The Third Table

02: Roger

Chapter I

THE LAST PORT     By Roger

I arrived at Riggs in the spring of 1966.  I was 20.  Following a suicide attempt two years before, I’d been hospitalized repeatedly; and first the medical authorities then my parents and finally I myself had given up hope.  My first suicide attempt had been at age seven:  I had collected all the blankets and pillows in the house, piled them on  my bed,  burrowed under them and hoped to suffocate during my nap;  I may have lost consciousness or just fallen asleep, but I threw them all off the bed and came to.  My problems were such that it was now understood by everyone that I was going to spend the rest of my life in and out of hospitals fighting  ever more overwhelming delusions and ever deeper despair.  Understood, that is, by everyone but my maternal Grandmother Hilda V. Butler.

I’d been in therapy since age sixteen and my parents, who were going abroad for the year,  told me that they didn’t think I was “improving” and should make a choice to live at Menninger’s, Chestnut Lodge, The Institute for Living or the Austen Riggs Center.  They laid brochures from each on the coffee table like travel folders.   When I chose Riggs — it seemed by far the least regimented of these institutions– my Grandmother startled me by revealing that as a young woman she herself had been a patient at Riggs for five days, and Dr. Riggs had been her doctor.  “And,” she said to clinch the deal, “ I’ve lived by his precepts for the rest of my life.”  (Someone once remarked to me: “well, Roger, your Grandmother is the Edith Sitwell of the Twin Cities”, so this may or may not have been the compliment to Austen Fox Riggs she’d intended.)  She was so sure of the wisdom of my choice that she volunteered to underwrite it.

She was right.   Although my deepest understanding into how I’d gotten to be so sick for so long and my most arduous work for change would come later in other areas with other people, it is undeniably true that had Riggs not been there then I would not be here now.  It  was the last port in  the last long storm of mental illness I was to endure.  It was a safe haven.  (Incidentally, with the exception of six appointments with my friend Joan Churchill — a spring tune-up, as it were — I’ve had no therapy of any kind since leaving Riggs after two and half years.

The change in my circumstances when I moved from Minnesota to Massachusetts could not have been more complete.  In Minneapolis my Brother Carl, riding downtown on the bus one day, saw me walking barefoot through the snow in January.  I was often convinced (among many other convictions) that I was in some desolate, uncanny way responsible for some of the atrocities against the Jews during  World War II.  I often hallucinated, and I was asked to leave home because I was “an embarrassment.”   When I wasn’t hospitalized I tried and failed to keep a series of menial jobs, lived alone or with roommates in cheap apartments and was fed and looked after by long-suffering friends.  There were frequent episodes of self-mutilation, and I had become addicted to barbiturates.  When I was hospitalized my friends were other psychotics.  (One  very reasonably explained that the cars circling the building on the streets below us were there because they “heard” her calling them to Jesus.  Another wept in distress when she told me that she’d accidentally turned her aunt into a turtle.)  I fit right in.

One night  in October of ‘65,  going to bed in the psych ward of Minneapolis General Hospital, I collided with a wall that wasn’t there.  An invisible wall had sprung up in my room and I had slammed into it.  I’d experienced plenty of unexpected things during my sickest periods but never anything like this. I crumpled to the floor and slowly inched my way to bed on my hands and knees.  When I got there I pulled myself up onto my feet like an infant just learning to crawl and clung to the mesh on my window looking out on a pitiless winter night.  I went to Riggs the next spring but it would be another thirteen years before I understood what had happened that night.

Following a disastrous trip to the Caribbean with my family in March — the last we would ever take together as a family — I’d been flown home virtually mute with panic.  I came to Riggs in May straight from the locked ward of yet another hospital.

In the Inn,  I had  a quiet room to myself, plentiful food, and old trees and quiet hills to look out upon.  The atmosphere seemed cheerful and the other patients active and good-natured.  (Practically my first memory is of Mary running out of the nurses’ room giggling and saying:  “it worked, it worked!”  Mary Thorne, one of the nurses, had taught her how to set her hair in ringlets in preparation for a play.)  Some had pets — Beth had a kinkajou, for heaven’s sake.  The patients and staff were overwhelmingly white.  Nobody seemed particularly sick.  I was assigned two patients, Bea and Peter, as sponsors, to teach me the ropes of the Community. Peter and I  were rather shy of one another and didn’t interact much. Bea, possibly having decided I was not a suitable candidate for seduction or provision of drugs (community service like Sponsoring was not otherwise high on her list), took little notice of me after the first day and I settled into a new and quite quiet life.

