Call me Hope

I am the reason you chose to buy new carpeting for the old house.

I am the reason you planted that maple sapling in the front yard.

I am the reason you saved money to take that trip to Paris next summer.

I am the engine that brought you here today.

My name is Hope.

In a minute or two, I will be the present Ö er, something else.

As I muddle through the 50th (or is it the 87th?) year of my life, I find myself still stopping at the garden seeds display at Menardís, since Iím there anyway to buy a couple of gallons of paint. Menardís is a place where you naturally save big money Ė always important when youíre on a fixed income, right? Ė and itís a place that gently reminds us that we are wearing out and sometimes need to fix a few things that are broken.

Kinda like that wobbly knee. Or, in my case, some new and interesting research that can turn a man with ruined lungs into a sexy 10-mile jogger again. Fat chance, but again Ė my name is Hope.

Many years have passed since we were planning on being something else in another year.

Much has happened.

Color television, replaced by smaller versions, lighter versions, throwaway versions, even better color television that's called "plasma," which is not to be confused with blood. Then it was replaced by Skype. Hell, someday, we might just go visit people just to make it seem more real.

TV still sucks.

TV dinners in aluminum containers (tasty, right?). Then, we got microwave ovens, which were replaced by vegetarian delights that you eat raw.

Fish on Fridays at school. If you wait till the end, you can get seconds, according to Mrs. Rusterholtz.

Brookville High School became Franklin County High School and still wonít play Oldenburg, which was a convent or something back in the days when we drove around in 1955 Fords that we secretly wished were 1957 Chevy Impalas.

They dammed up the river. I wonít go into that.

Has anybody ever really BEEN to Mixerville?

No? Well, people went to the Moon. (Twice, I think. Or they claimed as much, anyway.) They also invented shrink wrap. Of the two -- the Moon or shrink wrap -- I canít say which is more difficult to manage. Moon, Mixerville ... you ain't been to either of those places. There is still time. Remember where you got this advice. From me. Hope. Mixerville or bust. (Don't ask about Mars. We can get you there, but that's all. Of course, you WOULD be on Mars, which would be unusual, even for a 1964 Brookville graduate.)

They built the tallest building ever, and if you call it Willis Tower, almost nobody in Chicago can tell you where itís located.

The Cubs have finally won the championship, so I knew I was right.

For most of us, we have significantly less of what once was me Ė Hope Ė and significantly more of something else. That would be my friend, Memories. Lucky for us, the coupon says, on the back, that itís transferable.

I retrain trust that this snow will melt, since I am -- after all -- Hope. Currently the sun is shining and the glare off the glaze is almost blinding, but itís bright enough for me to see fairly far into the future. It's called grass. Thereís green in that, I'll bet.

Any day now, I need to get out there and plant those marigolds. (Do I buy seeds or should I just select the plants from the garden section? I can save big money here, you realize.)

The new carpeting, however, will not be green.

-- John C. Updike