The Path We Take

I heard Henry whine-harumph.  I did not open my eyes.  I could sense, from the warm breath on my face, that he was likely an inch from me.  He was awake, having heard my early-waking father upstairs making coffee.  With my eyes still closed, I asked Henry if I could get 15 more minutes of sleep; he wanted nothing to do with that desire.  He licked my face.

Henry, my five-year-old basset, and I had traveled up to Hibbing the day before.  I had waffled on the heading north for a while.  Melissa was heading the opposite direction with a load of puppies and plans to work with her horse, Victor.  In the ended, Melissa said she could take, in addition to puppies, the other dogs with her to the kennel; Henry and I could venture north for a long weekend.

I rolled off the couch, put on pants and socks, walked up stairs.  Henry happily followed.  Even though there is a guest room at my parent’s, I have always have chosen to sleep in the basement on the couch.  Henry takes a chair that once resided in grandparent’s house.  The guest room in my parent’s house is actually the room that my sister and I once shared when we were in the low-to-mid-single-digits of age.  Later, the room would become just my sister’s.   Since that time, has been remodeled.  New wall-covering, new hardwood flooring; it’s a different room from the room my sister claimed as hers in the early-to-mid-90s.  Henry is a wanderer and harumpher.  Any detectable motion on the part of the parents, and I feel Henry would want to investigate.  It works best if Henry and I just stay elsewhere in the house.

Coffee and toast was had while my mother discussed with me a recent study she had read that involved the efficacy of placebos.  I brought up a question that had been rolling around in my head that involved charter schools and success of public education systems.  An email arrived, it was from my good friend Pete.  In addition to sitting in on a hearing or two today, did I want to have lunch, too – maybe noon?  Yes, I did.  I needed to get going then; it would be at least an hour and half drive to Two Harbors, and it was 9:45am.

With a reassuring pat on Henry’s head that I would return later, I headed out for Two Harbors.

Periodically, I notice that people cycle back into my life.  Sometimes, the person runs parallel with me for years only to disappear and then reappear a couple years later, or reappear just for lunch once every six months.  Some, through happenstance, who have been absent thirty-years, come into contact, maybe via email or text message, only to have emails and text never returned.  Others, after a year or two, disappear all together.  Life sometimes has hard turns where you jettison individuals who were not hanging on tight enough.  I wrote about this idea a while ago.  The idea of hard inflection points in ones path that sends two friends in different directions.  The idea that individuals cycle back, even just for the briefest of moments, is phenomenon that sometimes bewilders me and sometimes amazes me.

I have known Pete for thirty years.  It was not until college, however, that we became great friends. Maybe we connected because of our hard times; I was coming off of having been ill and out of school for my entire senior year of school; Pete was mentally digesting a death of a parent.  In 2003, Pete was best man in my wedding, and eleven years later, I returned the favor by being best man in his wedding.  Throughout grade school and high school, Pete and I were always in the same mathematics and science focused courses and after school programs.  I remember making an text-based animation of a race car hitting a wall – all in BASIC on an Apple IIe – in an after-school science program.  After two years at the community college in Hibbing, I followed the woman I had been dating to Duluth; Pete stayed on at the community college one more year.  We drifted apart for a few years.
IMG_2810The road to Two Harbors is almost mind-numbingly straight.  There are a couple turns or twists, but from a turn around the Makinen area up to Bassett Lake, the road is without a curve.  There are a few turns and bends around Bassett Lake, a final ninety-degree right turn south, and then more straight road into Two Harbors.  Even on an overcast day with a bit of moisture in the air, Lake Superior can been seen in the distance as you drive south, descending in elevation as you approach the town and lake.

The woman that I followed to Duluth had already been at the university in Duluth for a year.  In the overlap time of my attendance at the community college and her living in Duluth and attending university there, too, I had made traveling to Duluth for weekends a routine.  From time to time, the weekend visits would involve meeting other university friends of hers.  One such friend was Belissa.

I arrived at the courthouse in Two Harbors.  I had visited Pete and his place of work one other time, a number of years but the potential location of his office was not coming back to me.  The courthouse, however, has one courtroom.  The placard on the main entrance to the courtroom said, “Quiet, In Session”; Pete was in court at the moment.  I took a seat outside the courtroom.

Several months after I moved to Duluth, the relationship with the woman whom I had followed ended.  Belissa would become a person I saw now and again in the hallways at the university.  Pete was off in North Dakota causing mischief under the guise of “going to school.”  Everyone’s paths diverged.

The hearing Pete was reporting for ended, and the courtroom opened up.  I slipped into the back of the gallery and took a seat.  The next hearing started.  A mea culpa from the public defenders office for dropping the ball on the matter at the hand, a testy prosecution because of the dropped ball, a tentative rescheduling of the matter by the judge, and the hearing was over.  A short time later, Pete and I were heading to place a bit up the shore for lunch.

Visiting with Pete and sitting in on hearings in a rural courthouse was the plan for the day.  The evening, however, would involve attending a wedding reception.  Adam and Belissa’s wedding reception.

This is the strange sort of cycling back that I refer to.  I have known Adam since shortly after meeting Melissa.  He and I formed a software consulting business in the mid-2000s.  I knew him before he had kids with his to-be first wife.  Somehow, two individuals from two different areas of my past met, and are forging forward with a new path – together.

I left the reception after a couple hours.  I was exhausted, but still had the hour and half drive back to Hibbing.