ROUTE 66

“…One day you will look back and you will realize that every experience you ever had, every seeming mistake or blind alley was actually a straight line to who you were meant to be…”                                                                                                                                                                   Richard Castle

I was the first born of two sons of The Greatest Generation. The breadth of the world my parents grew up in had been the route of a streetcar and indeed, but for the military and honeymoon, neither may have left Ohio.

The shared bedroom with Grandma Cele ended abruptly.  I was two when (perhaps planting the seed for my mid-life abandonment issues) she left me for another man: Grandpa Irv.

Three years later — whether affordable or not — the Family Von Bogart settled eastward in the shtetle of South Euclid. ‘Twas a seemingly perfect 50′s equation: 1 upwardly mobile husband, 1 perfectly Stepford wife, and two  freshly-scrubbed “nice Jewish boys”.

Days would mean school, baseball, and playing by the rules. Nights were filled living in a house that I didn’t know was small, playing with walking-distance friends, and bonding to a family where each branch of the tree was bigger than the last. Two brothers…four cousins … seven second cousins … a dozen or so first cousins once removed, all kinds of Great aunts and uncles, of course: CousinMarilynFromDetroit (YES, all one word!). (Ed. Note 1:  Not unlike many families of The Diaspora, we had one relation absolutely no one ever knew HOW we were related to…but we were.).

The nest was tight, global, and mine ‘til it wasn’t.

Big Bar Mitzvah in ’62 … parents split in ’63. Mom remarried in ’65 and by ’66, staring at a junior prom, Ermine found me a date. (Ed. Note 2: It did not escape me that Little brother Hal, Bar Mitzvahed sixteen months after me “became a man” four years before me).

Baseball and football on streets never mean (except when bullies like Bobby Stain or Jerry Wolfe would take our ball and — for no reason at all — throw it on the roof.) …World Champion White Sox in Little League…the perennial champion Sol’s Boys on sandlots….

—Always blessed with friends: The Excels, R.E.N., Shiloh AZA.

East Lansing in ’67, Columbus in ’68, contact lenses in ’69, love in ’70.

Selling shoes for Wieder’s Uncle Izzie, Highlights For Children, The Army, a Dear John letter, a wedding, law school…

Michael, Jamie, Stacy …

Adam, Rocky, Adam …

—The pals of youth and adulthood, be they diehard or dick.  (They all mattered; they all taught; they’re all treasured).

The lodge, the divorce, the booze, the bottom.

— Family, friends that would carry me after my marriage.
— Friends, family would lift me to recovery.

Rolo, Jodi, The Envelope:  trumping Love@Aol, and Match.com and JDate.

Margie and Harold (who always were there).

Never losing Aunt Helen OR my sense of humor…

Reuniting with my God.

Breakfasts with Holsman and Jacobson on Saturdays … with The Boys Of Summer on Wednesdays.

The phony phone calls with Stuart then and Yes, a half/century later, in the midst of pure nonsense hearing Bobby chirp: “What are you egging him on for?”

The loss of my father, and my mother… and Ben, and Lil …

And my treasured friend David.

From the plays I got cast in to the directors that rejected me..

To the joys of six grandchildren — the jewels on the crown —

To finding Carrie when I wasn’t looking —                                                                                                                                                                                 To seeing Carrie, and quickly knowing!

To remarriage, rebirth, remembering.

—And above all: to the splendor of my time-worn eyesight which permits me to perceive beauty in life’s pauses, value in its detours, and magic in the journey.

I cherish the past, every experience and “blind alley”. I smile at the future (win, lose, or draw).  Most importantly though, pushing 66 I’m embracing my present.

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