Today, I consider myself, the luckiest man, on the face of the earth…..

I apologize for the hiatus, I was home in Swampscott for the 4th of July and was having too much fun to even really use my normal social media websites.

I went home with Aqila, Attia, and our friend Jen.   Two other friends (Debbie and Mike) drove up separately and met us in Swampscott.

Friday night the Attia Taylor Band had a gig at the Dawson Street Pub.  We had a great show and it seems that we have really found our groove and energy on stage.   We carried that energy until about 3am which was just 3 hours shy of our wake up time to go to Boston.    However excitement got the better of me and I was ready to hit the road and wide awake.  Aqila and Attia slept most of the way while Berry and I enjoyed a fairly traffic free and easy ride.

As I got off the Lynnway and made my way around the Nahant Rotary my eyes grew happy as the expanse of the Atlantic Ocean unfolded before me for the last mile of the drive home.

I do love my hometown, a beautiful New England sea side town where bobbing sail boats and church steeples pepper the horizon.   I spent the afternoon visiting friends and around town and catching up.   There is something unbelievably soothing about talking to people who have known you since the first grade.  There is something even more soothing to be able to go years without talking to them and be able to pick up right where you left off.

As I made my way from the Hungry Whale where I was able to catch up with  Justin at his new store/restaurant to Austin and Dusty’s house to sit on his lawn and catch up on life I couldn’t help but thinking of a one of my favorite poems from Robert Frost….

When a friend calls to me from the road
And slows his horse to a meaning walk,
I don’t stand still and look around
On all the hills I haven’t hoed,
And shout from where I am, ‘What is it?’
No, not as there is a time talk.
I thrust my hoe in the mellow ground,
Blade-end up and five feet tall,
And plod: I go up to the stone wall
For a friendly visit.

Living in Philadelphia has sort of hardened me to the ability to just stop by a friends place and chat.    Here it is hurried walks to the pre-designated meeting place and converse there before we leave for our separate spots.  But there is something so satisfying about be able to stop and talk, have unexpected friends drop in and do nothing but discuss life on the front lawn of an old friend.   Sometimes a simple sit with a friend can recharge a drained soul.

We sat on Austin and Dusty’s front lawn in the soft grass and low chairs while we discussed the future child of Austin and Marissa and the impending nuptials of Dusty and Caroline.   Two of my best friends have found a great life.    Each with a wife (and future wife) way too good for them and future that will prove to be wonderful.

My friend Justin (who gave me the Weapon X toy I traveled to Alaska with) told me he had something for me.   We are two people bonded by our love of action hero fiction and find solace in the geeky conversation about our favorite story lines of Wolverine.    He gave me a whole stack of wolverine trading cards from 20 years ago along with a disc he burned of his favorite wolverine story lines.    The genuineness of his gift is not in a price, but in the fact he thought of me when he found something of his he thought I would appreciate.

Then there is my family.    My friends who visit all leave feeling a sense of family and belonging.  My mother and father are two amazing people who love opening their doors to show people a little slice of their life.   From fishing, to grilling, to hours sitting around a big table eating, talking, and laughing.      The highlight of the weekend for me was on Monday when we had my Nana, Aunt Connie, Uncle Paul, Lindsay, Rocco, Jack, Uncle Butch, and my Aunt Sharon over for fresh lobster (caught by my dad), fresh flounder (caught by me, Attia, dad, and Aqila) and steak (butched by someone and shipped to a supermarket near us).    There were sixteen of us in our small house and I couldn’t have been happier.    There was an overwhelming sense of joy in the overwhelming voices of the people there.

The highlight of the night was something so subtle.  Attia interviewed my Nana for her blog about women and music.   We watched the raw footage of my Nana talking about her love of dance guided her through life and those overwhelming voices that could drown out a dump truck earlier were dead quiet as we listened.   I did not know about most of her early life because she continually claims “I am really not that interesting” but as my cousin Lindsay so poignantly stated “The most interesting people never think they are”.

As she talked about why she danced her face would light up, it was incredibly moving to see her subtle excitement as she reminisced about her days performing on stage.   I saw a whole different woman on that video.   For one of the first times she wasn’t my Nana, she was Connie Gallo.   Someone I never knew because to me she was always just Nana, nurturer, Easter basket giver, and hair comber.     I am glad Attia had the idea to film that, and I am even more happy that Rocco and I figured out how to get the footage from the video camera to the TV with limited supplies so we could watch it.

I also spent a good amount of time on our boat with my dad over the two days.   Enough to get rid of my watch tan line.   Sometimes I forget how good I had it growing up on the ocean.   Sometimes I forget that I have full working knowledge of how to handle myself on a boat.   I spent my time pulling in lines and fenders, dropping anchors and pulling anchors, tying up the boat, baiting hooks, and taking fish off of hooks while so my  dad was able to relax a little after diving.   He summed it up perfectly as we sat alone after I tied the mooring to the boat waiting for the our pick up where he said in his very nonchalant but meaningful way “It is nice having you on the boat to do all this stuff without me giving any direction”.

I just sort of nodded, but I knew it was heartfelt.   I also know that what he was seeing was years of his training and direction from when I wasn’t so adept on a boat.   As a teacher I often know the fruits of my labor will most likely never seen by me.  I want to make sure my father knows his labor of raising me is bearing fruit now and I understand his reasoning for all of it.

There is no doubt that as I drove home this afternoon/evening to Philadelphia I was physically leaving my friends, family, and home behind.   But I carry each and every conversation and interaction with me every day of my life.   To see the excitement in my friends and family’s voices when we see each other elates me.   To have someone find an old object of theirs they valued think to themselves “Romano would love this”, comforts me.   I know that as I scurry around this rock and enjoy the distractions of possessions that abound my apartment it is not the time spent with these that I will cherish.  No, when I take my last breath I want to be able to think, “I will be missed on this rock, I will be missed”.

And as I thought about all this on the drive home I kept thinking to myself these exact words…..

3 Comments

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3 responses to “Today, I consider myself, the luckiest man, on the face of the earth…..

  1. Nana

    John It was so good having you and Tia and your friends from Philly at your parents house for the 4th. Ihad a good time with your friends. Nana

  2. Mom

    We are a fortunate family. Thank you fior being you and bringing all your great friends into our lives. They are part of our family now.
    I think Tia helped in bridging the comfort zone between The hesitant Nana and Attia. They worked well together
    True friends as you have found out are always there for you. The fact that you can pick up a conversation where you left off a year ago is proof.
    You have many here in your hometown as well as across the country. A nice feeling huh?

  3. Auntie Connie

    Like Dorothy said in the Wizard of OZ

    “There’s no place like home”

    It was so wonderful seeing all.

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