I badly needed to do some grocery shopping and, after three late nights in a row, found that Thursday morning was my best opportunity.  The Unimarc around the corner plays a station that plays almost entirely American pop-rock from the 80s.  So it was that I found myself singing along to Foreigner’s I Want to Know What Love Is with a cashier a little before 9 in the morning.  This would be a decent opening to a rom-com, or at least a reasonable plot to a music video, were it not for the fact that she was married and in her 60s and I am happily married myself.  Or, maybe, that makes it a better video. If only either of us could sing.  The poor student volunteer bagger was obviously unimpressed.

Earlier, as I debated which tea to buy, Journey’s Faithfully played. It’s a song that is fitting to my current situation, with my love just under 5,000 miles away.  Rumor has it that Prince asked Journey for clearance for his Purple Rain.  The idea is that Prince thought the ending riff was a little too close to that in Faithfully.  The Journey band member who told this story said they were only too glad to give Prince clearance and that they thought it unnecessary.  If, he said, Purple Rain and Faithfully were similar, the former took the higher ground.

As usual, I digress.

The idea of bridging the gap of separation was on my mind the last little while.  A project I was working on before heading to South America was going through my grandfather’s letters and journals, many dating to before and during World War II.  I did this far too slowly and will return to it when I get home.  Nana and Papa were married before the war started and over their lives would visit all 48 states as they loved to travel and, especially, to travel together, which sounds very familiar.  Papa also spent some time in England, France and Belgium, a trip Nana was, I imagine, happy not to share.  Papa wrote prolifically during the war.  He spent much of it stateside, which probably leads to my existing, but stationed well away from Nana.  The pain of separation is clear in the letters as is some wonder that, via airmail he could stay connected to his family. Think of how revolutionary airmail would seem in the 1930s and 40s in that a soldier in Belgium could scribble some notes on cheap parchment and send his thoughts, love and prayers thousands of miles in just a few weeks.

I was thinking about these letters again in this light last night as I watched Wake Forest lose in the ACC tournament while I talked to my wife on the phone.  I alerted her to an incredibly improbable, if not impossible, shot made by the Deacs at the close of the first half.  Think of that miracle: me sitting in an apartment in Santiago, watching, live, a ball game in Brooklyn, and then calling, in real time, a woman in Winston-Salem who could immediately switch channels and see a replay (okay, dozens of replays) of the shot.  Certainly, Mary and I have the better end of our separation than Nana and Papa did theirs.  And that’s before considering the notable lack of Nazis trying to kill me here in Chile.  It still doesn’t make it easy.

To tie this theme up, after unpacking my groceries, I took a look at Facebook and was immediately updated on the activities of dozens of friends spanning the globe.  Pretty cool.  I was also shown my “Memories”.  If you’re a facebook user, you know this drill.  “How could that be 8 years ago!” is at least as good a wake up jolt as a cup of coffee.  Anyway, it turns out that, on this day two years ago, Mary and I were standing on the fault between the North American and Eurasian continental plates.  In snow and a very cold wind.  One year ago today, I was with a friend from graduate school on a mountain outside Kingman, Arizona.  No snow, but a very cold wind. Today, I’m buying groceries and singing schlocky 80s love ballads with a Unimarc cashier.  No snow, but I did have to close the windows last night.

Quite a world we live in.  But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.

March 9, 2015


March 9, 2016


March 9, 2017




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