Dude from the Past

I ran into Jonathan last week. He was standing in front of the building where my chiropractor does his business. I didn’t remember his name of course, and at first I didn’t recognize him.

He was talking on a cell phone next to a workman painting a wall and as I approached he pointed at me as he stared down the length of his arm, like he was pointing a gun. I thought he was crazy or obnoxious. But then his face came into the focus of my memory. I used to train with him in karate.

He’s a little older than me (at least I think he is) and he was a lower belt at the time, and the time was at least 12 years ago. He had gained some weight and gotten older, but still had the aggressive wise-guy personality. He was there because he managed the building.

So what was new?

We talked about kids. He has a daughter and a son in their 20’s. The son is going to law school in Vermont where his dad said he’d become a communist. I remembered that Jonathan was a Republican. I told him about Nicholas and Sophie.

Actually, before we talked about kids we talked about our old karate sensei, who Jonathan knew a lot better than me because they were neighbors when they both lived in Clairemont. Sounds like this guy suffered from some bad fortune and bad judgement. He screw around on his wife, who left him. He also lost his new house in… was it Santa Luz? Jonathan wasn’t sure.

After my chiropractic visit he and I talked some more and I said goodbye. I quit karate when I ran out of time. It was a pain in the ass, getting to and from training, and though I respected our sensei I never much liked him.

Why then does it mean so much to me, a dozen years after I stopped doing it? Why are the people I met and the memories I have still so meaningful? Maybe it’s the beauty of ordinary life and the life you reach out for, and we don’t see it until it’s gone.



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