blogging, Blogs, Lost in a Drunken Banquet of Static, Rio Grande, South Texas, Tim L O'Brien, Tim O'Brien, turning 50
Funny how life can be summarized around a campfire.
We had all gathered for a long and relaxing weekend. Each of us had traveled far to reach our point of destination; from different directions we all arrived taking a different path, brought together to celebrate a birthday. A member of the group had reached the half-century mark.
We stood around the campfire ring, huddled close to its warmth as the cold, nighttime air surrounded us. We were an odd collection of individuals. Two of us had been married several times. One was married and currently divorced. Two members of the group had yet to marry. Sadly, only one of us had found success in marriage, and they just celebrated their 25th anniversary.
Standing around the campfire that night was a longhaired defense attorney, a Lieutenant in the Constables office and an 18-year veteran of serving and protecting the citizens of Houston, Texas. There was an environment demolition specialist, a Project Manager for large companies, a sports photographer, a nursing home administrator and an observer of life, me, the writer. For our chosen professions, we had absolutely nothing in common. Yet, our time together has exceeded three decades. Two of us went back to grade school.
The moon was full on the first night of our gathering, as we stood mesmerized by the orange dancing flames. The tales told on that first of three nights were just as full. The cold beers and whiskey flowed effortlessly that night. The later the hour – the taller the tales.
The comedian in the group – the defense attorney – sent the woman scrambling into the house following a rather descriptive and crude joke that had the rest of us shedding tears as we laughed. It wasn’t long before our comedian began to boast of the vasectomy of all vasectomy stories.
For three nights and four days this continued.
We gave updates on our lives, about our kids and the what-was-happening-now in our work careers. We shared joyous tales of personal triumphs along with a few about the tragedies that life can throw you.
We shared more than a few jokes, told plenty of tall tales about the shenanigans of our youth. It was hard to believe we ever got away with those things, and somehow, we were never caught. We sure weren’t smart enough back then to get away with it. We were lucky, I guess.
We had gathered on a ranch in South Texas. There was a lot of history on the place. When the ranch owner was a young boy, he came to the United States by ocean liner following World War II. He fell in love with South Texas and dreamed of becoming a cowboy and owning a ranch. Through his hard work and high-risk profession, he achieved his goal, and it was there we had come together.
On the second evening of the trip, we all stood on a wooden deck built on a bluff overlooking the Rio Grande River and Mexico. It was known as the “Happy Hour” deck. With cold beers and drinks in our hands, we watched a beautiful sunset. We all had much to be thankful for, but silently we gave thanks for standing on this side of the river.
With more than a few grey hairs and wrinkles across our faces, we shared our time together.
At dinner, we all sat at the large table, treated to food fit for kings. The conversations continued and soon we were back outside by the fire ring another mesquite smoke-filled night awaiting us.
And so on into the night we went.
The hour drew late as the remainder of our time together drew short. More logs were added to the fire as the tales continued. The ice chests grew empty, the trash cans grew full. There, we all stood, listening to each other swap stories about life. We were surrounded by 17,000 acres. A ranch that came together by a man’s childhood dream. For as Father Time reminds us that life is worth living, dreams can come true, and you are never too old to stop dreaming.
And on that last night we all stumbled away from the campfire trying to find our way for a place to lay down.
Life can be so easily explained sometimes.
Great story Tim…
I loved your fireside story. Times like that are to be remembered.
Hope you have 50 more years.
Alicia Street said:
Nice post, Tim. Poignant and true.
Chris Langley said:
Perhaps our world leaders, congress, etc., could take a lesson from this. A nice fire, and even a few beers, might serve as a great setting to “solve the world’s problems.
Enjoyed the story. (Reading it, and living it)
Dave Davis said:
Well done Tim. A perfect piece on a very special place. Great title too!
Gorgeous story. So vivid! It’s the way life used to be lived.
Mary Cook said:
Great story – I wish I could of been there! Who was the defense attorney?
coleen patrick said:
Really nice post Tim. Thanks for sharing!!
And thanks for your comments on my site, the support is appreciated!
August McLaughlin said:
I feel as though I enjoyed the campfire with you all! Nicely done, Tim.
Tim this is a very nice post. Reminders that we are all different, yet all the same. I’m glad you have those beautiful memories. Nothing like a campfire to bring us close to nature and each other. I hope you have many more opportunities to come together and celebrate life!
w/a Jansen Schmidt
Sheila Seabrook said:
The stories and memories we share with our closest friends are so very precious. Thanks for giving us a view of campfire tales, Tim. 🙂
Bill Agnew said:
Tim, great summary of a great weekend. Thanks for letting me be a part of it and also thanks for not sharing everything! We need to all do it again. Hope you had a great birthday.
Great campfire stories. Time with our close friends is precious indeed.
Karen McFarland said:
Hey old man, I mean Tim, glad you’re back!
Loved your post and great writing! Like August, I felt like i was right there with you.
What a wonderful memory was made for all. Nights warmed by a campfire, days gazing out at the lazy river.
But what I want to know is, where were the marshmallows?
Debra Kristi said:
Great story Tim. And yes, it’s wonderful how it was all summarized around the campfire. Magical times with friends.
Tameri Etherton said:
Gorgeous place and a wonderful shared moment with you and your friends.
Louise Behiel said:
You’ve created a beautiful picture, Tim of a special time with your friends. Thank you for sharing something so intimate with us.
Caerlynn Nash said:
Great story. Thanks for sharing.
The memories around a campfire. Simple and precious times.
We gather regularly in the summer around one cottage campfire or another. A few beers, some great laughs, some treasured memories, and sometimes some guitar songs. It has also become a New Year’s Eve tradition for us, even in the snow and chilly weather. Good times.
Tom (Aquatom1968) said:
I enjoyed reading this too, Tim, thanks for linking to it on Susie’s blog!