Tuesday, October 27, 2009

warm up this slice

Thirty-five years ago we worked on projects of mutual interest in Greece.

The Frenchman and the American. Doing the work of the Free World.

At least, that is what we told ourselves,.

The last time I saw him was in August 1974 in Athens at a seaside restaurant. I would leave Greece in just a few days, and America would have a new president.

The world moved on at its own pace.

It turns out, though, that it was not the last time I saw him. I ran into him again in 2007. In Mexico. At a seaside restaurant.

By the Gallic pallor on his face when he saw me, he thought I had come to settle a four-decade old grudge over French perfidy.

Instead of settling imagined scores, we caught up on our lives. To the extent that the gracious editor of selective story-telling allowed.

He told me that I needed to meet his greatest accomplishment: his son.

It took me almost two years, but I finally met him last week for dinner.

I was not surprised to find him to be a younger version of his father. Handsome. Witty. A great conversationalist. At 24, he had the social graces of a far-older man.

We had stopped by my place and were chatting about fears. I mentioned that my greatest fear is having my head underwater. He jumped up, and told me to follow him.

We went down to the beach. Even though it was well past midnight, he had me diving under the smashing waves that add a perpetual percussion in the house.

I was pummeled more often than I was successful. But I finally had a semblance of how to do it. And I thanked him.

But he is a perfect example of what can happen to bright young people in Mexico. He went to school to become an archaeologist. And not a Meso-American archaeologist. As a result, he cannot find a job in the area of his professional passion.

Instead, he works as a waiter at a resort about an hour south of my house. At least, he puts his fluency in three languages to use. But a passion it is not. At best, he is playing the role of a waiter in a never-ending production.

Fortunately, he has a fallback position. He wants to be an actor. I do have a few contacts in Mexico that I thought might be able to help. And I was happy to make calls. Whether it makes any difference, we shall see.

I made the calls as a favor to his father. But, I think I would have done the same thing if I had never met his father.

There is something refreshing about people who are willing to live their dreams and to escape the manacles of their own past.

And that is my second piece of Meat Loaf. The same album that contains the song from yesterday's post also contains"Objects in the Rear View Mirror may Appear Closer than They Are" -- one of my favorite Steinman songs.
The skies were pure and the fields were green
And the sun was brighter than its ever been
When I grew up with my best friend Kenny
We were close as any brothers than you ever knew
It was always summer and the future called
We were ready for adventures and we wanted them all
And there was so much left to dream and so much time to make it real

I guess that is what these two essays have been about. Trying to find the sense of maintaining the feeling that it is always summer and our futures are still calling to us.

So, Steve. Where does that leave you? You came to Mexico to experience a new life -- not to create Salem in a tropical setting.

And is a fair criticism.

I guess the answer is that I need to get with the program -- or I need to start looking elsewhere for my adventure.

I told myself last week that I am going to stop saying "no." When people offer new adventures, I am going to try them. Like my friend's son, I am going to take advantage of the situations when they happen.

I have dived under a crashing wave at midnight. And I survived.

What could touch me now?


Anonymous said...

Come visit in Quintana Roo and we will go snorkeling...your face is the water but not your whole head and you will see outstanding fishes and other gorgeous Caribbean critters. Kathe

Anonymous said...

Although I have no fear of the water...I don't think I would go wave diving at midnite. I tip my hat to you sir..one adventure at a time.

Steve Cotton said...

Kathe -- Snorkeling is my method of dealing with this fear. I do it as often as I can. I have my own mask and fins that I carry in the back of the truck whenever the possibility arises. But I much prefer snorkeling on your side of the country.

Francisco -- If it had not been spontaneous, I doubt I would have done it. An adventure it was in so many ways.

el jubilado said...

Sky diving is next - just for the view. Take your camera

Steve Cotton said...

El Jubilado -- Sky diving is old hat. I have done that twice. I am willing to bet, though, that sky diving here would be even more interesting.

Constantino (Tancho) said...

See you for the Bulls next year!

Steve Cotton said...

Constantino -- Now. That is a good idea. And I assume you are not referring to the Chicago variety.

Islagringo said...

I've been sitting here for 5 minutes now. Staring at my screen but seeing nothing. This post was like a kick in the ass wake up call. Thank you.

Steve Cotton said...

Islagringo -- I thought you might like it. We have talked about some of these themes over the past year.

Irene said...

It's not the destination, it's the journey. Godspeed!

Steve Cotton said...

Irene -- Very true. But it is also the fellow travelers we meet along the way.

Anonymous said...

what a wonderful experience! i'm so glad you were willing to follow the young man.

something you said made me wonder about your spanish lessons. are you still taking them? if so, how are they coming along?

seguramente ya hablas bastante espanol, verda?

have a great day and many more adventures.

Anonymous said...

oops-i forgot to write my name on that last one.


- Mexican Trailrunner said...

"But it is also the fellow travelers we meet along the way."
That's true, but you have to travel to meet them.
Meet more! Meet more!

Steve Cotton said...

Teresa -- I assumed it was you. I stopped taking my Spanish lessons when Jiggs was in the process of dying. Even though I am not taking classes, I am following through on my computer-based lessons.

glorv1 said...

Sounds like excitement is in the air and it's all around you. I think it's great that you've decided to try new things. Have a great Wednesday.

Julian in SC said...

I agree... it is about the people you meet that makes the journey worthwhile.

I was down the yesterday, having just went with a friend to see a friend of ours coping with terminal cancer. He is just one of several friends that are fighting that hard battle. It truly makes you realize that you are not promised a tomorrow and you need to enjoy your day today.

Take care,


Anonymous said...

Good for you Steve. If you get a chance watch "Bucket List" and then make your list. You are doing great and keep your newsy blogs coming my way!

Anonymous said...

Sure, play the big guy, splashing your empty head under water at midnight!

But those wet new trousers! Oi!

Anonymous said...

You inherited the fear of getting your head under water from your mother. I did tho’, learn when taking lessons at the “Apple Orchard”, that it is much better to dive in the water head first than to jump in feet first. You come to the surface sooner. Even so, I still don’t like to get my head under water.

It is so great that you can recognize people you have met years ago. Better still is the fact that you are willing to speak to them and continue the friendship.


Steve Cotton said...

Mexican Trailrunner -- Soon. Soon.

Gloria -- The air here crackles with excitement.

Julian -- Time is the rarest of resources.

Anonymous -- I have avoided a bucket list. I want my adventure to be as spontaneous as possible.

Anonymous II -- Who said anything about any sort of trousers?

Mom -- I would have preferred inheriting your business sense.

Anonymous said...

Wow Steve, that's terrific. (I'm not being sarcastic). Challenging old fears on a whim is exactly what we all need to do.

Now, get out and see the country!!!

Fond regards,

Kim G
Boston, Ma
Where we continually wonder when we will take the figurative plunge and cut free from our (good) but constraining job.

Steve Cotton said...

Kim -- Dump the job. Life down here is fantastic. And I will start the touring as soon as -- Ah, but that is another post.