I am not at the level of peace which I know is within reach. Oh, I’m not dangerously lost, don’t worry. I am missing something and I know what it is.
A bit over a year ago…18 months?… I came to Naples and made a commitment to make friends and have fun. I walked nearly every morning and went out dancing more nights than not. I saw the same folks every morning walking, and the same people every night, dancing.
I miss the moment, a perfect moment, saying hello to the same folks in the park. I have a bike, but walking gives me more of a chance to connect, making me feel part of something, part of the park; maybe part of the culture of the park.
One guy I used to see rode by on his bike every day with either a Patriots, Red Sox or Celtics jersey. We always had a word or a story for one another. Once, I was gone for a month. When I got back, he stopped his bike and asked where I had been. It means something, especially at this time, to be missed by a stranger.
There is a woman who I saw once in a while with a walker. She struggled. Her legs were wrapped, and you could tell it was painful. I greeted her often, never stopping. One day, she was further out on the bridge than I had seen her before. I stopped and told her about a guy who won the Boston Marathon in record time about 40-50 years ago. He said that his winning time was not so impressive. Rather he admired the people who spent hours on the course, determined to finish. He said he had never spent 4-5 hours running, and told the reporter he should have more interest in them. I have faced that, coming from a wheelchair, determined to finish. I told her that I admired the people out there who were not in the best of shape, but were determined. As we talked, she told me it was the first time she had made it to the middle of the bridge span and could look out over the water. I was glad I was there for her special moment.
Then the park closed.
A lot of faces in the park have changed. There are two black men who show up on the weekends now, with their sons. The four of them throw a football. I like to stop to watch fathers with sons. Sons with fathers, boys with men, make them whole. Watching makes me feel good about the nature of who we are. There are more women now, but that’s during the week, as they struggle to talk on the phone in what is clearly business while keeping one eye on kids. That is not so much fun to watch.
The faces have changed in the park. Many are covered. A few that are not, are hastily covered as soon as someone approaches from the opposite direction. I don’t wear a mask while walking outside. Once in a while, I get a harsh glance.
Until March, I took dancing lessons as part of my promise to myself to get out, make friends, meet people, and make Naples my home.
No more. That’s over.
I remember my first time in a place where a group of folks dance. I guess it was just over a year ago. There were lots of friendly and welcoming folks. One woman made sure I had a name tag. A gang of three asked me to sit with them. I think I was shy and danced once that night and left. Lessons helped. And what fun I had! I gained a bit of confidence and let my shyness fade. A year ago this September, one kind woman gathered a gang of folks at a table and bought a cake for the second anniversary of my new heart. What a surprise, and how it touched my new heart Not this year, I’m afraid.
One friend, a great dancer, told me to shut my eyes and feel the music. How I miss it!
Those who know me well, know of my life as an adventurer, wanderer, sailor, engineer, who loved three women. Two I count as best of friends, as I hope all will one day. I just wrote the story, Love and Happiness. Is that story over? Never. Should I publish it? Maybe.
Going to get lost in my guitar for an hour. My new online teacher from Mauritius, an island off the coast of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean, will expect me to practice. (The local teacher smoked and we were jammed in a closet-like space.) I like this young guy in Mauritius, who is engaged to be married next year. He invited me to the wedding, laughing. I didn’t laugh. I have done crazier things than go to Madagascar on a whim.
Life is not as full as it was. It will be, once again.
August 16, 2020