Old flames can burn

Losing your life’s companion is a hell of a thing. Particularly for ‘people of a certain age,’ as the euphemism goes. Some widows and widowers go out and find someone new and start another relationship, while others are way too disinclined to go down that road again. How tiresome it could be, getting to know someone else all over again and them getting to know you. Seeing if you fit together, working that damn jigsaw puzzle again. Most old folks don’t have the time or the patience for jigsaw puzzles.

If you can’t hack it alone, it seems to me the best bet would be to try and re-ignite with an old flame. A lover from the seventies who is in a similar situation as yourself. Someone who knows you already. So you can skip the introductory bull. I doubt if it would work for me though. Some of my former flames would sooner burn my ass than dance with it. I came with too much emotional and psychological baggage, a manic-depressive, one day I would be a novelty item who jumped out of a Cracker Jack box, and the next, a Sturm und Drang maniac.

Relationships in the seventies were like rugby scrimmages. We were all players and many players got muddied and some got bloodied. I got lucky. One tough lady emerged from combat and for good or ill walked off the field with Buffalo Bill. And stayed with me for thirty-four years. For which I am forever thankful. And without her, I am forever saddened.

Which is why she cannot be replaced. I have my cat and my booze and my books and my movies and a cozy hovel to live in, and when I want to step out and find some action, me and my 1860 genuine replica Henry repeating rifle mosey on down to the gun range, just a mile from the house and squeeze off a few. Ah, the pop-pop-pop culture of America. 

If I’m going to get burned it’ll be from a misfire, not from an old flame.

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The empty house

This is my house. I call it a lowly bungalow. Sometimes I call it a hovel. But it’s my hovel.


Things go wrong, mostly electrical and plumbing malfunctions: the pump that raises water from the well, the water heater, the septic system. The plumber and I have become good friends. He still charges me a hell of a lot, however. But it’s worth it to live in a house, albeit a lowly bungalow.

For most of our life together, my wife and I lived in apartments and condos, suffering the noise and noisome behavior of neighbors on the other side of the walls or above the ceilings of our shoebox abodes.

You end up sharing your neighbors’ lives: you hear them arguing and yelling and going to the bathroom and you smell their cooking which is often a hideous stench. Not only is there no privacy in apartment living, there is no dignity. You wouldn’t want to be on your death bed amid such unpleasantness.

Six years ago my wife and I moved to the country, into this house, all that I could afford. My wife’s health had suffered a setback and it seemed beneficial to have our own home on a country road without neighbors clomping over our heads or racketing on the other side of the walls.

We lived in this house and fought the demons and the pain of her worsening illness. I was the caregiver and she the courageous and stoic sufferer.

The last three years were rough. She was sick unto death. Ambulances in the night, hospital stays and nursing homes became a regular routine. It was an ordeal for both of us. Tempers became strained.

One day, one week, it was hard to tell as time drifted in and out of a purple haze, she would tell me how lucky she was to have me look after her, and the next day or week or moment in hell she would tell me I treated her like shit. It went on like that.

And then it ended. That last ambulance. The claustrophobic room in Intensive Care. The deathly rhythm of the life support machine.

Every other time in the ICU, she was moved after a few days to the Step Down Unit and then some time later allowed to go home. But this time I came home without her. 

And now I live in this house without her. Physically, I live in this house without her. I remember my body leaving that room in the ICU.

But I never left.

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The Summer Wind and the Winter Wind

One night in 1984 I showed up at a woman’s apartment in Miami with a bottle of tequila, a bottle of cointreau and a Frank Sinatra album.

She rolled a couple of joints while I mixed the booze in a pitcher and we sat on the bed smoking grass and drinking hardcore margaritas.

We ended up playing one of the Sinatra songs over and over. You tend to do that when you’re high.

Unlike the guy in the song, I didn’t lose her to the summer wind. We were together for thirty-four years, a turbulent marriage but a solid one. In †he end I lost her to the winter wind.

🎶 And now the days, those lonely days, go on and on…

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