I was abruptly taken off all medication I was using and then watched for seizures which didn’t happen.    I was expected to attend four psychotherapy sessions a week with Dr. Story, four community meetings, a smaller subgroup meeting and to work each morning at some common work task involving the physical upkeep of the Center.  The rest of my time was my own.  I attended the meetings where I was watchful and silent.  Every morning I worked in the greenhouse or garden where I was usually alone, and  in therapy I told lies.  Nowhere on earth is there less privacy than in a mental hospital–not even in jail.  In the hospital even one’s thoughts are expected to be available for the asking.  So from other patients I mostly hid in the library, and from the staff I hid by fibbing.

Everything had changed, nothing was familiar, and I was weak and scared.   No one said anything when anxiety prevented me from eating, but my appetite dwindled to nothing and I lost quantities of weight.  Edith Breed would get Carnation Instant Breakfast packets from Benjamin’s Pharmacy using her own money and leave them on my bed to tempt me. (Once, sometime later, when I told Ian Story that I considered hope a sin, a forbidden feeling without basis in fact, he told me that for the first couple of months of my stay at Riggs he had called the nurses each night to find out if I was still alive.)  It seemed that the only power left to me was to determine who had access to the inner me, and that would be precisely no one.

The Inn continued to be a cheerful, active place.  The premise at Riggs seemed to be that although the individual parts of the organism–the patients–might be damaged, the organism as a whole–the community–was whole.   Work in the greenhouse under the gentle (and encyclopedic) tutelage of Stan Smith became increasingly interesting, and the other patients continued to be friendly.  Ron asked for my help in ordering the movies we watched on weekends; Jane and I listened to music together; Ellen, Terry, Emily, Turk, Beth, Joanne  and I would simply pal around.  Tina and Kathy daringly suggested that I, who hadn’t yet dared to leave Main Street, join them on a weekend adventure to the coast of Maine that first August, which I did.  It went fine.

Then toward the end of the year a new bookstore opened in town, and the day after it opened I impulsively went over and asked for a job and got it.  This was a cause for disapproval in the Inn.  Never much of a joiner, I would now be absenting myself for half of each day. But I went anyway and soon I was also going first to Boston and later New York for weekends.  I was rapidly and mysteriously getting better.

In the long run it was Riggs the safe haven that did me the most good.  Without the pressures of outside life, my own buoyancy began to assert itself. By the end of my first year, rather than simply  reacting to life  I began to make choices, most of them healthy.  I began to feel creative again.  (I’m a weaver, but Riggs had no looms while I was there, alas.  I’d have spent time in the shop if there had been looms in it.  As it was I went there only to go to theater performances.)  I made close friends, both in the Inn and outside with people who respected my independence.  I became more involved in the life of the Inn.  (Emily once told me:  “when I first got here, Roger, I thought you and Jane owned the place.”)  I stopped lying.

There are many good memories from those times:  Joanne and I walking down to the bridge over the Housatonic;  her beautiful contralto chuckle;  Tina and Turk writing fake menus and posting them outside the dining room;  Jane and I going to the Fox Hollow music festival.  “I’ll go if you think Jean Ritchie will be singing”, I said,  “and I’ll go if you think someone might be singing ‘Amazing Grace’,” Jane said.  We got there in a light rain and as we walked down the hill toward the tent, Jean Ritchie was singing “Amazing Grace.”  There was the lavish seder the entire community prepared for one Passover; the brief tempest caused by the infatuation a patient’s husband had for me; Tina teaching me to drive (I believe I still think of her every time I get behind the wheel); Margie’s delighted laughter when I showed her the excitable leaves of the Sensitive Plant in the greenhouse. Sad and scary memories too:  the patient who’d had a stroke, who laboriously painted evocative pictures of wooden chairs, who went home and shot herself; the young anorexic woman I surprised late one evening in the dining room sitting over a full plate of food with the tears streaming down her face as her therapist screamed at her in desperation  “please eat, you’ll have to be sent away.  They’ll feed you by tube!  Please, please eat!”  She was sent away.

