I’m happy to say that in June I’m going to a reunion of a very happy kind: I’ll be seeing my friends Keith and Bill in Gulfport, MS in a few weeks. It’s my last scheduled trip for a while but I am grateful for this trip, albeit to a place so ravaged by hurricane Rita and where both Bill and I were stationed during our respective military careers (Bill at Gulfport NAS and me at Keesler AFB). I have too many memories of the sex-trade businesses that operated near the main gates, the emaciated women who entered and left like wraiths, and the all-out racism that hung in the air like smoke. Actually, that’s one of the things I’m curious to measure—how much deeper, how much more foetid, and how many deltas (sic) have formed in the meantime.
Believe you me, I’ll be writing about it.
But, for a change, never mind. I mean to tell you about Keith and Bill. We’ve been friends since the nineteen-seventies; Keith and I were together when I first realized I wanted to write a collection of poems about strip bars that turned the whole idea of expectations on its head; he looked at me (and yes, the name of the place was the Stock Market—make of that what you will—), and said, “I bet you will.” Those words stayed with me for decades, until Lisa and I were leaving Toronto back when it was a vacation spot rather than home and I realized it was possible, and maybe time, to start actually working on that idea. Now it’s a manuscript, but most likely I wouldn’t have it if it weren’t for his approach. That one answer made all the difference. It’s true with Bill, too. I cannot tell you how many times we’ve confided in one another past any suddenly meaningless difference of opinion on suddenly meaningless matters outside of the point at hand.
That, folks, is friendship. Here’s how I measure wealth—I had a truly great love, and I have real friends. Keith and Bill and I go back longer than damn near anyone else for me, and I love the idea of seeing them again. Betcha they’ll be a couple of blog entries from Gulfport of such strange memory.