Goodbye to what? Well, the details of that are quite numerous and complicated. The conceptual answer is so much more simple.
First, I am so delighted this post follows Joyce’s glorious post of all of her and Blair’s adventures here in the City of Lights! I really take such great joy in hearing them talk when they return from a day out and recap in their unique way. And, to get photos and a narrative couldn’t be better. Paris, what a special place.
We are coming upon our halfway point in the planned European portion of our 2022 adventures. And it is becoming apparent to both Joyce and I, from our incredibly different yet wonderfully similar perspectives, that it is possible we may need further revisions. You’ve known from my earliest posts that these adventures, for me, are about us building back a life together. Simply put, US. I was committed, yet unconvinced of the outcome. And you know what, we have been incredibly successful. You’ll also recall Joyce’s thirst for adventure, in the traditional sense, has been more than mine from the outset. That was ok, as we found plenty of opportunity for US in Brooklyn! And, while NOLA became even less, it was still enough. Well, maybe it isn’t now.
Joyce and I are both incredibly stubborn. It is just true. And, we both quite reluctantly abandon plans. Particularly plans like we are in the middle of. During our Canterbury stay we set in motion a revision to Italy. It was to be Verona, Napoli and Roma – each for four to five days. It became abundantly clear making that happen logistically was a pipe dream. So, we consolidated it to all of our Italy stay being headquartered in Roma. Not bad at all.
Today is our 5th full day in Paris. Here is where my hard part starts, as it is going to sound so lame. But, as Jim Kelley taught me, all progress begins with the truth. Our setup here is in a four or five story building built around a courtyard. It is the anti- Brooklyn and the anti-Canterbury in that we get so little “traffic” that can be viewed from our -0.5 story apartment and its glorious windows. I have been outside the courtyard exactly five times. Two of the days, not a once. The adventuring trips (Tuesday at Picasso Museum; today at The Louvre) were early aborted adventures.
June 30, 2020 I redeemed my partnership interest in TYS, LLP. It was a dark period for me that was completely confounding. I’d been planning this for most of my professional career. Certainly the last five years were wonderfully executed. I came to realize I was grieving, as I had “lost” something incredibly important to me. And I am now coming to realize that much of my emotional darkness is due to a series of losses. In rapid succession – TYS, Eating, Golf, Hiking, Adventure, WELLNESS. In a nutshell, as I said to Joyce last night during one of our wonderfully vulnerable chats, it feels like parts of my life are passing before my eyes.
Eating & Golf. I’m grouping these two for a reason. I believe the sharing of these two loves was what built one particular relationship. At least in my earlier days and the parts that mostly remained good. That relationship? Dad. I haven’t ever really grieved Dad’s passing. And if I did most of the grief occurred while he was still alive. Golf and eating’s passing from my life over the last two years has been heightened by them being two things that gave my relationship with Dad anything special. I have a handful of vivid early memories involving golf and eating and Dad is the dominant figure in those memories. As a family, shortly after we moved to R&R (1964) Dad had searched out and found a wonderful Chinese restaurant and a terrific Mexican restaurant. I don’t recall the name of the Chinese restaurant. The Mexican was Casa Gonzalez. And my parents kept going to that restaurant and its descendants for nearly five decades. We always went on a Sunday evening, all six of us. Dad would order, we’d eat family style and enjoy that community we call family. Among us, Dad, Mom, Steve and I are the food appreciators. Mike and Sue, not so much. And while eating was very much shared, golf was mine and mine alone with Dad. My earliest memory of golfing on a golf course was at Lake Chabot on an early Easter Sunday I believe in 1965. Dad took all three of us boys. I would have been almost 7, Mike 9 1/2 and Steve almost 11. Yes, those were different times. But still. Thomas boys were and always will be passionate livers – hellions. I came later to understand this was the golf course Grandad (Lacy) introduced Dad to the game. It remains a very special place in my life. Over the nearly 50 years I played, I probably went back there 10ish times. I love that place. Dad deserves credit for taking us, all three never having played, and making it something other than a complete shit show. I now think I understand and appreciate some of Dad’s darkness at specific times. I love you Dad!
Hiking. In the middle of my cancer treatment, likely in early August, Mike Quillin showed up one evening at 111 Camrose Place. I’ve written some about the special feeling I have for those that did. Mike is special beyond special. Up to this time Mike and my relationship was mostly casual. Mostly superficial. (I hope, if you meet Mike, he’ll share a story on me and Multi-League. Mike is a wonderful story teller. I’m known for being great material, almost always in a shit for brains (me), or as Mike says “cud sack” way.) From this point forward, it became more. Mike, I think gets me better than anyone not named Joyce. He is my whisperer. And relationships only get that through deep commitment and effort by two people. Mike has always been a nature guy. It is one of his happiest places. During cancer treatment Mike just showed up. Nothing ever planned. Didn’t need to be. Where was I going? And as treatment ended and I was able to move around some, he introduced me to hiking. I still remember the first time in Walnut Creek Open Space. I think we walked all of 500 or 600 feet. It was a start. Mike has always called our hikes “walks”. Maybe this is partly why. Over the course of the next 10ish years we accomplished some amazing hikes, including a handful of backpacking adventures. Over much of Western US. Mike has gone on to be nearly 80% complete with the PCT. Amazing!! Mike gave me the gift of hiking. I never was much into being fit for 50 years of my life. Mike, through hiking, gave me fitness. We walked through some tumultuous times in our lives – my cancer, his hep C and hip replacement. It was the most glorious 10 years and I think the best relationship I have ever had with another man. I love you, my friend. I am still processing my sense of loss with hiking.
My purpose for this post is simple. It helps me express and emote. And I realize some of you who know me at least a little bit, often care. I learned during the adventures of GTPTOH (cancer journey blog) that if I keep this shit bottled up inside me, it poisons me. I really am not looking for pity, or even sympathy. Not at all. I am looking for something far greater, understanding.
So, if you see we’ve chosen to curtail our current adventures, please don’t take it for giving up. Regardless of when we get back to CA, I have promised Joyce and myself that I will work to accept the passing of those parts of my life and to instead focus on what opportunities await me. I will accept the feeding tube should that be the best path. I will work to get my chronic neck / back pain under control through whatever means available. I will work with my Stanford Neurologist (yes, a fucking Stanford brain surgeon on MY team!) to better manage my dizziness.
And regardless of whether this is a forever farewell to Europe, or simply a period to recover and recalibrate, I am committed to seeing this out.