Happy Anniversary To Us

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Four years ago — well, four years and one day ago, to be exact — The October Weekend was reborn.

I was sitting around, feeling old, and wanting to write, so I moved off my couch, sat down at my computer chair, and still feeling old, I started to write.

Over the past 1,424 days — well, 1,425 days to be exact — I’ve sat down with “The October Weekend” and spilled my guts about things both personal and random.

The results have produced 169 posts — this one is 170 — and 28,502 people have taken the time to read my words.

Some of you are loyal readers who read everything I post (Thanks Mom, thanks Dad) … Others are regular returnees who are trying to figure out what’s going on in my mind (Is that you, Liz?) … some of you randomly find me through Google or word of mouth … and most of you get bored too easily and perhaps click here to lull yourself to sleep late at night.

Better me than porn, I suppose.

I didn’t know exactly what life “The October Weekend” would take when I started. I haven’t posted nearly as much as I wanted to when I first hit “publish” on my very first post back on Feb. 22, 2013.

But, alas, like a good friend who is always there for me, this space has allowed me to spit out my thoughts on a variety of topics that have popped into my head, touched my heart, or simply pissed me off.

I’ve publicly backed a loser for President — though most of us know the real loser appears to have wound up in office — and reminisced about friends and loved ones from long ago.

I’ve also told stories both sad and motivational about people I don’t know, but whose tales came to my attention, made me want to know more and allowed me to share their story with you.

Just like I was clueless to the future of all this white space when I first sat down four years (and one day) ago, I remain in the dark as I move forward.

When I feel the urge, I’ll sit down and write.

That still is what “The October Weekend” means to me. A place to express my feelings, my emotions, my memories and more.

Feel free to keep enjoying the ride.


The Woman Who Traveled The World

A church in Italy, one of the sights my world-traveling friend's eyes have seen.

A church in Italy, one of the sights my world-traveling friend’s eyes have seen.

We were 16 and in love. As such, young couples don’t tend to weigh risk vs. reward, opting instead to jump feet first into a new adventure and just enjoy the ride.

That’s how we – me and my girlfriend in the spring of 1983 — ended up climbing a fence at the Bangor International Airport, just to take a closer look at the airplanes.

Read that again.

There we were, two precocious 16-year-old kids, climbing over the fence of an international airport.

Needless to say, what was an unwise decision back then would likely be a serious federal offense that would find its way to CNN these days.

The reason I bring this up today is because I just read a Facebook post from her that made me smile and remember. Dancing with ghosts, she calls it.

So dance I shall.

She’s flying to Ethiopia. Hopefully going through the main gate and customs, though.

One of my favorite stories about us is how we both wound up living the same dreams we had back then.

Well except for the one where we’d be together forever, grow old and watch the grand kids drive their parent’s – our children — crazy.

But, what were the odds of that happening, really?

Instead, her mother moved her away at the end of her junior year. I’ve only seen her once since then, shortly after my marriage when she returned to Maine for a visit.

Over the years we’ve talked on the phone a few times, written letters and emails back and forth.

We’ve lost touch and found each other again.

Fate, at the very least, has given us that.

And we realized both of us had kept following our dreams and embraced them with a passion.

Anybody who has known me since third grade knows I’ve always wanted to be a writer. So I write.

She always wanted to see the world and go on adventures, both near and far.

My dear friend, Yvette, served in Iraq, just one of the places in the world her eyes have seen.

My dear friend, Yvette, served in Iraq, just one of the places in the world her eyes have seen.

And I love the fact that she’s gotten to do just that.

I don’t know how many different countries she’s visited in her life, but it’s been a bunch. And she’s currently living in Germany, where she continues to help our troops through her job

Buried in my box of memories are postcards and pictures of some of the places she has gone, sent over the years when we were in touch with each other.

She served her country in Iraq – God bless for her for that because she’s my ultimate hero in that sense – and has vacationed in far-away exotic places my eyes can only dream about.

She has skied her way down mountains and soaked herself in tropical waters with gorgeous sunsets.

She has lived that part of her life as she always wanted.

And today she’s off on another adventure, seeing another part of her world, making another small part of her dream come true.

Safe travels, my friend.

And never forget the final words written on the card in 1990!

To All The Girls I’ve Loved Before

Photo courtesy of askideas.com

Photo courtesy of askideas.com

You are all so welcome.

Today, the day of Cupid, you are not with me … so that is my Valentine’s Day gift to you.

On the day when love allegedly conquers all, I offer you up eternal happiness, away from me and the few things I bring to the table.