So was Leigh.  Leigh the stiff right-winger in this nest of radicals. Leigh who every night would get dressed in a jacket and tie and go from door to door asking all of the women in the Inn if he could just come in and talk.  Leigh who also never bathed and never flushed the toilet.

There is a glow of something like coziness to many of these memories.  Years later Ron and I met in Boston and went up to Stockbridge for an afternoon.  We walked behind the Inn and both of us were struck by how peaceful it seemed.  When one thinks of the firestorms of feeling that rage through that building, it is gratifying to realize that the feeling that emanates from it is comfort.

I returned to Minnesota in the the fall of 1968.  I became the manager of  a large bookstore and moved to a 170-acre farm forty minutes south of theTwin Cities.  My old friends were happy to see me on my feet and functioning, and I made new ones.  I moved from the bookstore to working with emotionally disturbed children at which I was unusually skillful.  Hy Lippmann, the director of the program and a colleague of Anna Freud’s, encouraged me to make a career of it.  The farm was surrounded by woods and fields and even had its own little lake.  I had a huge garden.  Jane and Ron came for visits.  I went east the next summer to visit  Ian and other friends in the Berkshires. (I didn’t visit the Inn, though.)  It seemed that the world opened up more and more with every passing month.  But  there were two things I didn’t have.  I didn’t have a clue as to how I’d gotten crazy or, scarier still, how I’d gotten well.  Both seemed to have just happened.  Huge chunks (years) of my memory were missing; and I would sometimes feel a a chill of dread even in the midst of my new-found, hard-won success that I’d go crazy again just as inexplicably.  The second thing  was, I didn’t have a boyfriend.

I was sure that life would be better if it was shared.  I crusaded  for love.  I looked high, I looked low.  I looked in the buildings and I looked in the bushes.  I looked everywhere all the time.   Finally one night I gave myself a talking to: “Roger,”  I said to myself, “ you are so damaged and so prickly, your life has been so singular (in  every sense of the word) no one is going to want to marry you.  Can’t you just be grateful for the things you have?”  I  proceeded to enumerate them:  “you have–first and foremost–your sanity.  You don’t know how exactly,  but you’ve got it.  You have wonderful friends, a challenging and rewarding job, and an idyllic place to live.  Get over it.  Quit mooning after the impossible and relax.  Your life is terrific.”  I meant it, and it was.   And I did relax.  A huge weight of disappointment and expectation fell from me, and six months later I met David Voss with whom I lived for the next 20 years.

If I’ve gone from crude ore and base metal to something precious, whatever value I have or  have acquired was refined in the crucible of that marriage.  That was where I grew up.  That was where I  learned about trust, compromise, generosity, and patience.  That was where I learned how short life is and how much fun it is.  That’s where I learned that I was loveable and able to love.  That’s where I learned who I am. That began in 1970.

David was seven years older than I and living with someone else. He was an artistic multiple talent:  dancer, composer, choreographer and pianist.  He was also a teacher of both music and dance technique and had been a choirmaster.  A child prodigy, he had absolute pitch; had played the piano (played it–not messed around on it)  the first time he encountered one  at age six in a funeral  parlor; and composed his first opera at the age of nine.  We met backstage after a performance he was in of the company he had helped to found in the early 60’s, the Minnesota Dance Theatre.  He was so charming, so talented, so sweetly attractive that I paid no attention to him at  all, never dreaming he’d feel the same way about me.  It took months and many other meetings before I got the picture.  Once I’d gotten it our history together speeded up and he had moved out to the farm by Thanksgiving.  Two things nearly derailed us at the beginning.  His lover Frank, a desperately unhappy man with whom he’d lived for several years, hanged himself when David left him.  Less shocking but more of a threat was my absence for the seven months I lived in  a remote cabin on the west coast of Vancouver Island–something I’d wanted to do for years.  I was writing a book–two books actually, an embarassing novel and quite a good natural history of the coastal Pacific Northwest (neither was ever published)–and when they were completed David joined me there, having just returned from dancing at the Spoleto festival.

