Friday, July 2, 2010

Let us die young or let us live forever

This is the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island as seen from offshore on Lake Huron. Most of the motion picture, "Somewhere in Time," was filmed here. It is about traveling back in time to the hotel in the early years of the 20th Century, and it is one of my favorite films in that genre.

Once upon a time in the past

Part 2 of (for now) 2 (I think)

Some years are eventful and memorable. Other years slide by with nothing especially remarkable occurring, and blend in with the passage of time in nondescript ways.

I spent a few hours thinking about my thirtieth and thirty-first years this week. The reason why those years fell out of the hat is not relevant to this conversation. Whatever .... here are a few things from those years:

The canoe trek from which my post, "Swim with me where the river flows deeply," that appeared on this page in March 2009, was based on an experience that happened when I was thirty. It was the story of a canoe excursion and a near drowning on the Escanaba River in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

Michigan was the setting for several fascinating experiences for me when I was thirty and thirty-one.

I canoed for the first time among ice floes on Lake Superior.

I made my first visit to Mackinac Island in Lake Huron. The island, and most specifically, the Grand Hotel, was the setting for, "Somewhere in Time," a time-travel film I greatly enjoy.

With a copy of Ernest Hemingway's short stories in one hand, I read from "The Big Two-Hearted River" as I walked over an old, steel, railroad bridge -- literally following the footsteps he made two generations before my own:

"Nick .... walked down the railroad track to the bridge over the river. The river was there. It swirled against the log spires of the bridge. Nick looked down into the clear, brown water, colored from the pebbly bottom, and watched the trout keeping themselves steady in the current with wavering fins .... Nick watched them a long time ....

"Nick's heart tightened as the trout moved. He felt all the old feeling. He turned and looked down the stream. It stretched away, pebbly-bottomed with shallows and big boulders and a deep pool as it curved away around the foot of a bluff ....

"Nick walked .... along the road feeling the ache from the pull of the heavy pack. The road climbed steadily. It was hard work walking up-hill. His muscles ached and the day was hot, but Nick felt happy. He felt he had left everything behind, the need for thinking, the need to write, other needs. It was all back of him."

I spent a few days walking beside and canoeing upon Hemingway's Fox River near Seney, Michigan, which was the actual site of the "Two-Hearted" story.

On New Year's Eve that year, I went out with a group of friends. Somewhere along the line, I met a young lady. Somewhere along the line, I left my group and she left her group, and she came home with me and spent the night with me. The next day, I drove her to the airport and she flew away to her actual home and away from me -- forever. We kept in contact for a while, but never saw each other again. Once more, I sense the echo of Robert Frost and "The Road Not Taken."

Not long after I turned thirty-one, I rose from being a reporter to become a managing editor. From this event came a tale some people simply will not believe. I was content being a reporter and living life in the woodlands and on the water, and very indecisive when offered the post of managing editor. It would mean much more responsibility, much more work and time at work -- much more than required for simply being a reporter. But, it would mean much more money, too.

I sought out my best friend to discuss the matter. He was working at his home, rotating the tires on his car, as a matter of fact. I had brought a bottle of wine for each of us to assist in solving my dilemma. Since he was working, I climbed up into a huge, old, pine tree to consume my bottle of wine, while he remained on terra firma, doing his task and drinking his wine.

By the time I had made a decision about the job offer, we each had consumed eleven bottles of wine. The first six of mine, I drank from my perch in the pine tree. As I said, there have been times when I have told this story that some people would not or could not believe my compadre and I each drank eleven bottles of wine. Oh, yes. We did.

There were other memorable canoe trips during my thirtieth and thirty-first years and, since I still was a hunter at the time, a few adventures in that regard. One involved waking up in the early morning hours when my tent collapsed upon me under the weight of about fifteen inches of snow fallen overnight. Another time was watching a mother bobcat and her babies rollicking in the snow in the middle of an absolute wilderness on a pristine, winter day.

The events mentioned here are among the first things that enter my mind when I recall my thirtieth and thirty-first years. These were good years for me.

By the way, the young lady's name was Marsha. She was a university student from Detroit, who had spent the week between Christmas and New Year's Day way up north with her best friend. She had black hair, and wore it short. She was ten years younger than I was, which seemed to be a vast gulf at the time. She was very beautiful.

Do you really want to live forever?

Two days ago, on June 30, one of the songs I posted was "Forever Young." Some of the words captivate me, so I decided to post the lyrics in their entirety here today. The way Laura Branigan sings the song also captivates me, so I decided to repeat it here again today.

And, although the audio quality leaves very, very, very much to be desired, also posted is her rendition of "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow." I picked this song from among her others because it seems to be an appropriate fit for a portion of the words I wrote in my post today.

And, I cannot help but to mention that Ms. Branigan and my second wife could easily have passed for sisters. Perhaps, that is another reason I like her music. Affection sometimes remains even after love has vanished.

For those not familiar with her, Ms. Branigan was a singer and a songwriter and an actress. She died in 2004 at the age of 47 from a brain aneurysm.

And, now she lives forever through her music.

Lyrics from the song "Forever Young"
by Marian Gold & Frank Mertens & Bernhard Lloyd

Let's dance in style let's dance for a while
Heaven can wait we're only watching the skies
Hoping for the best but expecting the worst
Are you gonna drop the bomb or not?

Let us die young or let us live forever
We don't have the power but we never say never
Sitting in a sandpit life is a short trip
The music's for the sad men
Can you imagine when the space is one
As we turn our faces into the sun
Praising our leaders we're getting in tune
The music's played by the mad men

Forever young
I want to be forever young
Do you really want to live forever?
Forever and ever

Forever young
I want to be forever young
Do you really want to live forever?
Forever, forever young

Some are like water some are like the heat
Some are the melody and some are the beat
Sooner or later they all will be gone
Why don't they stay young?

It's so hard to get old without a cause
I don't want to perish like a fading horse
Youth's like diamonds in the sun
And diamonds are forever
So many adventures couldn't happen today
So many songs we forgot to play
So many dreams waiting out of the blue
We'll let them come true

Forever young
I want to be forever young
Do you really want to live forever?
Forever and ever

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