Opening the album

I’LL BE TURNING 76 before the month’s end, outliving my father, so I opened the album to see what used to be, and I’m sharing with you because I’m a sharing sort of fellow.

I’ve posted some of these photos before, maybe all of them, but it’s been years. I began this internet writing effort in 2005.

I do not have lots of photos from my past. When my second wife tossed me onto the hard Houston streets in 1995, I left most of our photos behind. Wish I had not. It was almost 20 years of memories, but I still have some shots from before and after.

Let’s start when I was in the 7th Grade. That’s me in the middle. Note the shoes.

Roundabout that same year I would pose with my sister in the back yard of our home on Cesery Boulevard in the Jacksonville, Florida, suburb of Arlington. My sister will turn 80 next February, and she lives in what appears to be a double-wide in Arcata, California. We have not communicated in almost a decade. Why? In a nutshell, she is quite difficult.

Our backyard in the 1950s.
Movie extra in New Orleans, 1970s

By the late 1970s, I was living on Prytania Street in New Orleans with Julie who would in time become my second wife, but we didn’t marry till after moving to Houston in the early 1980s. It was while living on Prytania Street that I bought my first manly motorcycle while growing even fonder of the varieties of the demon rum. And gin.

Holding a highball and weighing 225 lbs.
With daughter Celeste, age 12.
With a French friend atop the Torre Latinamericana in Mexico City, the mid-1970s.

In 1976, Julie and I took our first trip to Europe. We visited England, France and Spain. This photo was taken outside our home on Prytania Street as we were heading to the airport. I am a foot taller than she is, so I was scrunching down a bit, bending my knees.

Or perhaps she was standing on a box.

She was a cutie.

In the mid-1980s, my mother and I split the cost of a “new” car for my daughter, and Julie snapped this photo at the moment I presented it to her. She was happy. I’ve been in Mexico 20 years now, and I’m still awaiting a visit from her and her husband, Mitch.

Celeste was happy to see me that day.

The following shot was taken in my apartment on Braes Boulevard in Houston around 1998. Still coping with my involuntary bachelor life, i.e. Julie, combined with having recently broken up with a lovely Latina, i.e. another name, with whom I was much enamored, I was not a happy camper. I cut all my hair off.

Another bad day.

But life improved. A lot! The following shot was taken on the patio of our favorite hotel suite in Zihuatanejo, Mexico, about 10 years ago. I did not weigh 225 pounds anymore. I was sleek and trim. Some would call me skinny.

One reason I wrote this post is because WordPress just now forced a new editing program on us, and it’s incredibly complicated. In the process of putting this together, I’ve become a little more comfortable with it, so I can continue for another 15 years.

There are new features. For instance, now I can put on a slide show, which was not possible before. Here are some color photos, all shot by me a few years back.

And below that is yet another new feature, a tiled gallery. Again, all my photos. All are clickable to see larger versions and to leave comments, which was not possible before.

Happy university!

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The window by our bed in Havana.

TODAY IS our 18th anniversary. Congrats to us.

When we woke up in our Havana guesthouse in 2012, our 10th anniversary, which was why we went to the communist hellhole, my child bride, whose English was none too good and remains so, said to me: Happy university!

We’ve chuckled about that ever since. So now we do not have anniversaries. We have universities, and the entrance exam is strict. No snowflakes.

I was married to my first wife just over five years. I was married to my second wife for a decade, but we lived in sin about nine years before the Houston ceremony performed by a Unitarian minister. There was just the three of us, and we did it on her lunch break. One more year, and I’ll have been with this Mexican hottie longest of all.

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The groom, the bride, the sister, the Eggman (R.I.P.)

We tied the knot in the indoor patio of my sister-in-law’s coffee shop. There was a nice crowd, and we danced. A woman sent by the judge officiated.

You don’t say I do in Mexico.

You say I accept.

Wish someone had told me that in advance.

But it’s all worked out just fine, thank you.

* * * *

(Note: Here are more photos I took in Havana. I wish I had taken more and with a better camera, especially since we’ll never return. It’s a grim place.)

Getting it right, finally

MY FIRST TWO marriages failed, and maybe it was because of how I proposed to those wives. I don’t recall how I did it the first time though I do remember why. That was over half a century ago. But I do remember how I did it the second time.

We were in a restaurant on Westheimer Boulevard in Houston. I did not get down on one knee. I did not have a ring lurking in a champagne flute. There was no music. The waiters did not sing ‘O Sole Mio. I told her we should get married so she could get on my employer-provided medical insurance. She had no coverage.

She swooned. I was such a romantic guy.

We had been living together at that point for seven years.

Perhaps if ObamaCare had existed, we never would have wed, and I would have been spared lots of pain, grief and expense.

By the third time, I had learned, matured, wised up and sobered up.

I did get down on my knee, and I did have a ring. And where did I do it? Where these two pre-Hispanic pyramids join, right there at their base. You see it early in the video, the V between the two structures. That’s where it happened about 18 years ago.

And medical insurance had nothing to do with it.

Thinking back …

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YESTERDAY MORNING, after hard work in the yard, I was sitting at the dining room table after second breakfast, cereal. My child bride had returned to her pastry workshop, so I was alone, gazing out the window toward the distant Alamo Wall.

With elbows on the table, I placed my face into my hands, closed my eyes and thought. What a high pile of memories.

Three-quarters of a century of breathing combined with an adventuresome, sometimes reckless personality lead to all kinds of crap, most still alive in the cranium.

Three wives, two countries plus a Caribbean island, two languages, planes, parachutes, motorcycles, hot-air balloons, mind-altering materials, a number of jobs but only one of any duration. I did stick with that, which was good, and why I’m here right now.

Dancing in clover.

I wonder about people who live in a more linear fashion. Finish school, a real profession, marriage, have kids, grandkids, buy a home and stay put for decades. Take vacations every year to places like Paris, then head home again.

Yes, I know far fewer folks live like that these days, but many still do.

I ponder if I would have preferred that. Some moments of my life have been pure terror. Try two divorces for starters. Once I had a small plane spin out of control, but it got leveled off. Once I flew into a cloud bank with no training on how to deal with that. And once I overflew a rural runway and ended up in the weeds.

Drive a motorcycle drunk? Count the times. Other stuff so absurd I’m not even going to share. Yet, there I sat at the table, full of cereal, low-fat milk and chia seeds while my child bride was baking brownies, and the sun was shining in a cool, blue sky.