Right This Minute You're On This One-Way, One-Time Trip

Unless you are Hindu, you are pretty much resigned to the fact and fate that this life is just once. Magnificently, frightfully, unrepeatably once. And you’re hurtling closer to your next birthday every day.

When you’re hurtling toward 30 or 40 or even 50, it’s not so bad. But try 90…! That’s my next big one, if and when I arrive on time. Permit me, then, the generational arrogance of telling you what this will mean to you when you [sooner than you know] find yourself on the other side of 80.

Among the inevitable miasma of feelings, fears, and fantasies will be nighttime recollections of the many firsts in your life. You will find them splashing across the screen of your mind from first Christmases …first school days…. first college days…first children and anniversaries and burials. But just maybe the most extraordinary first will be your first love. That first slit in the monotony of time when something remarkably unexpected bursts out and into your life like a missile. For the very first time something without your parents, family, community, or religion involved; simply that once-in-a-star-time when a wonderfully giddy, gushy, tsunami of passions roars through the DNA of just the private two of you.

It was just after WWII. Her name was Bonnie. Five foot two, eyes of blue, and a way of holding and touching me that I can feel all these weathered years later. She was the Village Queen of our school whose brief infatuation with me made her to me the rival of Mark Antony’s Cleopatra and Charles Schulz’s “little red haired girl.”

However, my friend, when you too gaze back, take a finer focus. If so, you are likely to discover what I did. Bonnie was more than my first love…! she was my last youth….!

You see, each age in a life has a place and a purpose all its own. When it comes to our youth, its place is as precious as the first tender sprouts of a Spring garden; its purpose is to gird you with just enough joy and innocence so as to get you through the trials and travails that hide ahead. In other words — Bonnie, you belong not just in my heart of hearts, but in my mind of minds. It was what you unintentionally did for my youth which has helped keep the child in me alive. At least just enough to make it through the nights.

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