Fresh Eyes: A Brilliant life

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by Al Brilliant

Brian Clarey has flattered me. He says I must write something for Triad City Beat, 800 words for a column I read every week: Fresh Eyes. That’s 27 words, only 773 to go. He also wants a photograph. Well, I no longer have fresh eyes. Having lived 78 years, half of them in Greensboro, my eyes are tired. Tired eyes.

Tired eyes, yes, I can give you. Not fresh ones. Yet it gets better every year. Now that’s strange. We’re told old age sucks. It’s for the birds — who, by the way, live an average of only five years.

Take cardinals, the official bird of my home state, Missouri. Any day now, a male cardinal will build a nest for this spring’s family. And you know what? The female cardinal comes along, knocks the nest apart and rebuilds it. Then she happily lays her eggs, while Mr. Cardinal runs all over the place gathering seeds and other vegan, wholesome products.

Yes, I kid you not, it gets better every year. 2013 was the best year of my life, and I fully expect 2014, already off to a rip-roarin’ start, to be even better. 2013 was better than 2012, which was darn good! I’m a happy fella – goin’ to Dr. Robert Ehinger next week for my annual checkup, expecting a clean bill of health. No intimate relationships, mind you, but I guess I’m just not up to that. Although my father, who lived to be 100, remarried, after my mother died at age 92.

Yep, Mac, as we all called Dad, came to see me in Greensboro. This was in 1990. Said he wanted to get married, and the young chippie he met in Florida (a sexy 85) told him she wouldn’t marry him unless he was reconciled to his only child. Dad and Mom had gotten angry at me way back in 1956, for marrying a divorced woman. Course, they assumed I was her second husband, when I was actually her sixth. Didn’t bother them she was three times my age, that she wasn’t Jewish, that she was born in China – none of that mattered. But she was divorced. Dad and Mom were born in the 19th Century, she in Vienna, Austria, he in Odessa, Urkraine. Well, every black sheep I’ve met has a family

My pal, Charlie, tells me he gets tired easily these days. He’s always been so strong, used to working day and night. Yep, you do get a little tired as you get older, that lie is true. My job goes from noon to 6 p.m. every afternoon, seven days a week. But the worst is, I get up at 5 a.m., because I’m working on a suite of six novels this year, and I’ve always done my writing from 5 a.m. until noon. As you can imagine, by 6 p.m., I’m starting to get pretty tired.

A young couple, Daniel and Lauren, newlyweds, urged me to come live with them this year. I had been living in the office of my bookshop, since I opened it seven years ago. But it’s been broken into three times. It’s a little scary. Daniel and Lauren were sure I’d get murdered, so they begged me to come live with them, which I did. They’ve got heat and air-conditioning, hot water, a shower, a kitchen, you name it! No break-ins either. They’re hardly ever there, as they go on tour a lot; they call themselves “Lowland Hum,” bucksters. They’re doing six weeks up and down the West Coast as we speak.

How about Greensboro for music? Isn’t it something? This younger generation, now they’ve got fresh eyes. They love music. Crazy for it. Just about every young man and young woman I know plays an instrument, sings, drums, you name it! Guitars galore! Analiese plays the saxophone. Or they’re dancers, poets, there’s theater, gymnastics, ballet, poetry, phew! The culture in our city is not to be believed! And we’re talking extraordinary quality and talent.

But what I like best about my adapted city is its volunteerism. There isn’t a city in the world like it. You need help? It’s here. Take the Interactive Resource Center. I went there for a tour, and I bawled like a baby. Never been so proud to be a citizen of Greensboro! To have such a facility for people truly down and out. They have meals, and places to sit and chat, showers, an address, computer access, social workers, mailboxes. Terrific! Yes, we get teased about so many churches, but maybe that’s the primary source of all this volunteering?

Uh oh, 775 words, folks. My eyes have actually brightened up chatting with you all. What fun! It’s a pleasure to meet ya’, freshening!

 

Al Brilliant owns Glenwood Coffee & Books in Greensboro.