I have this habit of looking for symbols and meaning in everyday things. It's a game I play, sometimes with license plates. I'll see if the letters mean anything to me, like my mom's initials, or if the numbers represent an anniversary of some sort.
A few weeks ago I decided to examine the quarters in my pocket. I had two. Here they are:
1965 and 1994
An interesting pairing of years. More interesting is that I took notice at all, given that I make daily runs to Dunkin Donuts. When not swiping my debit card I typically end up with a lot of coins weighing me down.
What's so curious about the discovery? 1965 is my birth year. I recall times throughout my life where I've encountered a 1965 coin and thought, "this is 10 years old," or "this is 17 years old" and even the novel "wow, a 30 year old quarter!"
Then there's 1994, the year I met Joey. The same year that another relationship that should have ended two years prior was finally over, a clearing for many new experiences. It was the last year I had quality time with my mentor Larry, where he was coaching me and providing unparalleled opportunities for personal growth. It was a pivotal time, that's for sure.
As I slipped the change back into my pocket, installments of my life began to unspool in the projection room of my mind. Glimpses of my parents at my age and younger. Successive moments of back to school days and Wizard of Oz airings on TV, dance classes, theater productions, talking on the phone for hours. Going to the movies with my mom, sister and Kate (my childhood BFF). Christmases and birthdays and records and driving lessons. Friends. The night I met Joey and the relationship that played out over the next eight years. A confluence of events and emotions that all seem so appropriately staged as my 50th birthday looms on the horizon.
I have loved these days. The 49 years that now deposit me on the doorstep of my 5th decade. Oh sure, some of these years were difficult. I think 1976 in to 1977 was tough. Sixth grade, a bad haircut and getting a locker for the first time. 1979 when I entered high school, that was a rough go for awhile. And then 1983, first year at Hood. Notice a pattern here? Endings and beginnings. I used to have difficulties with the transitions.
It's fair to say now that the most difficult transition I've survived to date is the loss of Joey. I can't help but wonder what he'd say to me, near the eve of this big birthday--about my achievements and my evolutions. I don't think any of it would be a surprise to him, no. But, I'll always miss the diverse perspective he provided. I find myself in the initial moments of awake time, trying to access a message from the previous night's dream. In the stillness of the morning I've hoped it would be his voice in my head that would break the silence.
I've had a select few messages that have surfaced through the dream state. I'm sure there's more to harvest, and maybe this decade will bring me to the place where I am able to be patient and hear. It's not that I believe he's going to foretell the future. I just miss his unique view on the ridiculous and the sublime.
And that's how the simple, everyday thing of looking at two quarters transported me across the the years of my life--fifty cents for fifty years. What a great gift.