Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The Rick, the Rink, and the Rock

The gray sky drops rain on my nose and eyelashes as I walk home from work.

As I mentioned a couple weeks ago, the AMHL photographer and I have moved. We’re closer to the rink, and I’m closer to work; the water pressure is better here than in the old place; and we have more space.

But rounding the corner, the music from my iPod shuffles the song deck to Great Big Sea’s “Shine Right Through Me.”

These days I feel a change, all the patterns rearranged

The rain makes me gloomy because I miss my neighbor Rick.

Before we moved away, we used to talk hockey and share dreams of building a back yard rink. I got to watch him mow the lawn (after he’d decline my feeble offers to help with that chore) behind the two-family dwelling we shared for more than five years. I miss Rick talking about his hockey days at St. Mark’s School in Southborough, MA; the way my buddy used to regularly inform me of how words like Beukeboom sound when spelled backwards: Moobekueb; and how he used to tell me that if he ever had a band, he’d name it Hermie and the Recalcitrant Warts. I miss writing the AMHL headlines on his morning newspaper. I miss being perplexed by his trivia questions like, “What kind of jacket did Derek Sanderson used to wear?” (Nehru); and I miss listening to his questions about downloading music onto his iPod.

Talking about music, the Bruins, the AMHL, the backyard rink—those days are all but gone.

Our former landlords—great people who treated us well, especially when, in 2001, they lowered our rent after learning we had both been laid off—had difficulty telling us they needed to give our place to a family member.

So now, almost a week after leaving Rick with a few parting gifts—the instructions to the lawnmower we left in his garage, and some old hockey sticks I left on the regulation hockey goal we’ll use someday use on the yet-to-be-built backyard rink—my wife and I are settling into our new two-family rental.

Our new neighbor is cool, but she can’t replace the Rick.

Sure, I have lots to be grateful for: my AMHL Avalanche team is 1–0 this season, my hockey gear is ready for tomorrow’s game against the Stars, and my wife and my wife and I are planning a weeklong trip in Newfoundland (aka, "The Rock"). My iPod works. Life is good.

I realize I’ve been blessed to have Rick as my pal. He’s only five miles away or a phone call or an e-mail away, after all. It’s not the same as having him next door, but he can still call us about his iPod.

As I approach the new place, Newfoundland’s Great Big Sea reminds me, “anything worth having is worth some sacrifice…half an hour of sunshine is worth a week of rain.