Yesterday, Susie and I celebrated our twenty -sixth wedding anniversary [nothing special -- we saw Woody Allen's new film, Blue Jasmine, and then went to Squid's for a dozen each of the best oysters around.] That is a long time, but it is only a third of the time that we have been alive. In November, when we are again in Paris, we will celebrate the sixty-fifth anniversary of our first date, on which I took Susie to see a revival of Marcel Pagnol's film of pre-war Marseille, Cesar. Indeed, since we have talked of taking a brief trip to Marseille while we are in Paris, we could even celebrate the anniversary there!
Now sixty-five years is indeed a long time, but I can recall that first date vividly [and have described it in my autobiography.] Having so long a spread of my life present to my mind inevitably makes me think of one of my favorite episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation, which I believe I have also referenced in my autobiography. It seems that the Enterprise has stumbled upon a space buoy or marker in some far reach of the galaxy, and when they approach to investigate, the buoy sends out a powerful signal that knocks Captain Picard unconscious on the flight deck. While Dr. Crusher works to revive Picard, we see what he is experiencing, thanks to the signal. He finds himself on a planet, unable to return to his ship. After a while, he settles in, acclimates to the local customs [fortunately they are humans and speak English -- oh well], marries [as he never has in real life], has a family, grows old, and has grandchildren. He lives a long, full life on the planet in his mind, until -- only thirty minutes in Enterprise time since being knocked out by the signal from the buoy -- he is revived. He now has, in addition to all of the memories of his real life, a complete set of memories of his "life" on the no longer existent planet. It seems that the people of that world, aware that it would be destroyed by the explosion of their sun, have created the buoy in the hope that someone, sometime, will discover it and recall their world, their people, and their culture.
That is what it is like to be as old as I am. I sometimes wonder whether my entire life has been simply one long extended, complex, rich, detailed dream, from which I will awaken to discover that I am a fourteen year old boy, about to go out on a first date with the lovely girl who sits in front of him in home room at Forest Hills High School. Surely, I think, full as my mind is of so long an unfolding of experiences, this cannot be all life has to offer! Perhaps I will awaken to find that I have an entire life before me, to be deepened and enriched by these memories I find in my mind.
Lacking a space buoy, I have no way of preserving what I have felt and thought for those who will come after me. Perhaps that is why I write.