Humor. Friendship. Understanding.

Yeah, that’s about it.

I’m alone on yet another’s Valentine’s Day and I’m perfectly fine with that.

I’ve made my bed and I get to sleep in it … alone, spread out, hogging my own sheets and pillows.

It’s nice.

Even when it’s not.

I may not believe in love anymore, but it’s not like I don’t think about it.

My 50 years are scattered with a plethora of failed romances, broken hearts, destroyed relationships. It’s also dotted with missed chances, lost smiles, and even more broken hearts.

And for that I am sorry. Truly sorry.

As such, I’ve waved the white flag on chasing/pining for/having a significant other.

It’s been more than 10 years.

And I’d say 99.9 percent of the time I don’t miss it.

I do what I want, when I went, how I want and I answer to nobody but myself.

I’d buy myself chocolates, but I weigh enough as it is and I don’t want to create any expectations for myself.

A romantic dinner, alone … A bottle of wine, alone … Suddenly tipsy, I take myself home … alone.

Well, you get the idea.

Valentine’s Day is not for me.

But it’s not that I don’t believe in love.

I do.

I think.

At least, I did.

I look back over these last 50 years and, for the most part, I do cherish the times I was in love and the happy memories that were made during those segments of my life.

It doesn’t matter that, technically, each and every one failed … often leading to tears, heartbreak, heartache.

The tears dry, the heartbreak mends, the heartache fades over time.

So now that I’m — as I’m wont to say, in “The October Weekend” of my life — I can look back over a lifetime of loves and appreciate each of them for what they really wore.

Complete failures.

Wait, I mean, opportunities to grow.

My first kiss was in fourth grade and it was nothing more than pure peer pressure.

I remember the girl, I remember the place, but I barely remember the kiss.

Sorry, no Winnie Cooper “Wonder Years” moment here.

Just the facts, ma’am … who, what and where.

The next relationship I remember was my eighth grade year.

Hormones raging, mind spinning, hearts pounding and getting to second base was more important off the baseball field than on it. Talk about confusion.

High school was where love really introduced itself and all it had to offer, the great and the bad.

Puppy love with the girl who sat in front of me in Mr. Dexter’s Civics class my sophomore year.

First love a year later with a girl from another school.

The funny thing about those two is that both moved away from me in the middle of our relationships. That’s heartbreak, right there … When you first start to innocently believe in forever and get dealt with the crushing forces of reality.

The next six years were a flurry of relationships … some I look back fondly on, some are names I couldn’t recall with a gun to my head … lasting anywhere from one night to a few months.

I think it’s fair to say that I really and truly did love some of those people during that time.

And some of those people still tug at my heart. You quite likely know who you are, if you are in that category.

A marriage soon followed. Seven years. A house, a child, a future.

She deserved better.

Because a failed marriage soon followed.

I won’t lie. The next few years after that were an alcoholic-induced and drug-created haze, divided up amongst some poor choices and least proudest moments.

Even with the scattering of good “opportunities” I couldn’t take advantage of anything to pull myself out. I was far too lost down the rabbit hole.

One – an absolute angel, from a least expected place – was put in front of me to save my life, and she did.

I’m certain of it.

But it wasn’t meant to be, either.

None of them were.

Depending on which edict you follow, there is one true love for everybody out there. Have I met mine? Did I blow that opportunity? Or is fate playing a cruel game?

I don’t know. I think I met her and lost her. But that’s just me.

So, having been burned, and having self-destructed a few relationships myself, I wrote them off for all of time.

I was done chasing. I was done with the game.

I was 40 years old.

Game, set, match.

Only I wasn’t the winner. I was just done playing.

And I haven’t played in over a decade since.

So it’s Valentine’s Day, 2017.

If we once loved, you and I, then look around you. If somebody else is there and your heart sings, then you’re welcome. I was just a stepping stone to today’s bliss.

If you are like me, alone, on this Valentine’s Day, I at least hope you can look back and find some positives from yesterday’s relationships and hold them close. Even with me.

We’re born into this world ready to be loved and certainly deserving of it.

Sometimes, though, life – and love — just doesn’t work out.

I’m OK with that.

At least 99.9 percent of the time.


Sometimes You Just Want To Feel Close To Home

Patrick Stewart of Bangor, Maine, was a senior at Colby College this winter (Photo courtesy of centralmaine.com)

Patrick Stewart of Bangor, Maine, was a senior at Colby College this winter (Photo courtesy of centralmaine.com)

Walking through the under belly of Wesleyan University’s Freeman Athletic Center in Middletown, Connecticut, I came across the Colby College hockey team.

