perspective.
Open the fan. Open it backward. The fifty years before we married. The Great War having ended, the roaring twenties begin. Prohibition. Lindbergh, Capone, the Babe.
The thirties. Depression. Dust Bowl. Okies. FDR. Was there no end to the misery?
World War II. The “greatest generation” creates its own legend. Industrialized efficient mass murder and the Reich. Nuclear bombs.
Catch your breath in the fifties. I Like Ike. TV dinners. Willie, Mickey, and the Duke.
The sixties. Almost there now. Nam and civil rights. Assassinations. Someone does a moon walk. I go out – it’s one time only, I think – with a sweet young lady with the most beautiful blue eyes.
Yup. Open the fan and see how long fifty years can be. A long time. At least backward.
How about forward? I go out – it’s one time only, I think – with a sweet young lady with the most beautiful blue eyes. A few years later we stand under a tent in her back yard and promise “as long as we both shall live.”
And suddenly, before we can even realize it, we have painted the fan’s leaves the colors of a joyful melody. So many shades. The fan filled.
That was quick.
Originally in print in Avalon Literary Review