Nothing like digging through your past and throwing most of it away to help you get a fresh perspective on life and yourself, not to mention your relationships with others. I found dozens of letters written to a sibling, for instance, who to this day hardly responds at all. (Yes, I’m a writer with access to a copier, so I kept copies of my letters to people in case it took them weeks to reply and I couldn’t remember what I wrote them.)
And oh the written chatter I kept spewing back then — I’m talking the 1980s in Phoenix — keeping the Midwestern contacts alive as I raised a young son mostly by myself, lots of time to write, both at home at the super-priviledged ad agency where I was prince of that little puddle, flying to LA for the day to work with household names from TV — I once had half the cast of character actors from M*A*S*H and Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In (Artie Johnson is a dear) doing a radio spot for hot dogs at a convenience store (they were a lost platoon of German soldiers — you had to be there).
But that’s not me. None of this stuff I’m tossing as I move is. It’s all just versions of me because I wasn’t in touch with things then like I am now. I didn’t have the love of God and Jane, I hadn’t looked at myself with the insight and forgiveness of grace and mercy, I really hadn’t done any work at all in trying to be a good human being who cared about his brothers and sisters. “They don’t care about me so the hell with them” was the prevailing attitude, most likely. “It’s a tough race and the Devil take the hindmost!”
I don’t need much to practice my profession: a notebook, a shoulder bag, one of these new portable computers, some identification and credit cards, a camera, travel Scrabble, and I could be anywhere, writing about anything, Dearest at my side. That’s the future, and the Devil is welcome to the dry bones and wrinkled pages of the past.