We called that time our honeymoon and were never separated by more than a few days again. In my fifty years I’ve known a number of happy marriages.  They aren’t uncommon.   But of all of them ours was the happiest.  This isn’t sentimental hindsight, it’s fact.  We were at the end of the bell-shaped curve of contentment together.  Corny as it  sounds, we loved each other more every day.  Ours was the fire at which others warmed themselves.  I missed him when he went out of the room; and he told me that when he performed, the house was full  even if I was the only person in the audience. David was convinced of my enduring sanity long before I was. With his never wavering support around me, I set out to figure out what had gone wrong with me and why.

This began with a complete overhaul of my relationship with my parents who, although delighted to have me back and very fond of David, were fearful.  How could they not be?  I’d been a senstive kid from the start.  That was both a curse and a blessing.  But “sensitive”  had quickly become “troubled” and  they blamed themselves.  Both  my parents came from horrendously destructive backgrounds, and neither of them had had the courage it takes to turn and look  that squarely in the face.  They felt that their own inadequacies were taking a toll on their children, as of course they were.  For my part I wanted to let them off the hook.  So one birthday–I was almost 30, I think–I called them up and and said that I was glad I’d been born, and if I had to do it over again I would; that I was glad they were my parents and if I’d gotten to choose my parents I’d have chosen them; that I loved them.

Although nothing could be done about the past but accept it, we could go on less shy of one another and more confiding.  As my relationship with my parents grew stronger, their own marriage was growing steadily weaker.  They lived to see their children grown up, fulfilled, in loving relationships.  I like to think that this gave them both some solid comfort during frequently comfortless times.  I hope this particularly for my mother, who had become an alcoholic.  Her drinking had worsened slowly over the years and with it their once happy marriage had eroded into separate beds, long silences and bickering.  Both of them acknowledged this to their kids but both of them felt powerless to do anything about it.

In the spring of 1979 my father asked Carl and me to lunch.  He wanted us to know that he was seeing another woman, that he was happier than he’d been in a long time, that even if Mom’s drinking stopped and peace was restored he had no intention of ending this new relationship.  Appropos Mom’s drinking,  he said that recent blood tests indicated that she was suffering from  liver damage.  I said that although I wished him happiness in his new relationship it was clear to me that it had begun only because his homelife was unhappy.  It was predicated on his wife’s illness, not on her bad behavior, and she too deserved a second chance at happiness.  As her husband, having promised to love, honor and  cherish her through sickness and health he had an obligation to see that she received treatment.  He agreed, said he would talk to experts in the field and would let us know how he intended to proceed.

Early in September he called us again and said that he wanted us to come with him to confront Mom with our concerns and to ask her to get professional evaluation.  He would remain silent, he said, because our talking to her would be more persuasive.  She didn’t feel the bitterness and disappointment toward us that she did toward him.  Eager to  help her, eager to see this ghastly spell broken, we agreed, and on September 11th we went to talk to her.  Carl was kind and reasonable, I was blunt, Dad was silent.  Mom looked stricken.  She said she would have to think about what we were asking her to do.  That night she killed herself.

The forces at work in my parents’ lives–the conflicts, if you will–were too great for any child.  They were too great for my parents, and I saw  them clearly. It is to their great and lasting credit that although our parents didn’t have the courage or stamina they needed to change what they could of their own lives, they gave courage and stamina and a great deal more to their children.  I saw that too.

Lying in bed at four in the morning thinking about my Mother,  I knew what that invisible wall in the closed hospital before Riggs had been all about.  At that moment, cowering on the cracked linoleum floor of that  cold room I had made my choice.  Sink or swim, night or day, live or die.  I had stopped, turned, rolled up my  sleeves and said “Yes.”  My poor litle psyche had simply slammed down hard and said:  “well, fine, but bit by bit, not all at once like a volcano, thank you.”  So it was also no wonder that I began to hit my stride so fast when I got to Riggs and the pressures of everyday life were off, and I was in a community dedicated to being well.

