Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Visiting Zinc

I started to go back out to Cape Cod, but changed my mind and called Zinc. Found his house with only a slight mis-step stop at a neighbor's. We drove around most of the day, getting the local tour and down to the south coast of the Cape, with a view of Martha's Vinyard. He has a small boat, summer use only, and has an intimate knowledge of the coast and waters. The general area is the original Plymouth colony, and since I had just read the King Philip's War book, a lot of the place names and persons he mentioned were fresh. Also got a sense of the commerce and geology.

I had lost Zinc for thirty years or more, and then he found my email associated with some web site about Ivory-bills. The mail he sent me caught up with me in Silver City, NM the previous summer. We called etc and I made up my mind to visit as soon as I was in his area. He had been my best friend in college during the absolute heart of the sixties revolution, as well as a major influence on the course of my life. He dropped out in his senior year to work as a designer in a furniture factory, where he got to indulge his passion for tools and making stuff. And I bailed from grad school three years later when I was fed up with too much talk, and work that just produced paper that was instantly ignored. Being free of the draft helped too. Not to mention having my fill of exploitive academics. I suppose some substance experimentation made a difference too. I had already started buying tools. Eventually I made a sort of career as a craftsman-builder. Thanks Zinc.

September 8, Tuesday

And we birded, he had some favorite places we checked out, as well as beach walking and shorebirds. Cute scene of Least Sandpipers huddling in the sea wrack, instant nests, and they seemed very easy with us. I also bought a small digital camera to use for emergency digiscoping, since of course I hadn't had one for the Sharp-tailed. Nice little lacy sandwich place for lunch, pizza for dinner at home with his wife Eileen who's been a professor at Boston area schools since she graduated from Harvard. Zinc is a Master Union Carpenter, and an instructor for the new guys. Quite proud of the many big projects he's worked on, and also a collector of antique hand saws. They weren't as entrancing for me as for him, but I liked the passion they stirred in him. I finished the evening with reading the last of the "Return of the King", which had been my bedtime book for most of the trip.

The visit wasn't all I'd hoped for even though it was more than I expected. Nearly forty years out of contact is a lot of time for personal evolution, not parallel, and we had grown some apart even before losing contact. He had moved to Boston, had a business, married, Eileen was still in grad school. I had fallen deep into the counter-culture during and after my grad school. He was not well the day I was there, but had marched along doing his duty as a host. I missed his old fire and humor and irreverence. I'd certainly lost some of those too, age had sapped some energy, reality had made all the humor very dark, but irreverence had grown colossal, minus a little more consideration for the difficulties of good-willed individuals. He was practice for that. I couldn't imagine getting up every day and heading off to hard dangerous physical work in all weather. He was some worn. And married all those years, which I had no way of understanding, mister lifetime non-gay bachelor here.

We sent a couple of desultory emails after I got home, but I've let it lapse. I want to try again, hope he's feeling better, hope we can talk closer to the bone, hope that some time to mull over the first visit will pay off. I've lost a lot of close male friends, mentors, dear relatives (including my mom) over the last few years, and the ones who are left are potential treasures and allies on this slog to the finish line.


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