It’s hard to believe this but here we are again. Tomorrow is Christmas Eve and shortly after, the new year will come. It’s crazy to think about the last two years. It’s even crazier to think about where we’ve been and what we’ve gone through. Of course, there have been ups and downs, losses and gains.
Most of us have gone through different degrees of separation. We’ve lived through historic times yet, none of this is over; at least, not any time soon.
There were times when we had to breathe out so someone else could breathe in. But here we are again at a moment when we’ve spun once more, completely around the sun. It’s hard to believe that this is where we are. And here we are, back again in more ways than one.
I have decided that I do not want to play this game anymore. Not with you or anyone else for that matter. What I mean is this, I want to drop the subject. At least for now. I want to take myself somewhere else like, say, a beach for example.
I don’t mean a typical beach. Although, in fairness, I admit that white sand, palm trees with blue waters, waves and the bright sun is enough to solve a depressive soul.
However, there are pictures I’ve seen of shoreline homes in Nova Scotia. I have seen photographs where the greenery is greener than ever. I have seen pictures of Newfoundland and places in Greenland that have opened my eyes to different ideas when it comes to shores and shoreline dreams.
I received a message from someone in Iceland. This was a long time ago but time is not the topic. The message came from a woman. She was a follower of a blog that I kept on a tattoo website. I never knew her by name. I only knew her by a screen name.
She sent me an email regarding a story of mine that took place when I was younger. The story is as crazy as anything else in my youth. It was equally as stupid and careless too.
The story is about a time when the snow piled high and my brother asked me if I wanted to go “Skitching.”
For those who do not know what skitching is or have never heard the word, well now you’re in for a treat.
Maybe this was a New York thing or maybe not. We used to go skitching as kids, which meant that we would wait at stop signs on side streets during snowy days before the snow plows cleared the way. The idea was to crouch down and grab onto the bumper of a car, hold on and let the car pull you along the icy streets. You held on for as long as you could until you fell or the car came to a stop. Most drivers would freak out and stop. Sometimes, they’d keep driving and most times, we’d hold onto the bumper for as long as we could.
I must have been somewhere around the age of 12. Small as ever. Skinny too, and I mean I was thin like a toothpick. My brother came in from the snow. He had a different idea.
His idea was to go to the parking lot at Eisenhower Park. This was down the street from us. The lot was circular and big with speed bumps and cars parked in spots with sleigh-riding kids who took to the hill, which was just off from the lot itself.
My brother had a rope in his trunk. It was not a very clean rope. It was brown and coarse and frayed at the ends. His idea was to tie the rope to the back of the bumper and then I could hold onto the rope and be pulled around the circular parking lot.
However, upon execution, my brother’s idea changed. His next idea was to tie the rope around my waist. This was a problem because his knot-tying abilities were poor. More to the point, my brother’s only knot was a slipknot, which meant the knot would cinch itself tighter around my waist if it pulled beyond my grasp. Either way, my brother was sure this was a great idea. So, he tied the short length of rope to the bumper and yes, you guessed it, the other end was tied around me.
Let’s be clear on a few things. First, I was a kid and a small kid at that. Next, I was six years younger than my brother. He was my big brother.
He was the popular kid in town. He was known for being a great athlete. He was tough. He was strong. Girls loved him. Friends loved him and yes, safe to say my brother was the complete design of what I hoped to be like someday. And confidentially, this day was not a representation of my brother at his best. To be clear, I was happy that my big brother wanted to hang out with me.
Could you believe that?
Welp, the best laid plans are not always the best laid plans. And ah, what can we say about being crazy kids and capricious youth? It is what it is, I suppose.
I admit that I was slightly nervous but more, I was nervous in an adrenaline rush sort of way. And the car started driving. Then we started moving. And we were going. I was holding on, I was crouched and leaning back with my butt just hovering above the ground. I was moving. And I was going. And I was holding on. And everything was fine. UNTIL . . .
I fell to the side, which would have been fine if I had the ability to let go of the rope. But no.
I lost this ability because somewhere in the genius mind of my big brother and my hero, he slip-knotted the rope around my waist.
When I fell, the rope pulled up around my stomach and cinched tightly to where I couldn’t breathe. I was constricted as if the rope were a reticulating python. I hit the speed bumps. I had snow all over my face. I was bouncing all around and then suddenly, the excitement changed. The assumption that my big brother wanted to hang out with me transferred to a different idea.
My big brother didn’t want to hang out with me.
He was trying to kill me!
But he wasn’t. And I was fine. I only thought I was going to die. I thought it was curtains when I couldn’t breathe. I was bouncing around the icy pavement while being dragged by my dear older brother and thought to myself, “Son of a bitch!”
We were stupid kids. Nothing more. Eventually the ride stopped. I didn’t cry. I do remember a point before I nearly lost consciousness. I remember there was snow all over my face and that through the snow on my face, I could see a glimpse of the sky, which was starting to clear. A beam of sunlight shone through as if to open up to me like the Gates of Heaven.
I shake my head and laugh because of what we survived. I smile and thank my Mother for always putting us back together again. And then I shake my head because of what we put Mom through.
As crazy as this might seem, I see this as a funny story between two brothers. And there are more like it and yes, I did survive them all with minimal scarring to the flesh. But more, this story was about two brothers who went through life and that no matter what, aside from my Father, The Old Man, my brother David Kimmel has always been a hero to me.
I have always wanted to please him. I want to be like him and to be clear, I’ve always wanted him to be proud of me. But more to the point, this is what the story was about. It was funny in some ways and touching in others.
The woman in Iceland picked up on the sentiment. She appreciated my story and shared a little of hers. She had a brother too. They had crazy times and did crazy things together. They had fights too and arguments like most siblings. She loved her brother. She told me so.
She told me that he was her hero and that after his suicide, she struggled to think of her brother without feeling the sad pains of loss. She said that she seldom smiled or laughed about their past but somehow, something about my story was able to reach her with a smile and a tear at the same time.
In all of my life, I have never received such an honor like this and as such, I doubt that I will ever receive an honor that could match this.
There’s so much more out there in this world. There’s so much more to think about. I don’t want to play these games anymore. I don’t want to argue about vaccines or the trivialities of politics. I want to see things. I want to feel things. I want to experience the best this world can offer me. By the way, this is impossible to do if we listen to the news.
No, I want to see other things like the beaches in distant places. I want to see the greenery of different lands and find myself in a small coffee shop somewhere in a different part of the world.
I want to go to Iceland, Covid or not, and I want to see what the sunset looks like in the northern sky. But don’t worry. I’ll dress warmly.
I want to be at a distant shore in the most northern part of our hemisphere and see where the waters quench the shoreline. I want to see the sky and taste the air. I want to live. That’s all. I don’t want to quarantine or worry about the person next to me and how his mask is on his chin and not his face.
I don’t want to talk about mandates, vaccines or variants of a virus.
I want to see life. I want to hear laughter. I want to feel the heartwarming nature of someone telling me, “Hello” in a different language.
I want to see a smile because a smile in any language is universal. And that’s what I want. That’s what I want for tomorrow.
If this is the time of year for comfort and joy, then what can we do to build comfort and joy? What can we do to be happy?
As a matter of fact, I called Santa. I even left a message for him. Let’s just hope Santa checks his messages before he boards his sleigh tomorrow night.
Here’s his number. (951) 262-3062.
Maybe Santa will listen if you call too.