It is ironic–even grotesque–that although I will always wish I had behaved differently on the day we confronted my mother about her drinking; although I will always wish I hadn’t gone over there that day at all and instead had told Dad to fight his own battles; although I will, in short, always feel that in some way I killed my mother–it took her death for me to understand my life.  That was her last gift–of many gifts–to me.

I woke David up and said:  “Listen, listen!  Does this make sense?”  And then proceeded to talk nonstop as piece after piece of the puzzle flew into place. For a year or so after that extraordinary night my lost memories came back.  I felt like a paralyzed person being given back the full use of my limbs.

The following summer my father remarried and at about the same time David went out to the west coast to see if there was work for him there.  Repeatedly promised promotion and opportunities to choreograph at the Minnesota Dance Theatre, the promises were repeatedly broken.  He hadn’t been asked to write an important piece of music in years and he’d retired from performing at the age of 40.  He felt he was trapped and stagnating.

In the meantime my interest in tropical horticulture, particularly in orchids and palms, had burgeoned.  On the local level I had achieved some prominence as a grower and as a lecturer.  I had left working with children to devote my time to David and to plants.  Minnesota’s climate puts stringent limits on what anyone there can do in the field of horticulture, particularly tropical horticulture, and I too felt that I’d gone about as far as I could.  A move to the west coast seemed like a good way to give us both some more of what we wanted.

David was gone a week.  One of his appointments was at UCLA.  While in Los Angeles, he went to the baths.  Our sexual adventures with other people were infrequent and virtually always what would later come to be called “safe.”  But that evening was different.  The man David met in L.A.  was charming and attractive and found David delightful.  They spent the whole night together.  David would say later almost in wonder:  “I can still see his face.”  David came home buoyed up by the pleasures and promises of the trip.  What we could not know was that he had also been infected with HIV.

It certainly wasn’t long after that that the first news of what was then called G.R.I.D. began to reach us.  I don’t know how or why, but even when there had been only a few cases reported both of us knew it was serious.  We decided no more extra-curricular sex.  Back then even kissing was considered suspect.  We became ultra cautious.  But it  was too late.  In December of 1985 we took the blood test.  In January of 1986 we got the results.  I was negative.  David was positive. Further tests indicated that his immune system was already seriously compromised.  We sat in the car on that bitter day and talked.  We knew that everything had changed as of that moment.  Plans would have to be  altered, put on hold or discarded completely. No one would be told (David wasn’t ashamed of the infection; he just didn’t want to be treated any differently.)  I said:  “Look, this is just like everything else.  Its ours. This is our virus.  You deal with the physical stuff and I’ll deal with everything else.”

In 1983 we’d made a trip to New Zealand where David had been a sensation as a teacher and where I had had a wonderful time meeting with plant people.  The country felt so right to us that we had formulated a plan to return in September of ‘86 and to include a visit to Australia as well.  We were going to go for four months and make active plans to emigrate.

Well, we knew now that we wouldn’t be emigrating.  But we went ahead with the trip and it was the headiest four months either of us had ever known.  We went from success to success, happiness to happiness.  I gave two well-attended lectures in Sydney, and David was offered jobs in both Canberra and Melbourne.  In Auckland David taught as if his life depended on it–which it did.  People were screaming with excitement at the ends of his classes, pounding their feet on the floor, clapping, chanting his name.  Hardly a day passed that we didn’t make an important new friend.  On our first trip to New Zealand we’d rented a car and driven north to the Hokianga Harbor, a remote spot few New Zealanders even know about.  Coming over the brow of a hill we’d stopped the car transfixed by the view–this in a country of one jaw-dropping view after another.  We’d gotten out of the car and looked out over what had seemed the most beautiful place either of us had ever seen.  A little flock of parrots had screeched by.  We had turned to each other and said simultaneously:  “We’re home.”  Now we went back up there knowing that we’d probably never see it together again.  Of course, heartbreakingly, it was even more beautiful than before.

David would say from that time forward that he had reached the pinnacle of his career on that trip. We would never know such sustained happiness again.

