I Have a Long Time to go before I get THAT old!

A short time back, when I was 12 years old, I would look up at the adults surrounding me and think to myself “it will take forever for me to be that old…I have so much time!” And I did have time.

There were days that dragged by. Especially those 12 hour night shifts. There were weeks that seemed to take forever to pass, especially those weeks in December as a child. But pass they did. The days that were dragging by drug faster than I could have imagined. Life happened. I watched it, I lived it, and it has brought me where I am today.

None of you would ever imagine the depth of nostalgia which seems to surround me now. I know I should live for the day, because it is all we are. That movement of time from one second of the present, to many years of the past, in the tic of that clock, in the unexplainable measurement of the passing of our lives which we have invented to total up the sum of our existence, is nefarious and unstoppable.

So we all have more past than we will ever have present, and I long for some of those lost minutes and hours. I realize it’s a waste of the ever ticking clock to yearn for the trail we have left behind, but I don’t care. They are my seconds and I’ll use some of them reliving what has gone before if I wish.

I will fondly remember as much as I can of the good times, and the bad….as I try and drift away to sleep tonight. Sometimes I chuckle, and sometimes tears fill my eyes. I miss the people mostly. Those who I have loved, and even some I didn’t. I see with utter clarity the mistakes I stupidly made. I see a few successes I stumbled into. I see how I could have easily been a better man. It’s like watching a movie you are both the main character and the producer of, and each blaming each other for how things turned out.

Then hopefully I will wake up to a new day, polish my clock, and try to make every one of these remaining seconds count for the good. I know it’s futile, because I know me to well. I’ll find some way to muck up some of that time. Maybe not too much of it though!! Seriously, there are not too many people I can look at now and think “I have a long time left before I get THAT old!” I’d have to visit the nursing home.

Fifty Years Between Beach Trips- A Reckoning from 2016

Fifty years. That’s a long time. Its actually a lifetime.

I have been wondering what has been up with me this week. I just haven’t been normal. Well, I’m not really ever normal anyway, but I I’ll say what passes for normal with me.

I finally figured it out tonight. I had a premonition. Something which never, ever happens to me. But…as I was taking a photo of the sunset….round, huge and pink tonight… I felt a pang and a pain deep inside. It was as if I had seen this view before. This exact view. It touched me as a sadness, almost as a real physical push as I watched the sun sink all the way down into the ocean. I will never see this again. Perhaps I deduced why.

I had been here, on this beach, near this exact spot, fifty years ago almost to the week…perhaps even to the week, watching the sun sink into the Gulf of Mexico. It was my first trip ever to the ocean in June 1966…

School had let out the last part of May. Daddy and Tom Brown had decided to get together with our two families and go to Panama City beach. They had gotten out the maps and plotted the course down old highway 27.

My cousin Judy had never been to the beach either, so she came along with us.

I don’t remember much about the ride except that it was long. The service stations were few and far between, and if you drank too much coke or water and had to pee…well you just had to hold it. So my brother Mike and I did. Hold it, that is.

We stayed at the “Sea Breeze” motel. It was a run down kind of place. They had a “kitchenette” in the place, and when Momma found roaches in it, both she and Daddy hit the ceiling. Daddy went to the front desk and raised t mortal hell with the manager, who immediately sent us down to a little hamburger joint at his expense, while he fumigated the room. It smelled bad when we got back, but there were no more cockroaches. I gotta tell you that’s one thing Florida was famous for back then…the three inch roaches, and there were plenty of them…just not in our room anymore.

With that problem solved, things seemed to go OK from there on out. We stayed five days as I recall.

I was in awe of the ocean. I still am. I couldn’t get over it at first. I finally took my eyes off of it long enough to go to check out the local “game” spot with my buddy Michael Brown. We both bought t shirts with our beach money, which said “Budweiser” across the front. With those shirts on, and with both of us being quite large for our age..we passed ourselves off to the girls who were there as High School seniors. That’s another story for another day….

On the deep sea fishing trip that my Daddy and Mr. Brown had been planning for ages, we caught a mess of red snapper, and I snagged a 33 pound Red grouper which won the “dollar pot” for the largest fish. Forty six dollars! I went and bought a hat and another t-shirt! It was a great trip. I could write a book about that trip…that summer. But the happiness faded. Mom and Dad got into an awful fight when we got home, over of all things…those damn frozen red snapper. I don’t remember the exacts…but it was a bad one.

We never went back to the beach again as a “nuclear” family…just the four of us, although there were plenty of trips in later years after the grandchildren came along.

The next time I went to the ocean, was after I was married. It was in the spring of 1972, when Paula and and I went with some friends to St. Augustine. That was the year Kirsten was born..in August.

So, June of 1966 to June of 2016. Fifty years give or take a few days. I’ve got the pictures from sixty-six to prove I was here. One in the Budweiser shirt. One with the fish. One by the ocean. Got some goofy photos of Mike that he made in one of those fifty cent photo booths. Got a postcard of the “Seabreeze” motel,..minus cockroaches. Don’t have all the people left though.

All the Brown family are gone. Tom, Tommi, Lynn, Michael B. Mom and Dad…Gaines and Evie. That makes six out of the nine who came, and I have transformed from fifteen to sixty five in the blink of an eye………

Except when I was shooting that sunset earlier tonight and I felt my Dad “push” me like he would do back then. That little playful shove…and then go into his little boxing crouch, like “whatcha gonna do about it”. That’s when I remembered where I was, and when I had been here before. And I had the feeling that when I leave here this time, I will not be back to this magical spot again. Not this same spot.

Fifty years is a long time. It’s a lifetime really.