THE AUTUMN OF THE YEAR

But Now The Days Are Short, Rich Paschall

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When I was seventeen, it was a very good year…

When I turned seventeen, I had finished my Junior year in high school and was looking forward to Senior year at a new school.  It was a bit scary, I admit.  No one wants to leave his mates behind and start again, but that was my fate, not my choice.  At least the new school was in the neighborhood, and I already knew a few students who were going there.  Although we did not admit at the time, the final year of high school put many new thoughts into our heads.

You may think sex or sexual orientation, but those thoughts had already arrived years earlier.  All the passing of a few years meant was that these thoughts and curiosities intensified.  As you might imagine, a few of the boys and girls were a little more advanced than the others.  I think that stands out to you a little more at seventeen.

The new school brought new friends, new interests and new teachers.  There were subjects and activities the other school lacked.  The final high school year also proved to be, as I suspect it did for many of my friends, one of the best years of my life.  Some of those friends and those memories stayed with me over the decades.  I had no idea then that it would be the “best of times.”

When I was twenty-one, it was a very good year…

Four years later, brought a similar situation.  It was time to move on to Senior year of university and hopefully finish my degree on time (I didn’t).  It did not hold the lasting thrills of 17, but it did seem in a certain way to represent the transition to adulthood.  In reality I was no more adult than at 20 or twenty-two.  It was just a symbolic thing.  The “coming of age” also allows you to drink legally, but that did not mean too much. I was days, weeks or months older than the friends I hung around with so it is not like we all headed off to some bar.  Still, the year seemed to hold a certain energy that young adulthood will give you if you let it.

When I was thirty-five, it was a very good year…

I had finally earned my Masters Degree.  It was not about career advancement.  It was about reaching a goal I had set years earlier.  I sometimes studied for the Comprehensive exams with a woman in her 70’s.  She was pretty much doing the same thing, reaching for a past dream.  I could tell her of courses I had and of books I read, and she pushed me to study things I was certain would never be on the Masters exam again.  She was right about the exam questions and perhaps the reason we both marched up to receive our diplomas on the same day.

It felt like I had hit my stride at 35, although I can not really point to other reasons why.  If you have good friends, good times, and a reason for doing things, all seems right with the world.  Well, almost all seemed right.  I did not find the one right person to share my very good years.  Honestly, I can not say I looked all that hard.  I guess I was having too good of a time.

But now the days are short, I’m in the autumn of the year…

One thing that you become acutely aware of as you get older is that the days are short.  They don’t seem to last as long as the days of youth, you don’t seem to get as much done and you certainly don’t feel thirty-five.  You realize, no matter how desperately you try to suppress the thought, that the days are indeed numbered.  Even if you are optimistically believing that there are, let’s say, thirty-five years left, you know none will be like the year you were thirty-five.  With any luck at all some will still be very good years.

If your life is like a fine wine, there will be many years that are a good vintage.  Wine aficionados will refer to this as a “very good year.”  I hope to still have them.  None are 17 or 21 or 35, nor will they be again.  With any luck at all, however, I will be able to drink in the rest and enjoy them as if I were sitting in a vineyard in France with one of my best friends while we recall our great adventures together.

And I think of my life as vintage wine
From fine old kegs,
From the brim to the dregs,
It poured sweet and clear.
It was a very good year.

Although many had recorded this song, it won the Grammy Award for Best Vocal Performance, Male, in 1966 for Frank Sinatra.

It Was A Very Good Year, by Ervin Drake, 1961, lyrics © SONGWRITERS GUILD OF AMERICA OBO LINDABET MUSIC INC

24 thoughts on “THE AUTUMN OF THE YEAR

  1. Marilyn Armstrong October 15, 2017 / 12:16 am

    This was my first husband’s favorite song. But he never made it to the autumn of his years. He should have spent more time enjoying the time he had instead of mooning over the meaning of life.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Rich Paschall October 15, 2017 / 12:18 am

      It is always important to enjoy the very good years. It is never certain how many there will be.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Marilyn Armstrong October 15, 2017 / 12:21 am

        I swear he jinxed himself. He was always convinced he was old. He though he was old when he was 30. NO ONE could convince him otherwise.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Rich Paschall October 15, 2017 / 10:08 am

          Some people are young when the are 70. It is all a matter of perspective. When I hear people at work who are in their 20s talk about being old, I bite my tongue. I guess it is all downhill from 24.

          Liked by 1 person

      • Garry Armstrong October 15, 2017 / 1:06 pm

        Rich, what a beautifully written piece!!! I think it may your best work yet at this address. Damn!!

        Last night, Rich, Marilyn and I watched an old “Your Show of Shows” taped off one of those “oldies” channels. Probably late 40’s or early 50’s. Grainy black and white images of Sid Ceasar (?), Imogene Coca, Carl Reiner, Margaurite Piazza, Bill Hayes with Wendell Corey as host. What a rush of memories!! High School, College and beyond. A toast to you, Rich!

        Liked by 2 people

    • Garry Armstrong October 15, 2017 / 12:55 pm

      The “Old Ranger” was permanently melancholy. We made for a fine pair as we drank brandy into many early morning hours — “ruminating” on life. I miss him!

      Liked by 1 person

        • Garry Armstrong October 15, 2017 / 1:08 pm

          No, he didn’t have to die. I think he would’ve enjoyed these autumn years if he’d given himself a chance. Tosser!!

          Like

  2. swo8 October 15, 2017 / 3:58 pm

    My goodness things are becoming a little glum here. Rich, you encapsulated a life time – bitter sweet it is. But it’s the good times to remember.
    Leslie

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Rebel Girl October 15, 2017 / 4:26 pm

    That was a great read and so true. We are still “youngish” but our work requires quick and sometimes hard labor. Each year it gets a bit more difficult and our pace gets slower. I never thought that would happen so soon in life…or be this hard on the body! Still, we do our best to enjoy everyday we have.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Garry Armstrong October 17, 2017 / 12:26 pm

        Very true, Rich. When “The Old Ranger” and I were sipping brandy into all those wee small hours of the morning, we were in our early 20’s. He was three years older than me. We both smoked pipes as we drank the brandies and ruminated on the follies of life. We were wise beyond our years. Oy Vey!! (Do NOT play it again, Sam!)

        Liked by 1 person

          • Garry Armstrong October 18, 2017 / 12:33 pm

            Into the misty mid region, Rich. I fondly remember those wee small hours, pipe and brandy times with “The Old Ranger”. We really did make for an odd couple. He was both mentor and friend. And, while my Mom frowned on most of my friends, she’ll really liked Jeffrey. He could be a charmer.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Rich Paschall October 18, 2017 / 10:50 pm

              I knew such a person. He drifted off into the sunset, not sure where. Charming, but irresponsible in the end.

              Liked by 1 person

                  • Marilyn Armstrong October 19, 2017 / 10:27 pm

                    He was a great guy. Smart, witty, intelligent. He had a great job and a son who loved him and an admiring group of friends who adored him. He never saw anything positive in his life. Today, we’d dose him up on drugs and maybe that would pop him out of his permanent depression … but he was heading for the grave from the day I met him when I was 17. We all knew him. He was my husband, Garry and Tom’s best friend. He would be alive if he had made any effort to take care of himself.

                    Like

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