Friday, June 06, 2008

Big Numbers

Listening to the NBA finals last night, I heard the announcer say that it’s been 21 years since the Celtics were in the championship. Not that I mind; a century could pass without the parquet-floored Beantowners having a winning season and I wouldn’t care; but what struck me so powerfully about that statement was how much more recent that event seemed to me.

I can remember quite distinctly being in Mexico—on my honeymoon—in a rather frighteningly cheesy condo on the beach at San Carlos, listening to transistor radio that faded in and out as the Magic Johnson took control of Game 6 and Lakers won the series 4 wins to 2. While I know intellectually that, as I’ve just celebrated two-decades-plus-one of wedded bliss, that it has to be 21 years ago since the event, it’s still shocking.

Twenty-one years is a long time. A person—my nephew, John, for instance, becomes an adult in that span, but in my life, it’s just a moment, one that I reach back towards and pluck as easily as I can a dandelion from my lawn—perhaps even easier, since today my lower sacroiliac is giving me a bit of nonsense.

Similarly, today is forty years since Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated. I recall perfectly sitting in my classroom at the school in Holland I was attending when my teacher came in and told me that Kennedy had been shot. I thought, at first, that he had said “in the hand,” and so I just shrugged, but when he repeated himself and I heard through his accent that he meant “head,” I raced home on my bike to tell my mom and in those days before the internetz, I totally scooped her, but again, that’s a long damn time ago—and yet still well within my scope of memory.

I wonder if forty years from now, I’ll be able to recall today; if so, at least, I’ll have this to help.


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