Watching the fire


Many, many nights in my life have been spent in front of a fire. We got our first house with a fire when I had just finished first grade. It was in Kansas, and while there wasn’t really a fireplace in the house, my dad made what used the be the chicken house into his workshop, and put a big, black, cast iron stove in it. On winter weekend nights, we would spend hours out there, eating peanuts roasted on the top of the stove and watching an old black-and-white TV while my dad worked on various projects.

I was in junior high when we moved away from that house to Oklahoma. Our new house didn’t have a fireplace at first, but we added on some rooms, and one of the things we added was a big, stone fireplace, with a hearth you could sit on. I spent innumerable hours in front of that fireplace—often after everyone else was in bed and with no lights on—staring into the flames or the embers, daydreaming about a million things…like what my life would be like when I grew up. There were happy nights and sad nights. There were nights in front of that fire with guys, like Boyd and Brent and later, Steve and Jerry, Mike, and Kerry. Some were friends, some were more. Some I still remember and some have long been forgotten, just like the guys.

When I moved away from home at 19, one of the most vivid memories I have is of playing footsie in front of a fireplace with a guy who would become a very special friend. I didn’t play footsie with anyone again for 25 years. He was very special, too.

There were also nights alone, like tonight. Nights when I wondered where I would end up, and with whom, if anyone. Nights when I wanted nothing more than to NOT be alone in front of the fire; to find the person with whom I could share anything and everything, without fear or hesitation. I believe that man is out there—somewhere—hopefully looking into his own fire and wondering where to find me.

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