I loved re-reading your "Journey to Dubuque" just now. I think as roommates we talked about our stories enough that I knew much of it, but I liked reading from the perspective of looking back after 50 years of growth and life.
As dissimilar as our lives may have seemed as we came to Dubuque, we had similar stories. I was surrounded by wealth and privilege but perhaps because my father began his career as a retail salesman and gradually became more successful, and had eight kids, we always, from my perspective, were many steps behind the Joneses. Not that we were lacking in material things, just that our expectation (and entitlement) was so much less than those around us… just like you.
But more to the point, I think the love that each of us found in our homes and the openness that somehow was taught to us or bred in us, made us brothers in spirit even before we got to know each other. I think it was 1965 when we became friends.
At the time, I was so dumb or sheltered I had no idea how big a deal it was for us to decide to be roommates. I had of course witnessed prejudice all my life but my family always gave me to believe that it was ignorant and shameful. New Canaan was an enlightened community where race was never even mentioned, except to disparage Southerners in the news for being racist. It was just, I supposed, coincidence that I never had more than 1 or 2 black classmates throughout K-12. Later, I had gone through the agony of trying to integrate our fraternity but I guess I chose to believe that it was the 1 nay vote system that was my undoing. I mean even many a 100 proof WASP, Biff or Chip had trouble not getting at least 1 secret nay out of 26.
Maybe it was that experience that spurred me to try and talk you into taking a chance on me. But I honestly think it was just that I felt that you were a kindred spirit. And wasn’t that ditsy, flighty, 19 year old me, right about that one thing?
You made my last 3 years at Dubuque better and broader and more fulfilling. I learned more from you in subtle ways, than Soc, Psyc and 20 other courses rolled into one. You were a kind and patient friend who forgave me my naiveté about the larger world and took me into your circle. And we always had fun.
As I’ve grown and matured, I realize that you are and have always been the type of guy that many people feel is a kindred spirit. Your easy-going, fun-loving, goodness is magnetic. I believe it makes those around you a little better. Even me.
Much love old dear friend, Rooms