Not quite. I’m not religious. Particularly. In Saudi this view does not fly. So, say nothing. I was advised to do so and for this particular time I did so. So there is no upcoming crucifixion. However, there is always a last supper. My last night in Jeddah, well next to the last, I ate out with the people who cared about me and meant most to me. It was “bye.” We had a very nice peaceful subdued dinner in a Korean restaurant. My circle was complete. I taught Khalid how to use chop sticks in about ten seconds. He’s good. I’ll be missed. And I will miss them. A lot of history was shared these past four years. To paraphrase – what happened in Jeddah, stayed in Jeddah. Or, if you have something nice to say do it. No one likes to hear complaints. To which I can only add, “We sure did some interesting shit.” Yes, that’s the operative word.
The hardest thing about leaving anywhere is the friends you leave behind. And there is a certain familiarity to sameness. Folks don’t want to break away from the familiar. Would that be a contributing factor to mid-life crisis… fast car, girlfriend, new wife…? I grew up in a lot of different places. I’ve worked in a lot of places. Some things are constant – my profession and specialty. But otherwise, I have moved among groups and things with relative aplomb. No! I do not like to learn new operations. But learn we must. Or retire. It works that way. Watch. Observe. Shake your head. I watched my senior partner who could no longer operate. He’d failed to learn new tricks. It forces you to depend upon others or… retire. I promised myself never to be so. Fortunately, folks are friendly enough wherever you go. Characters! For sure! They are not family. They are friends. So I made some when I arrived.
Wissam , neurologist, sometimes scuba diver, with a poor sense of direction – in the sea. He once tried to Sudan. I pulled him back, pointed him correctly, and told him it would have been a very long swim…
Rida, ophthalmologist, a man with muscles who could do delicate eye surgery, someone better with 10-0 suture than me – by far!
And Nasser, GS – general surgeon, no – he does not dress like this for the OR. But the man undeniably has style.
Farid, orthopedic surgery – are you seeing a pattern here? Farid is the closest buddy I have here. Curiously, I’m older than all of them. See that? I apologize to him for this picture. Things will tie in eventually… He got me to learn scuba diving. And then we went on a boat trip. He’s very gracious. Shhh.. don’t tell him. He gets sea sick and actually hates boats. To be sure he gave me some pills for sea sickness. Yes, I toss my cookies too. Actually the secret is that when the boat stops, the up and down immediately makes you hurl. Got it? Laughing yet. It’s hard when you are green! What Farid neglected to say, was that he took six pills. We literally had to push him over the side to dive when the time came. He did not remember too much about the diving that day. That would put him high on my friend list – to take me – when he’d rather not. Yes, you make friends. Life is about change. It sometimes feels like jumping from the fire from the frying pan. But on the other side, the experience is exhilarating. One go around, life is one way. I’m thinking I’d like to have been in new situations and recall the stories with fondness.
I hide out in an alcove of the hospital. No office. Nowhere to hide. There was an area on the second floor…but they told me people would hide out and have sex. Damn, why do I always miss out on stuff like that. So I am being harassed by my buddies. They make fun that they see me sleeping when they walk by. I know it’s not true because they have never complained about my snoring. Faisal is on the right. He is from Yemen and is my gym buddy. He calls to wake me when I pass out on the gym mat. Rida is my neighbor in the compound and the chief of eye surgery. The whole body – and all he cares about is 2 square centimeters of eye. Yeah, pretty funny. Obviously I was not sleeping. I took the picture! Right? Yes, it’s not much of a portrait, but then again this was not a beauty contest.
Everyone happy? You bet. People were smiling for two days straight. Unlike weddings before digital, the smart phone has captured spontaneity and turned everything on end. I still like a real image, you know, real camera? But the smartphone captures that moment in ways film never could. Instant. Instant feedback. Do over. Yup. No waiting. It’s the new order. There are more smartphone images and by far iPhone images online than traditional camera images. Bet you knew that. I’m still amazed at how digital imaging has so easily allowed us to take images in the dark. No flash. No muss. No fuss. Totally spontaneous. Ok, so I shot with a real camera and with a real flash. But you get the idea. They walked away with a shot in hand immediately. Hello World!
David Mike Josh – buddies since kindergarten. How about that? I’m not in touch with anyone from grade school to college to med school. Of course we moved about every two years. No Facebook, Twitter… well there is this one girl… Jules was kind enough to invite the guys. All single! Yup – “Wedding Crashers” on the prowl. Dave has a girl – sort of – and the others checked out the single ladies…not too many and not too available. Yes, right after the ceremony the rain let up for a moment. The mist or the water on my lens was still significant. Do you think they were happy? Yup! I do! Hey, they still say that phrase at the end of the ceremony. I heard it! We always joked that groom said, “I do.” followed by, “I did?!” But yes, Dave’s sister is still happily married! As for this crew, they will be buddies for life. It’s so nice to see them again. It’s been a while.
Colleen was a girl I met in the third grade. She lived across the street from my grade school. And when she didn’t feel like attending she walked across the street through the school building and out the other door to return home without being seen by her mother. Yes, that is my kind of humor. This many years later she remains a good sport. Imagine during our early conversation she said to me, “I like beer.” Well, “I like pretzels.” It’s all relative I guess. Beer and pretzels go – right? A year ago I met her again.
Yes. I did this in Photoshop. I’m lazy. I just kept the focal length the same and we each shot a frame standing in the same spot. Paste and clone. It’s not as close as a selfie but it works.
There are classic hot dog stands in Maine. Bob Draper and Kevin Frary introduced me to Wasse’s in Rockland. They have a couple more stores now. And the market carries hot dogs in a brilliant unnaturally red casing that you know is bad for you. Here is a lesser know institution in Boothbay. The name is self-evident. It looks like a one-man operation. Lots of folks come around. Even on this cold chill September day, there were folks braving a cool breeze and threatening rain. Business is enough to support a souvenir shop next door. Or is it the souvenir shop that brings people by? There is a menu with lots of other stuff. But why would you not order a dog?
Today it’s about the story of some other dear friends. I’d say ‘old friends’ but you might take it the wrong way. It was a celebration at their place and I didn’t get a single focused shot. Light was great but the digital camera failed me. And I didn’t look at the screen. The good news is… no wrinkles, anywhere. Fuzzy is okay, I can make-up the details myself. Sometimes it’s possible you don’t want to remember all the details. We’ve been friends since the kids were in preschool. That’s a lot of years ago.
The photo was taken in Ashburnham, Massachusetts on a lake in the fall. It was an early morning with a still wind. The reflection is self-explanatory except that it’s turned on its side. No, no Photoshop. It actually was the real deal. You don’t get this too often. But the story is of four couples, friends for many years (too many to say here) who would gather periodically to hangout and do whatever. In this case it was getting on a pontoon boat for a little early morning cruise. Sorry, if you don’t look your best early in the morning before coffee and tea. The guys were cooking breakfast.
Just like those buddy movies, David and Michael remain best friends to this day. They met in grammar school and have stayed steadfast ever since. This was one of the autumn trips we took to Bear Mountain. They were just a couple of buddies having a quiet walk in the woods. To complete the circle, David called me this past autumn for directions to the lake. He and Mike, with Sarah and Josh, were planning to hike in the autumn around the lake again. It’s pretty special to have that memory carrying forward.