When I was in high school and knew all the answers to life’s questions, I lived in South Minneapolis near Lake Harriet. I quickly became enamored by the beauty of the city, and took to walking (and cross country skiing) in the city’s many parks and around the lakes, with boys, my girlfriend Liz, and by myself.
In May of my sophomore (Year 10) year, I went on a stroll to Lake Harriet Rose Garden. It was an awkward time of the day; mothers and children had all left with dinners on their minds; and an awkward time of spring, a fair few weeks to go for the roses, so bushes were trimmed and rows tidied, but no blossom, not even one, to admire or smell or point at.
There was an old man walking, just as unsure of what to do as I, but still wanting to enjoy the moment, as I. We skirted around each other until it became awkward not to say hello.
I can’t remember which one of us said the first words, nor do I remember what was said. We might have agreed it was a pity it’s too early for the flowers. We might have pointed at the fattest bud. At one point, I commented he was a good looking gentleman, almost as handsome as Paul Newman in The Sting, only much, much older. The gentleman might haves smiled, or he might have said “Well, thank you, that’s a complement coming from a young lady.” I don’t remember. It might have been all of three minutes before we ran out of things to say.
That night the last item on the news reported The Most Beautiful Paul Newman was enjoying a short stay in town, before a racing weekend in Brainerd, a little further north. It was 1975, I was all of 17, Mr Newman would have been 50. All that mattered was I knew was I was living the best years of my life, and every moment was vivid and fresh.
I turned 50 this year, and I can’t remember much about my youth. I remember names and places, oh, sure, but moments don’t glitter and shine the same, and I sometimes have to calculate months and years to put important moments into “context”. And that’s just my youth; never mind that I can’t remember what I’ve done this year, who I met last week, why I rushed upstairs just now. And yet, 50 doesn’t feel that old. I’m still the same girl looking out from inside the same body, still aware that these are the good days.
* * * * *
I admit it was a bit disingenuous on my part. I wanted the last bit to be... "still waiting for the roses to bloom," but the blurb wouldn't have ended on a a high note, and I like happy endings. I wonder if that makes me a lier. Hum...