It was the American middle class. No one’s house cost more than two or three year’s salary, and I doubt the spread in annual wages (except for the osteopath) exceeded more than five thousand dollars. And other than the doctor (who made house calls), the store managers, the minister, the salesman, and the banker, everyone belonged to a union. That meant they worked a forty-hour week, had the entire weekend off (plus two to four weeks’ paid vacation in the summer), comprehensive medical benefits, and job security. In return for all that, the country became the most productive in the world and in our little neighborhood it meant your furnace was always working, your kids could be dropped off at the neighbors without notice, you could run next door anytime to borrow a half-dozen eggs, and the doors to all the homes were never locked — because who would need to steal anything if they already had all that they needed?
Well, you could rejuvenate a man like a tree. Cut off bad memories of him, scrape off all pain, all disappointments, like dead tissue; cut off mistakes, stupid decisions, mistakes, x-ray thoughts. And that it could be done after each winter so that the new year could come clean and innocent. We know—one of the following winters will kill us.
In this one life, this one life that you have to live, you must embrace every moment that creeps into your existence. You must feel every possible emotion to realize you’re really alive, you’re really living. If you build walls and you hide behind them in fear, you’re not embracing moments, you’re not actually living.