Running through my mind is that line from the scalawag poet Francoise Villon: “Oh, where are the snows of yesteryear!”; Villon makes it uncomfortably clear that no matter how alluring and engaging at their first embrace, the old things no longer exist save in the toils and recoils of memory. Perhaps the lines of John Keats are appropriate following on that list of famous women who lived, were often tragically disposed, and now entirely vanished: “La belle dame sans merci hath thee in thrall”. Upon what may be the brink of moving from my choice location at this lovely beach and bay-side to another residence seems to bring all those pleasanter times in this old place close around me.
I know I will miss the sight of the many little boats gliding leisurely by--a mere stone’s throw from where I am wont to sit beside the bay-shore, and the bright flashes of billowing sails out on the blue-green ocean so very near to the south side of my present home. There are other allurements to be left behind , but most difficult of all is probably leaving forever that part of my life in which I was more active and mobile; sadder still is the knowledge that I can no longer walk out to the water’s edge and take full advantage of a neighborhood that I realize I now inhabit unjustly. Others, younger and stronger, deserve to live here.
The place where I may be going to live is, in some respects, a step backward rather than forward. It is inhabited by older people closer to my age who will surround me whenever I dare leave my own apartment, rather than the company of these younger, more athletic, and shapelier folks--though I probably need to become more sociable with my own group anyway. Having already had a quick visit to the prospective new quarters I am left with a vision straight out of a Noel Coward drawing-room farce, which actually pleases me a lot. From its large southern facing windows I could see the town stretched out below, all the way to the blue shore-line, and I am informed that on the proverbial clear day one can see Catalina Island. Though I already see that island from my present living room closer to the water’s edge, along with the Queen Mary and hordes of sea-birds, it is very reassuring to know there will be familiar sights even at some distant. My fantasy includes a vision of clusters of city lights glowing brightly below my windows as darkness begins descending all over the town, much like those movie scenes filmed from the Hollywood hills, and in my imagination I entertain guests at candle-lit suppers here in this urban setting. Since I have never done so before the whole prospect improves my outlook about moving—I may become an entirely different person with heretofore unseen talents for the high-life.
That term is particularly fitting since I will hopefully be on the eighth floor or higher, (though I may rue the choice when riding the elevator daily in the company of so many walkers and canes). On the other hand, however, much of the business of daily living will presumably be taken over by the staff people who will cook, clean and drive where my inclination leads—at least that is what is told to me by the management—and every Friday there is held what is called a “Happy Hour” where one is, I gather, expected to become happy. I will also, I vow, walk daily over the nice grounds and pathways—and upon the treadmill on the fourteenth floor--in order to maintain strength and health.
But back to the snows of yesteryear; after some serious thought it has come to me that past times are always lost and gone, it is the present and future that we live within, and change is after all the order of the day. It comes to me, in fact, that nothing of times past endures as a tangible part of ongoing reality. In that respect attempts to cling to them are quite futile, and I do feel ready for newness and changes--is it not written (I CO 7:31) “The world in its present form is passing away”. I always like to refer to Scripture when I write and my son Pastor Doug pointed out Haggai 2:9 for me, wherein the people were lamenting the loss of their former temple: “The glory of the present house will be greater than the glory of the former house’, says the Lord almighty. ‘And in this place I will grant peace’, declares the Lord almighty”. May it also be thus here in Long Beach—thank you Lord and Amen.