Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Simple Delights

Yesterday I received an email. Not exactly “Stop the Presses!” news—I just checked and see that my Gmail “in” box contains 24,441 of them—but this one triggered both my Little-Boy-delight and The-Past-Is-Now buttons.

The email was from Diane Kopp, a girl I worked with at Security Mutual Insurance Company…the second job I ever held after leaving college. Diane and I hit it off right away. She was charming and funny, and we became good friends. On a couple of occasions she joined Norm and me and some other friends on weekend trips to my parents’ cottage in Wisconsin. But as our friendship grew, I became concerned—probably wrongly—that I might be conveying the wrong signals to her, and so one day I told her that Norm and I were more than just friends. She was the first straight person to whom I admitted being gay…and I was 26 years old! (To reread that last sentence and see the word “admitted,” as though I was confessing to being an axe murderer or child molester, gives you an idea of the times in which gays and lesbians then lived.)

Diane took it all in stride, and we remained friends after I left Security Mutual, but when I moved to Los Angeles in 1966, we lost touch. I thought of her frequently throughout the years, wondering what had happened to her, whether she’d married and had a family. But there was no way I could get in touch with her...until, 50 years later, I got her message. And once again, the fraying ties to my past were reinforced.

I wrote her immediately, and hope we may pick up our friendship where it left off so many years ago.

We each have special people in our lives; people who hold a unique place in our minds and hearts even though we can’t pinpoint exactly why. Diane is one of those people, and I find it hard to describe how happy I am to have heard from her. I have been, in fact, extremely lucky to have had two other such reestablishments of friendship in the past six months or so. Ted Bacino—with whom I was in Cub Scouts at St. Elizabeth’s Social Center in Rockford, Illinois, and with whom I continued being friends throughout grade school, high school, and my first two years of college before I left for the NavCads—and Effie Foulis, another founding member of my college “gang.”

To reconnect with friends from long ago is, to me, indescribably comforting. It is a safety line in the increasingly blinding and frigid blizzard of years. And by clinging firmly to that rope, I can look back through the blur of years to see, however dimly, light from the windows of a world long gone, and feel the warmth it represents.

Each reconnection with someone from my past sets off a falling-domino-like cascade of long forgotten memories. People, places, things, visual images, smells, and a myriad of tiny details spring to life. Being reminded of shared memories through the other person’s eyes also sharpens the focus. (I mentioned that Diane and I had worked together at an insurance company. It was in the Loop, but for the life of me I couldn’t remember where. Diane’s note mentioned its being at Jackson and LaSalle. I still can’t picture the building, but you can be sure the next time I go to the loop, I will walk by Jackson and LaSalle and see if I can’t catch a glimpse of an oh, so much younger me going to work.)

I’m so grateful to Effie, and Ted, and Diane, and for their friendship over all these years. There are so many more old friends out there, waiting to be found.

It is the totally unexpected pleasant surprises, the serendipitous little pleasures and simple delights, which remind us what a precious gift we have in being alive.
This blog is from Dorien's ebook of blogs, Short Circuits, available from and; it's also available as an audio book from Amazon/ You can find information about Dorien's books at his web site: 

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