Thursday, December 6, 2012

No. 546 – The Pretender

Performer: Foo Fighters
Songwriters: Dave Grohl, Taylor Hawkins, Nate Mendel, Chris Shiflett
Original Release: Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace
Year: 2007
Definitive Version: None

I bought a whole bunch of music in summer 2008 as something of a renewal, and Echoes, etc. was one of the things that I bought. In fact, I played it for the first time—and then multiple times after—as Laurie and I drove to Torch Lake in August of that year.

The occasion was to celebrate Dad and Laura’s 30th wedding anniversary, which passed in February of that year. They were planning to have some 200 people in the front yard of their place, including Jin, Scott and their families. It would be the first time that everyone would be together since, well, ever—at least since John and Bridget were born in 2006.

That would be trying circumstances for outsiders under normal circumstances, but it was even more so for Laurie, who still was awakening from her spring nightmare. Fortunately, friends of the family stepped in. They let us borrow their cabin on adjacent Thayer Lake, about a 10-minute drive from Dad and Laura’s spread on Torch.

I’d driven by Thayer Lake practically every time I visited Torch, but I’d not actually been since catching a blue gill when I was 6 or 7. The cabin was a cozy little home nestled in the dark fir woods. It had two bedrooms, a great room with a fireplace, a kitchen and bathroom and loads of privacy.

It was perfect. Aside from being nicely appointed, it was far from the madding crowd. If Laurie and I wanted to get away from everyone else for a little peace and quiet, we could. We took advantage of that in the mornings, never showing up till after noon, but otherwise we spent most of our time surrounded by tumult.

We had a good visit. The party was a rousing success—all the kids got a handmade bench for Dad and Laura to put down by the lake—and afterward, we were treated to an impromptu fireworks display across the lake. Honestly, it was one of the best displays I’ve ever seen anywhere. Rumor at the time—since dispelled, I think—had it that it was Kid Rock, who has a place up there.

Laurie had a good time, taking it upon herself to keep an eye out on John and Bridget as they toddled around the yard during the party. (She said later that she thought that that was the best thing she could do, anyway, because she didn’t know a lot of the people there.) Everyone said Laurie looked great, and I agreed. She was doing well.

During dinner, which only seemed endless considering the quality and quantity of the food, Jin and I found ourselves sitting on the deck with Scott, Shani and Paul, away from most of the other party-goers, and Jin said something profound: There’s “the family” and there’s “Bill’s kids.” We’re “Bill’s kids.” Everything was fine, but I knew exactly what she meant, and her words have stuck with me to this day.

Actually, the best part of the whole weekend was that when it was over, Jin, Paul and Bridget followed us to Chicago for an extended visit. One of the nights they stayed with us, we had a gala dinner at Calo’s in Andersonville for The Posse, of which, Paul was a former member.

I particularly enjoyed that Jin could see my new life and how it connected with hers. All things considered, it was appropriate to have The Posse—Laurie’s de facto family—meet my sister. No, she wasn’t just “Paul’s wife,” if you know what I mean. That night, the expanded circle was unbroken.

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