Aging Cycles

My Partner just endured a back surgery last week that involved vertebrae fusions and Stenosis treatment. The aftermath of pain from this is probably unimaginable to most of us, who have been fortunate not to have suffered back issues.  There is now enough titanium inside Jim to render him practically bionic.  Any other metal would pick up FM radio stations.  Having seen his previous X-rays, I would have given the diagnosis that Jim had swallowed an entire Erector Set, based upon the hardware that was placed there before.  His subsequent surgery was apparently part medical and part architectural.

I had to fill several prescriptions at Walgreens for medications, and as I sat in the pleasant little waiting area, my anxieties over what Jim was undergoing gradually but temporarily subsided, as the only sound in the place was a recording of Mary Travers of “Peter, Paul, and Mary,” singing “Leavin’ on a Jet Plane.”  There were others in chairs waiting for their prescriptions to be filled, people with gray hair.  I smiled as I thought of our all being from the same generation, and I was able to read on their faces a kind of nostalgia as we all listened to that music from almost fifty years before, music that was perhaps taking us all back for a few moments to the days of our youth, when we were in high school or college. Without having to speak, we were sharing a collective history together.

“I’m leavin’ on a jet plane.

I don’t know when I’ll be back again…”

As my name was called to pick up the prescriptions, a recording of The Mamas and the Papas played, “California Dreamer.”  It was almost as though Walgreens knew that their clientele at the prescription counter would be people our age, those who need a little extra help in coping with the painful reality of aging.  Then I made my way out the automatic doors into the parking lot and back into the present world, the” real” world, that eventually the young of today will remember nostalgically too, perhaps while sitting in a room in some future Walgreens, waiting for their own prescriptions to be filled, looking back at what it was like to be young, and sharing that bliss silently with others from their own time.  The winter of one’s life isn’t so bad if only he can recall sometimes those warm, sunny days of being young.  JB

“All the leaves are brown and the sky is grey.

I’ve been for a walk on a winter’s day.

I’d be safe and warm if I was in L.A.

California dreaming on such a winter’s day.”

About John

John Bolinger was born and raised in Northwest Indiana, where he attended Ball State University and Purdue University, receiving his BA and MA from those schools. Then he taught English and French for thirty-five years at Morton High School in Hammond, Indiana before moving to Colorado. He spends his winters in Pompano Beach, Florida. Besides COME SEPTEMBER, Journey of a High School Teacher, John's other books are ALL MY LAZY RIVERS, an Indiana Childhood, and COME ON, FLUFFY, THIS AIN'T NO BALLET, a Novel on Coming of Age, all available on Amazon.com as paperbacks and Kindle books. Alternately funny and touching, COME SEPTEMBER, conveys the story of every high school teacher’s struggle to enlighten both himself and his pupils, encountering along the way, battles with colleagues, administrators, and parents through a parade of characters that include a freshman boy for whom the faculty code name is “Spawn of Satan,” to a senior girl whose water breaks during a pop-quiz over THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS. Through social change and the relentless march of technology, the human element remains constant in the book’s personal, entertaining, and sympathetic portraits of faculty, students, parents, and others. The audience for this book will certainly include school teachers everywhere, teenagers, parents of teens, as well as anyone who appreciates that blend of humor and pathos with which the world of public education is drenched. The drive of the story is the narrator's struggle to become the best teacher he can be. The book is filled with advice for young teachers based upon experience of the writer, advice that will never be found in college methods classes. Another of John's recent books is Mum's the Word: Secrets of a Family. It is the story of his alcoholic father and the family's efforts to deal with or hide the fact. Though a serious treatment of the horrors of alcoholism, the book also entertains in its descriptions of the father during his best times and the humor of the family's attempts to create a façade for the outside world. All John's books are available as paperbacks and Kindle readers on Amazon, and also as paperbacks at Barnes & Noble. John's sixth and most recent book, Growing Old in America: Notes from a Codger was released on June 15, 2014.
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