I was there for the 2017 National High School Squash Championships. The Mules were there to play hockey.

One by one, earphones plugged in to drown out the outside, they were lugging their gear from the bus, heading to their locker room, their eyes focused on what was to come.

Suddenly, I was focusing on what once was.

Colby College. Waterville. Maine.


Well, almost home.

Waterville is located about a 50-minute drive from my hometown, but it’s a place I’ve been to too many times to count.

As an athlete. As a sports writer. As a coach. As a fan.

Colby College was a place I knew well.

One of the highlights of my life occurred at Colby College way back during my sophomore year in high school.

The school was playing host to the Maine State Cross Country Championship meet and that day I happened to have the race of my life, finishing 27th … right on the heels of our No. 2 runner who was usually more than a minute in front of me.

From start to finish, I felt great. It was a hilly course and I loved it. It’s one of the highlights of my athletic career (27th? Shows you how pathetic my overall talent level was, I suppose).

The Waterville-campus continued to play a role in my life after I started working at the Bangor Daily News. I was covering a lot of Husson College basketball games back then and it was a pretty intense in-state rivalry with Colby that made those sojourns down I-95 so worth it.

I saw countless good Division 3 college basketball games inside the Wadsworth Gymnasium, and many good players.

For a few summers, when I was in my 30s, I got to work on the basketball courts that Colby College offered up. I was coaching basketball in those days and working basketball camps in the summer.

We stayed in the dorms, ate in the dining commons, and, like kids revisiting our college days, drank a little too much at night.

So, yeah … Colby … great memories.

It wasn’t long after the hockey team walked past me that Colby’s men’s basketball team entered the facility, as well. It too was facing Wesleyan that day.

“Any Mainers on the team,” I asked a random player, recalling the program’s love for in-state players. “I grew up in Bangor.”

“Bangor? Patrick Stewart is from Bangor,” a player replied, pointing up the hallway at the 6-foot-6 Colby senior walking well in front of us.

I left Bangor 19 years ago and never looked back.


Patrick Stewart, Colby College basketball player.

That meant Patrick Stewart, if he had been born in Bangor, was likely just three years old when I left.

I knew nothing about him short of the fact of what I just learned. He was from Bangor and played for Bangor High School before going off to college.

Suddenly, I wanted to see him play. I wanted to see Colby play. I guess, for even a few moments, I just wanted to feel close to home again.

Where I live in lower Connecticut, about an hour from the Wesleyan campus, it’s a six-hour drive home — Short enough to be able to make the trip in case of an emergency, long enough to be just enough of a pain-in-the-ass to make it home regularly.

There are times when I miss Maine a lot. My family. My friends. The chosen few who have never left my heart and I think of every day.

Things trigger those memories. A song. A smell. A word.


Those Colby College athletes walking past me did just that.

So, after my squash duties were done, I made the walk back through the Freeman Center and I slipped into a side door of Wesleyan’s gym. I found myself a seat in the back row of the Wesleyan stands.

It was a close game at halftime, the two teams knotted up at 33-33.

Over the course of the second half, Wesleyan proved to be more athletic and the cold-shooting Colby team was no match for the home team.

The final score was 82-67.

Stewart, who finished with 11 points, two rebounds and an assist, came out of the game in the closing seconds. He walked down the bench, hugging each and every teammate, one by one.

It didn’t take me long to realize I just witnessed the last game of his college career.

Representing Bangor and supporting Bangor: I found myself applauding him as he reached the end of his bench.

Stewart played and started in all 24 of Colby’s game this season. He averaged 16.1 points per game.

Over the course of his five-year career — he missed his junior season with an injury and earned a medical redshirt — he had scored more than 1,000 career points.

And, I’ve since discovered that Patrick has a sense of humor.

While doing some research to write this, I discovered a Q&A with Stewart on the Colby athletics website. When asked by the school why he picked Colby, his opened his reply with, “Well besides the appeal of coming south for the warm weather …”

Bangor humor. My humor.

A second-team All-Maine player at Bangor High, Stewart plans on becoming a teacher. If I had to guess, that means he’ll become a coach, too. He’s following in a long line of many great Bangor High athletes if he does that.

Had I stayed in Bangor, and had life gone differently, I might have watched him grow up as a Bangor High player and appreciated him all the more.

Instead, it was a one-shot deal.

One game; one-half of one game, to be more accurate.

But for nearly an hour watching Patrick Stewart represent his parents, his hometown and Colby College, I got to feel a little bit closer to home.

