One Headline To Rule Them All…Frodo Too

Got Joni Mitchell singing songs that simultaneously make me reflect upon the past, present and future and wonder how they all manage to intersect.

Still looking at stones for Dad and trying to figure out which one works best and which words wish to greet us and all else who visit him.

Can’t ever sum him up in a few or in many because words are never enough to truly define who a person is or isn’t to you, to me and to others.

The old man would be the first to nod his head and to remind us that we shouldn’t stress about it. “Pick them and move on.”

Not hard to picture, dream about or hear because I had 49 years with the guy and spent more than a few minutes discussing things.

Talked about the very big, important and life changing stuff too before he walked into the corn searching for Shoeless Joe and company.

I think he made a guest appearance in my dreams last night because I have this sense we talked “tachlis” and held back nothing.

Which leads me to the following:

Sometimes you reach the moment of awkward spaces and places and have to stop and acknowledge there is no map or guidance beyond that small inner voice.

One Headline To Rule Them All…Frodo Too

These teenagers of mine tell me they think their old man is a mix of crazy and ridiculous determination.

They ask what drives me and wonder why my speech and stories are peppered with pop culture and history references they don’t always catch.

“Was grandpa like that with you?’

“Not with the pop culture references. He knew many but he was unlikely to talk about the one ring or insert a Godfather reference into conversation with me. But if he wanted something done or was trying to accomplish something he was driven and you were going to be too.”

They ask the obvious question, “why must you do that to us too?”

“I try not to do the things I didn’t like and that I don’t see as helpful. The last part is the key part of that sentence, “I don’t see as helpful. I might not have liked some things but it doesn’t mean they aren’t useful or smart.

Do things the right way the first time and you don’t have to repeat them.”

****

There are conversations with Texans who have traveled or are about to go to Los Angeles that make me smile.

Sometimes it is simple because it is nice talking about those spaces and places that helped make me who I am today and sometimes it is because I hear dad’s voice.

I’m a native Angeleno, born raised in LA.

Spent the first few years of my life in the city and then moved to the Valley.

Though we routinely crossed over Laurel Canyon to go to Hollywood to see my grandparents it took a little while for me to know how to get around to places other than their apartment, Fairfax, Farmer’s Market and or Kiddieland in Beverly Hills.

Took a while before I appreciated that Kiddieland helped to inspire Walt Disney to build Disneyland or that not everyone had a grandfather that would take them to the Santa Monica Pier.

Flash forward back to the present to conversations with those who intend to be tourists in my home city and as I offer advice and guidance I hear dad.

Sometimes it is an echo from my youth.

Dad was born in LA too, but my grandparents moved him to Chicago and Pittsburgh before returning to LA for his high school years.

I hear him talk about snow days in elementary school and how he and my uncle went to Kiddieland just as I did. He offers directions from parts of the Valley and the city and I realize I don’t know how to do the same.

It doesn’t occur to me that I am about 10 years-old and it shouldn’t make a difference that I don’t know how to do the same, but fast forward 40 years and things have changed.

I can give directions from about any part of the city except it doesn’t matter because the people I am speaking with don’t know they can take Wilshire from the West side into Downtown or that Sepulveda might be a good alternative to the 405.

I can tell them, but they don’t know the city well enough for tips like these to make sense or be useful and they won’t have to rely upon a Thomas guide to help them.

They’ll use a GPS to get around.

I have a love/hate relationship with my GPS, I call her June and sometimes I tell her I am sorry and I unplug her because if I let her guide me everywhere I won’t ever learn how to get around the Metroplex the way I need to, the way I can get around LA.

But she goes everywhere with me and is always there if I need her, good old June, my constant companion.

She hasn’t been around for but a portion of my life but sometimes I can’t remember a time when she wasn’t there.

What’s Real & What’s Memory

July 21st will mark the 15th anniversary of Dad’s triple bypass and two days later my daughter reach the one quarter of 60 mark.

Except this time around I won’t call dad and tell him not to scare us into having a big party or something like that.

This time around I won’t tell him about how my grandfather told me to book a flight to New Jersey because he was going to go get his son and bring him home.

Come July I’ll get to sit with myself and determine what is real and what is memory.

I won’t tell get to remind dad that my other grandfather told me not to worry about flying out to New Jersey because he could handle everything that was going on in LA.

He told me to help my other grandfather bring their son/son-in-law home.

My grandfathers were in their nineties then. Can’t tell you the precise words they used, can only guess at what is real and what is memory.

But I know they both said what they said and meant it.

The echoes of the past don’t always fade and sometimes can be heard in the present and the future.

I can hear the 0ne say to me he is going to talk Jewish to the other and remember the Yiddish flowing freely. I can hear them advise me on this and smile as they assured me not to worry.

“You’ll figure it out. Use your head, but don’t let it run all your choices. Use your heart too, but don’t let it over power the head either.”

Contradictions that didn’t make much sense then do now and it all comes back again.

Sometimes you reach the moment of awkward spaces and places and have to stop and acknowledge there is no map or guidance beyond that small inner voice.

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