I forget the specific circumstances, but Carolyn once emphatically chastised me for not having any interests. I actually don't in the conventional sense of DIY, woodworking, fixing up cars, feeding the poor or anything to do with yard work.
“Bullshit!" she explained. “You have a lot of interests!” I was sufficiently cowed not to seek further details, but I do have to admit she was never bored with her life with me. She had traveled the world her whole life as a Delta flight attendant, counting Russia, China and Japan as some of her most exotic locations. Evidently, my travel interests came to intrigue hers. I know eventually Carolyn was deferring to most of my itineraries for our travels, so I suppose I was building sufficient interest and adventures wherever we went together. We did get to Cuba, which she enjoyed, and was looking forward to a month in Tuscany with me before her time, and ours, ran out.
Mike offered, in Carol’s own words, “passion and adventure,” when she married him after a whirlwind courtship that had even caught the guy she was still dating back in the states off guard. They lived in Morocco, bought a camper and traveled the U.S. peddling Moroccan leather goods and silver jewelry that he kept stored in the bathroom of the camper. Mike was an accomplished pianist with a classically trained voice, theater owner, entrepreneur, law student and private investigator. In the latter role, he once helped a family whose daughter had been viciously attacked by a mountain lion in a wilderness park win a million dollar negligence suit against the park's officials. Along the way, Mike and Carol raised two daughters (one of whom is an Emmy-winning television newsmagazine producer) and four grandchildren, before his time tragically ran out on a narrow Orange County highway.
Carol and I are together now, both because Carolyn and Mike are no longer with us, and because we are the products of our lives lived with those two departed souls. We are imbued with their lives. It's as if you could say, had neither Mike nor Carolyn ever lived, Carol and I would most certainly not have found each other. This is why our memories of them remain vivid and real, and why we continue to enjoy sharing those memories with each other. Life goes on, because it connects and continues. France and Europe are in our immediate travel plans and camper trips across the U.S. are on the planning horizon.
While Carol exhibits the gentleness of spirit, resilience and positivity that defined Carolyn, there is a quick, ginzo-sharp wit with Carol that is already keeping me on my toes, if not outright backpedaling. (We love to laugh, particularly I've noticed when it's at my expense.) My avoidance of sand and sushi match Mike's, while some of my impulses are taking Mike's mercurial temperament to new levels of adventure and uncertainty. (In a little more than three months, Carol and I have moved from cautious correspondents to full-fledged traveling companions with a pair of eurail passes we'll be activating in September. Oh, and we just bought a home together in Orange County.)
Yes, friends say it's all happening much too quickly, but yet not unlike what happened to bring us both together in the first place. We have no plans to slow down anytime soon.