Sunday, July 9

Dear Jim,

It’s a hot morning in Sacramento. I just got through studying Spanish for two hours at a picnic table in the park. Now I’m in the sun on a bench.

It will probably get too hot, or I will have to go to the bathroom, so I’ll finish this letter at home.

One of the horrible things about Sacto is there is nowhere to pee. The City of Trees, but no toilets. I wonder what the homeless guys do and how much pain they have.

It’s convenient for the people who live around the park that there are no bath rooms in it. That means fewer cars on the street and fewer people in the neighborhood. Property values stay high. Their dogs piss on the lawn so I smell it when I lie down, but they are happy as hell that people like me who love and need the park cannot stay very long.

I need to be outside. I lust to be outside. You did too. Remember all our bicycling and walking? Especially you on your bike. You were in great shape and so passionate and obsessed. I was a tenacious rider, but I never had a goal like you did.

I haven’t ridden in at least 25 years. Even if bicycles were cheap, I wouldn’t buy one. I’d be worried about falling off because my reflexes aren’t what they used to be. I’d also be worried about getting the bike stolen. There was so much stealing when I was in high school that I’ve become jaded. Besides, nowadays, if you beat the shit out of someone stealing your bike, you’ll get arrested for assault.

You went to high school at a good time. America was still great. I went to high school at a bad time. I tell people that my high school class was the first class to receive a lousy education all the way through.

I still can’t believe the stealing. It makes sense, low academic standards and lots of stealing. Not to mention the drugs and drinking. Even though guys your age received a good high school education, the hippies did everything they could to lower the standards for everything.

One time at work a guy 15 years younger than I am asked about my catholic education. I started to get mad. I told him, “We hardly ever went to Mass. We didn’t read The Bible. We didn’t study the history of the Church. A history of the popes would have been great. They should have been proud of our tradition, but they rejected it.” He didn’t agree with me, but he kept his mouth shut.

Remember that wonderful woman I dated in the 80’s? We’re still in touch, not a lot though.

She was raised Catholic too. I was complaining to her about the betrayal of the Catholic tradition by the schools in the 70’s. I told her Christ, they didn’t have us read anything about the Church, but as freshmen we read the famous book about religions by Huston Smith. She said, “Well, they were trying to be politically correct.” They sure were.

The brother who taught the class was old. He had a grandfatherly way about him. Too bad he didn’t teach The New Testament. He could have told us the importance of combining love with defiance, and the importance of being willing to pay the price for you convictions like Jesus did and the apostles did after him. But no – “Buddha man.”

There was another brother, a guy your age, who knew European art and history like the back of his hand. I don’t know what he was doing at our school.

He didn’t have a way with us like the older brother did. We laughed at him. We did not give a shit. But he was brilliant. I regret that he could not relate to kids and that I wasn’t blessed with what he had to offer.

I have thought of looking him up, of telling him I am thankful for what he had to offer, and how sorry I am for myself and for him that I wasn’t interested in his great knowledge and passion.

That’s it for now Jim.

One of the great things about you is you loved the classics and tried to help me when I asked questions. You always encouraged me to keep reading and keep struggling.



Copyright © 2021 by David Vaszko