L. Neil Smith's
Number 298, November 21, 2004

Give people what they want: more government!

Memory Lane
(a disgustingly maudlin and sentimental entry in...)
The Kaptain's Log
by Manuel Miles

Exclusive to TLE

Today being one of the warmest mid-November days I can remember (and I have lived in this province, off and on, man and boy, for nigh unto 36 years), I went for a long walk. My perambulations took me through the quaint olde part of towne which we call "Old Strathcona" here in Chuk City. You likely have a similar district if you live in a city of over half a million; it's the artsy-fartsy quarter wherein one finds all the coffee shops, ersatz Irish pubs, "consignment clothing boutiques", year-round Christmas shops, drug paraphernalia stores, used book emporia, et cetera. The place has "character" and, even though its character is predominantly lefty and socialist, I like it in small doses.

One reason that I like it is that the predominant architecture of the place has been preserved, for the most part, even though the old post office is now a spaghetti joint, the art deco bank buildings are now boutiques, the original fire hall is now a theatre, and the old armoury is one of those young folks' night clubs where you go if you want to see a bikini contest and/or get into a knife fight. I can still see the places which I frequented in my youth; places which cause me to recall people and events from my days of Hope, Dreams, and Illusions.

I meandered into a shop and there I met a salesgirl whom I had not seen since 1971. To my surprise, she had become a middle-aged woman in the interim. We were good friends back when, but our paths diverged a long time ago. Still, it was fun to remember how we were when we had more energy than brains, and her coworker, a girl who is now the same age as "Emmy-Lou" was then, was fascinated to hear the stories. Emmy-Lou was a dancer, and a really gifted one; she lived to dance like no one I have ever known, and none of us in our little gang of hippies could have stopped her feet from jiving and doing pirouettes even if we had wanted to. I literally never saw her walk anywhere; she danced down the street; we didn't even think it strange. One day she even danced up onto the hood of her boyfriend's car, across the roof and down the trunk, alighting with her trademark giggle—and she never even made a dent in the little vehicle. And me, I was even sillier; just take my word for it, I ain't tellin' you none of the stories. Anyway, we had fun, and we delighted in the most simple things, especially in one another's company. Most young people are that way, I hope, and it delights me to see a group of 16-to-26 year olds walking along, talking and laughing together.

My extended stroll became a walking tour through my youth. I believe that people need such excursions, especially when, like me, they are one week away from their 56th birthday. The old sights remind me both that the years have flown and, that through all the changes of the better part of four decades, some things have remained the same.

Me, for instance; if I haven't exactly stayed the same, in many ways I have at least come full circle. Of course, if I could do things over again, I wouldn't make most of the mistakes I made then (I'd just make different ones), but I realise that I still want the same basic things from life: peace and love in liberty.

I'd listen to much of the same music again, especially songs like "Both Sides Now" and "God Is Alive" and "Who Knows Where The Time Goes", but Jim Morrison and some of the other nut cases I would pass by. I'd still grow my hair over my shoulder blades, because I had the thickest, waviest head of blond hair that you ever saw. Your hair doesn't stay young forever any more than your face does, and the chicks loved my Viking tresses. [And with a face like mine, you need an edge, believe me.] I'd dress differently, but just as eccentrically; I still dress as I damned well please, and not as pleases the lame, dimwitted "you've got to go along to get along" broad masses of urban sheep. I'd become a Christian and a Libertarian by a much less circuitous route, and in a heck of a lot less time.

Mostly, however, I'd try to be a far better friend to the people who were important to me then. Even though we drift apart over the years, and philosophical and ideological differences arise, grow, and divide us, the friends of our youth are always a priceless treasure. For one thing, they cause us to remember that we were young once; for another, they shared the experiences of the most intensely lived years of our lives. Some of them I don't even want to see today, but I wish that, once again, I could see all of them as they were then. If I could, I'd tell them how important they were to me and how much I enjoyed their companionship and concern for me and their laughter and their love.

Although we've all become different than we were then, the changes resulted from following the paths that we chose back then, so somewhere inside us, there must still be the funny, intense, laughter-loving kids who had their whole lives ahead of them. To all those kids in all my old friends, the dead as well as those still living, I send my thanks, my love, and my prayer for your happiness. And I wish you all God's blessings, especially His love and...

...Peace and Liberty.


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