Monday, June 29, 2009

Summer's Lease

Last summer, my brother asked me some existential questions:

Where do you and I fit into this amorphous world?
Can we create a whole new us simply by saying its so?
How many of our friends, associates, work colleagues, and people at large are simply a fabrication?

"Personally, I have decided I am a retired brain surgeon who succeeded brilliantly and retired on a very comfortable stock portfolio that sadly was ruined by Enron. Don't pity me though. I still have my Swiss bank account to fall back on."

His questions, and his concluding "fabrication" brought to my mind a number of people I knew in college, anywhere from a couple of years younger than I to a couple of years older, who all liked to "pretend " that they had experienced first - hand the "cool" 1960s -- Woodstock, Viet Nam, Martin Luther King. Never mind that they would have been little kids in 4th or 5th grade (as was I).

Yes, I learned of those things, and perhaps partially understood some of them at the time; but only on a second - hand basis -- from my big brother, who actually went to Viet Nam, from Newsweek, Readers' Digest, popular music ("Hair," "Abraham, Martin & John," etc.), eaves - dropping on adult conversation, trailing my older sister and her husband around their college campus, and so forth. But I don't think I was out there dancing in the streets during the Summer of Love when I was 10 years old, was I?

However, there they were, these peers of mine, passing themselves off as having marched on Washington and burned their draft cards. Yeah, right. I used to really want to burst their sham conversational bubble by inquiring what year they were born, but instead I just rolled my eyes and accepted the sad reality that I myself had been born too late to be truly hip. Alas.

These days -- now that I'm older -- I summer in an old mansion in the South of France -- or Italy (you pick), lounging around the pool, reading in my p.j.s most of the day, maybe swimming a few laps or strolling leisurely up to the village market for some fresh vegetables and bread, but never really cooking or cleaning or paying any bills (hey, there aren't any!). No major pool upkeep or yard work required, just the odd bit of light gardening here & there. We pick a lot of berries, but nothing so strenuous as turning them into jam by standing, stirring over a boiling hot stove. The tomatoes are abundant but never need to be processed or canned or frozen . . . just sliced and eaten with feta cheese and olive oil.

If you can make yourself believe it, then it's true.

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