Spring Break 25 years ago.... am I really THAT old?!?!

It was April 1985 in a sleepy town in western New York. But my life was anything but dull.

Our charismatic English Bulldog, Pickles died on Good Friday. We had been at my Aunt's home in Ohio (she died in 2009), and drove the 250 miles on Easter Sunday afternoon back to E-town. My father - who isn't the best at bringing bad tidings - stated frankly as we walked up our driveway, "Pickles is Dead! But we have more important things to worry about." I know I was already 14 years old and had heard more than my share of bad news, but that was harsh!

Dad was alluding to my dying brother. D had been in Italy with his wife and was rushed home (arriving in E-town the following afternoon) - we thought possibly to die - from Siena. "Dr. Sidiqi saved his life," my father claims because he was able to control some calcium level or something. D stayed in the hospital in E-town that week, surviving the odds, and went on to continue with experimental therapies not available in my hometown, but readily available at UC Berkley (they lived in SF). The cancer that he evaded him in April 1985, got him in December of the same year, but this trip in April 1985 was the last time I saw him.

Despite the loss of my first pet and the desperate illness of my brother, there were some happy moments that week. D had the nicest hospital room I'd ever seen. It was big - roomy, even - and was a corner room with big windows on two sides overlooking a park-like setting of newly green trees, grass and park benches. D's condition improved every day. When he was finally able to, the only thing D wanted to eat was a pizza. "I can't eat this shit!" he told my doting mom, trying to push some hospital slop. The manager at Moretti's recognized me. All he asked was "Pizza for Dino?" It was on the house. I guess that's how things go in Small Towns. D barely finished a slice, but it gave us hope that he was on the mends.

Later that week - maybe even later that night - I slept over at BFF MC's. We walked all the way to EM's house - maybe a couple of miles away - where we went to a senior's "party" (more like a few boys drinking and watching a movie sans parents). We were impressionable freshmen. I walked into the livingroom where they were sitting on his chocolate brown sofa, watching The Wall. Liking the music, but freaked out by the violent movie - I think it was during the scene where he shaved his eyebrows- I actually liked the walk back to MC's through E-towns quiet streets better than the party.

Little did I know then that the boy on the sofa, whom I'd just met, would later become my first boyfriend. If I hadn't met him, my life would have gone a completely different direction - so like it or not, I owe my current fate to that cute boy in glasses, who was mesmerized by the movie.

Isn't it ironic that the last time I saw my brother, was the first time I met such an important figure in my life?

That was the beginning of months of happiness mixed with devastating loss. Perhaps it was my first introduction to the most important lesson of my life: savor the great times and survive the bad. They sometimes come together. Like the sharing of bubblegum (see picture on left of BFF MC with boy from sofa) between friends, it's the little moments, good and bad, that shape your life.

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