I kept a diary in 1976. It was burgundy-colored and had that useless little lock on it. I'd probably stolen it from the local five-and-dime as I can't recall ever having so much money for so great a luxury.
That year was my sixteenth, a high school junior, bicentennially uninclined.
I was all about smoking, cigarettes and pot, playing hard rock records, reading but not wholly understanding Creem magazine, and being terrified but awestruck by girls just out of my reach. Farrah's posters wallpapered over my headboard, and naked girl magazine gatefolds and cutout photos took up the remaining spaces.
My parents had been divorced for less than three years. Myself, my two brothers-I was the middle child-and my mother lived in a townhouse apartment in the smallish county seat of Danville, just down the street from the new high school.
My best smoking buddy, Jay, lived with his mother just a matter of cutting through a few unfenced yards away.
In school, I was mortifyingly shy with an inner tenderness that just wouldn't balance with my outward tendencies. I never, therefore, got into trouble nor did I ever try. The popular guys in school drove souped-up Novas and Chevelles and had career girlfriends, while we walked to school, sometimes with friends that were girls.
I recorded many things in the diary that are lost to me now, those ever-timely important ruminations that vaporize after a few turns of the monthly calender. However, I do remember recording the increase of Spring weather-I've always loved Spring-and the frustrating but wonderful attempts at securing the affections of a girl in my class named Dawn the previous Winter.
During one particular late Winter ice storm, with school closed and tree limbs shattering to the ground seemingly of their own volition, I was over at Jay's house with a pint of cherry vodka, sitting on his mother's couch, with his mother's afghan covering the legs of myself and herself, Dawn. This would be the acme of my relationship with the brown-haired beauty of my then-current dreams and I imagine I covered it thoroughly for days afterward in my little burgundy diary.
An entry I strangely recall today is from one Winter early afternoon in which I espoused what I felt as I walked alone from school to home, some time before lunch.
It was scathingly cold though ablaze in pristine sunshine that day. The air was as still as a resurrection tomb that arrived with acridity and departed with great plumes of cumulus breath quickened by a blend of cigarette smoke as I walked the hard white and blinding road home.
I began to focus on the house to my left, where the smells of burning firewood had me notice the resultant smoke rising erractically from the bricked chimney stack.
I instantly felt warm and happy and elated and pure. I was wrapped in an ethereal blanket, curled by that fire, and deeply moved by the apparent promises of the hearth of the home as I passed by.
I arrived at the empty townhouse naturally high and after a short while settled contentedly into a chair to read, in paradise by the outdoors light. The book was The Shining, and every time the furnace clicked on, I started a little.
Every evening, starting about a month ago, I've made it a point of requirement to read.
After the grandbaby has fallen silent in angelic sleep, after my wife has done likewise, I turn off the adamantly opposing television, and I sit contentedly in my chair and read.
We have a hearth, and we have a home.
The book I read is one by Charles Spurgeon or Watchman Nee or Andrew Murray or Martyn Lloyd-Jones, one in paradise by the Eternal Light.
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