What a climb it was, and what a dream!
You and your twin brother, quite the team —
Straight A students both, and great at sports,
Math and science, engines and the arts.
You’d jet-ski with your friends and catch the sun.
All bronzed and fit you were, and everyone
Admired your cute girlfried, your true dear
Who flew from California to be near
By you. She got enrolled at Chapel Hill —
Not far away. It seemed you would fulfill
Your father’s hopes when you found a great post:
Bell Northern Research, running CAD tools most
Young undergrads like us had never seen,
And I know from what I saw on your screen
Your work there helped the rest of us connect.
The times we had back then, I recollect,
Were innocent, naïve. Who would’ve thought
Of all the changes passing time has wrought?
What a fall it was, but what was lost?
Wondering if your goals were worth the cost
Of pulling those all-nighters, popping pills
To keep awake. Whose goals were those? Whose wills?
Your father’s? Or your girlfriend’s? Well, not mine,
For I just loved to tinker; I was fine
Without the fancy job or jet-ski. Lone,
I occupied myself for fun. You’d groan
From pressure keeping up those grades: “What for?”
You asked me, but I still can’t say what for,
And certainly could not have then, it’s true.
You got your first B. Then it was all through
When drunk on Night Train, every night you’d find
No potion that would lend you peace of mind:
Though playing your guitar with half a heart
Still didn’t get you far, it was a start
Toward finding your direction. In the end
Your instrument can be your only friend.
You may have picked up all these things from me.
If so, should I apologize? I’d be
Delighted if you’d loved the work that earned
The “good” life, but your honesty returned.
What a life you lead: now that it’s yours.
The army promised you’d learn Japanese
But we all knew they’d send you off on tours
Of duty in Iraq. You’re more at ease
Delivering hot pizzas like you did
For extra cash back on the college bench.
Our lives become much simpler once we rid
Ourselves of dreams that others would entrench
Within us. Do you still have my first piece
Of decent furniture: that table doweled
Together I left to you? Come increase
Your skillset. Pay a visit. I’ve uncoweled
Lots more woodworking concepts since those days.
Some people wish for custom hardwood work
Completed in the clean, non-toxic ways
That I could teach you, if you’d like the perk
Of woodcrafting as part of your career.
Since your dreams sure aren’t mine, I won’t presume
To do more than suggest ideas, sincere
As ever — though you can’t climb on the roof
To wake me, then expect I’ll be aloof.