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Growing up slowly

I’m standing in the kitchen of my home in Copenhagen. It’s been snowing and the branches of the tall cedars behind the house are heavy with white. The reflected light, cool but embracing, changes the room in a magical fashion.

It’s Friday and from both personal and professional standpoints, this has been a difficult week. I’m incredibly tired; I hope there will be time to read a forgettably bad novel this weekend. Monday will mark the start of another difficult week.

As I gaze at the Currier & Ives landscape, a memory rushes back to me. It was Friday the 12th of February. Many years ago. In Highland Park, Illinois.

I was in Miss Ellis’s fifth grade at the time. The class had exchanged Valentines Day cards that morning; Margo Dessauer, who sat across from me, said we were lucky to be 11 – young enough to be considered children, but old enough to understand and remember what was going on around us. Margo was really smart.

Later, Jim Fieldman outskated me during an ice-hockey game. And around noon, we were sent home for the weekend. I trudged through the snow past Marcia Weiland’s house and Vicky Vietsch’s house, and John Moroz’s house, down Wade Avenue to the corner where my best friend, Jon Kassel, lived, and then up the hill to our home on Cedar Avenue.

My mother made me a warm lunch. As she cooked, I gazed out the kitchen window. Snow. Cedars. Wonderful light. Jon came over and we spent the afternoon exploring the ravine behind our houses before dusk and dinner called an end to our expedition. When I returned, my father was home, there was a fire in the fireplace, and life was lovely.

Today, gazing at the snow, I wish I was back exploring ravines in Highland Park. But I’m not. I don’t live in the past and I normally don’t dwell on it. But today, well, here I am with my coffee and Copenhagen and a sudden, intense memory. And I’m thinking there must be a message in this somewhere.


My father passed away in 1988. I miss him. My mother is alive – but there are good days and bad days. I miss her, too.

Jon and I haven’t seen each other in years. I moved away from Highland Park in 1972. Happily, we found each other on the internet a few months ago.

Various events in my late ‘teens caused me to grow up quickly. A friend once remarked that I was “eighteen going on forty”. This was not a compliment but an expression of concern.

So maybe this is the message: today might become one of the “good old days” you’ll later yearn for. Enjoy it. Live life to the fullest.

And don’t grow up too fast.
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