It’s Simple New England Math: 51+12=5

New England Patriots' Tom Brady raises the Vince Lombardi Trophy after defeating the Atlanta Falcons in overtime at the NFL Super Bowl 51 football game Sunday, Feb. 5, 2017, in Houston. The Patriots defeated the Falcons 34-28. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

New England Patriots’ Tom Brady raises the Vince Lombardi Trophy after defeating the Atlanta Falcons in overtime at the NFL Super Bowl 51 football game Sunday, Feb. 5, 2017, in Houston. The Patriots defeated the Falcons 34-28. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

I woke up at four in the morning and my bladder, on automatic pilot, told me what it was time to do.

On the journey back to my bed, though, it dawned on me.

It wasn’t a dream. Last night really happened.

Thomas Edward Patrick Brady Jr., son of Gaylynn and Tom Sr., husband of Gisele, father of John, Vivian and Benjamin, and beloved quarterback of the New England Patriots had done the impossible in Super Bowl 51.

Trailing the Atlanta Falcons by a 28-3 score late in the third quarter, Brady once again led the Patriots to victory.

It was amazing. It was stunning. It was beautiful.

But, really, it was almost beyond description.

How many people must Superman save before it becomes mundane? It doesn’t. After all, he’s Superman.

When you see the greatest of all time perform precision surgery, you don’t go out for popcorn. You sit back. You watch. You enjoy.

And when you’re in The October Weekend of your life you might even let a tear escape down your cheek, knowing you may never witness such a moment again.

Brady is both one of the most beloved and most hated figures in football history. So is Bill Belichick. So is Robert Kraft. So are the New England Patriots.

People will claim the Patriots cheat. People will call Brady a cheater.

Those of us in New England, though, know every single professional team out there is working an angle, trying to gain an edge.

Deflated balls? Brady gets suspended for four games two years after it happens. Carolina and Minnesota had similar situations and nothing happened. Nothing.

Tape-gate? The St. Louis Cardinals baseball club used computer hackers to gain entry into another team’s computer system. (Russia? Election? Sound familiar?) Where was the country-wide outrage there?

People love a winner.

Winners? People detest them with a passion.

And that’s what Brady and the New England Patriots are.

The Patriots have played in nine of the 51 Super Bowls. They have won five Super Bowl titles — with Brady quarterbacking all five.

New York Giants fans hang their hat on the fact that Eli Manning and their team have beaten the Pats twice in Super Bowl games. Of course, all the rungs are filled with New England’s championship rings, so what else are they going to do?

Lose two in order to win five? I’d take that any day of the week. Most fans would.

So we are champions once again. Save for Belichick and Brady, it’s a whole new cast of characters kissing the trophy.

That’s the magic of New England, its coach, its quarterback.

So when they’re down 28-3 and you know it’s over, it’s really not.

I thought it was.

I was ready to congratulate Matt Ryan, the former Boston College quarterback who married a Maine girl and went to Atlanta, on his well-deserved Super Bowl championship.

Then Brady hit James White to the left for 5 yard touchdown. (28-9).

The defense stood tall and Stephen Gostkowski kicked a 33-yard field goal (28-12) early in the fourth quarter.

I kept watching and suddenly Brady connected with Danny Amendola for a 6-yard touchdown. The Patriots then converted the two-point conversion (28-20) and suddenly it was a ball game.

As you watched Atlanta’s defense, it was tired. The Falcons had lost their legs.

If you looked in their eyes, they looked a little bit shell-shocked.

Brady? His eyes told a different story. He had been here before.

He got the ball back and led the Patriots to the game-tying drive. White for the touchdown, Amendola on the two-point conversion.

The game was tied 28-28 and for the first time in 51 games the Super Bowl was headed to overtime.

“Heads,” was the Patriots’ coin-flip call by Matt Slater.

“I always call heads,” said Slater, the son of Hall of Fame lineman Jackie Slater. “It’s a Slater family tradition.”

Winning is a Patriots tradition.

Heads it was.

Game over — 34-28.

It was one of the greatest Super Bowl games in history. And Brady (43-for-62, Super Bowl record 466 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT) was as good as he’s ever been in the second half.

No, it wasn’t a dream. Yet it was.

It was a nightmare first half.

We watched Lady Gaga shine, went to the bathroom and returned for the second half.

And all our dreams came true.

Tom Brady, No. 1 with five Super Bowl titles to his credit.

Tom Brady, No. 1 with five Super Bowl titles to his credit.