Just about 24 years ago this week, Guido and I packed up our two separate households — my bachelor apartment in the suburbs, her South Philly row house — stuffed what fit into U-Haul’s largest truck, and headed toward our new home in south Florida. Surely a leap of faith: no jobs, few contacts, no money. We hadn’t even lived together yet. My cat barely knew any cats, let alone her monsters.
Ironically, we departed Philadelphia in a hurricane. Packing the truck was a Bill Mauldin-like slog through rain, cold, wind, and mud. I had over 100 boxes of heavy books, literally thousands of volumes, and about 150 house plants (yeah, I know. NOW I know). We had furniture, two kitchens, and the accumulated detritus of two separate lives that never ever made a paradigm shift like the one we braved that day.
And damn! It worked out. So far.
Back then I was a prolific letter writer, hammering out final drafts in one take on an IBM Executive typewriter — proportional font, no auto-correct — which had to be copied at a quick-print store (which is where I met Guido: she managed a staff of busty dykes who referred to her as the “Wicked Red Witch” and much worse), folded carefully, stuffed in an envelope, stamped, and mailed. Al Gore hadn’t invented teh interwebs yet. Within a year I bought my first computer — an AT (286) powered by DOS — and went on to become a world-class expert in WordPerfect. Another useless skill.
So once we settled in and set up my typewriter I assembled a long letter on my obsolete letterhead to everybody we’d left behind who wanted to know how matters stood. A few months ago, one of these folks (I’m still in touch with about 2/3 of them) came across a copy of that letter under his BetaMax tapes in his attic. He scanned it and sent it to me. It follows, a still-frame of time caught by fresh observers, astonished at the newness of what years later is commonplace. Bad Florida drivers. Bugs. Rednecks. Guido was “Diane” back then. Who knew?
Yes, I sort of out myself, but at this stage I think it matters not much at all.