When we returned to Minnesota at the beginning of ‘87 David resigned from the Minnesota Dance Theatre and went to work full time in the Dance and Theatre department at the University of Minnesota where, with death at his heels, he embarked on a veritable orgy of creativity.  He completed his masters degree.  He wrote an opera.  He taught music and dance technique.   He directed the company of student dancers.  He choreographed a dozen major works.  Elsewhere he worked out in the gym and, implausibly, began to gain weight at home.  He discovered a totally unsuspected love of baking and became incredibly skilled.  Weekends were devoted to cake and friendship.  Our house had never been so full of laughter.

My grandmother and then David’s mother died (his father had died years before) and left us sizeable bequests.  What could have been disasters of unhappiness were blessings.  For the first time we could stop pinching pennies.  We paid off the house and built a greenhouse.  We bought David illegal and costly drugs.  Miraculously he stayed well and without symptoms.  As I’ve mentioned, Ian had asked me once years before what I thought about sin (he’d been raised in an extremely straightlaced household) and I had said that the only sin I could conceive of was the sin of hope.  David and I dared to hope.  It couldn’t last, and  in 1990 his health plummeted.  People were openly asking questions now because he looked so gaunt. He spoke first to Carl and Peggy and their  respective lovers Jim Watkins and Peggy Nelson.  He called a meeting of the faculty and students and told them that he was sick.  At the end of the meeting he said:  “I wish you all had a Roger.”

The last year of David’s life was unspeakable.  It was an endless, harrowing hell with brief periods of calm and one glorious two month respite when one of his experi-mental drugs proved spectacularly effective against the most pernicious of his infections  (M.A.C.)    Also, during that period , the University honored him with a concert of his own choreography danced by students and friends.  People came from as far away as Amsterdam for it.   But that drug couldn’t help with his other infections.  He had weekly injections directly into his eyes to slow the C.M.V. that was blinding him.  The drugs themselves caused murderous side effects like neuropathy in his feet.  He would say that the greatest pain he ever suffered was taking off his socks.  I learned to give him his shots and install his IVs.  I got him enough clandestine barbiturates that he could kill himself when he finally felt he’d had enough.  Once in tears I begged him to  use it.  He couldn’t walk. He was throwing up constantly.  “No,” he said, “not as long as I can see your face.”  Despite all of this, confined to a wheelchair, exhausted,  needing constant attention, he worked full time until three weeks before his death. Determined to make a tidy end  to his work, he administered his spring quarter music final and then I drove him home for the last time.

David died at home, in my arms where he belonged, on June 23rd, 1991, at five in the afternoon.  We had meant to be together always.  When his ashes were returned to me from the crematorium, I ate them so that we always  would be.

Six months later, in a freakish reaction to a usually innocuous surgical procedure, my father died.  He’d had a second, successful grab at happiness, and during those last years of his life he and I had grown much closer and cozier together.  He hadn’t fled when David died but actively sought to comfort me even though my numb grief was hard for him to bear.  When he died I was again cast adrift, more at sea than anytime since the mid-60’s.

For over a year I concentrated.  Concentrated at first in just getting through the hours; concentrated on attending to  the house, the plants, the mail, the legal and tax problems  that these two deaths created; concentrated on seeing friends, going to concerts, eating.  I lost 40 pounds, and friends took to feeding me again.

At last David’s first yahrzeit came and went.  Things began to repeat.  Things I’d done alone.  I started dating.  (Whoever invented dating ought to have been taken out and shot.  What a demeaning activity it can be!)  I had some sweet experiences and some ludicrous ones.  I wasn’t  clumsy.  I did OK.  I tried not to hope.

But maybe the only sin is not to hope. Hope had become acceptable to me, even automatic.  I knew better than most that dreams really do come true.  So when lightening struck a second time, I was standing out in the storm waiting for it, encouraging it.

I met Eric Anderson in the fall of ‘92 and by the summer of ‘93 we’d fallen into step together.  He’s  a writer, a playwright and an actor.  His first great love had died just two months before David.  We were cautious, two middle-aged men with complicated pasts.  We went slowly.  Very slowly.  We spent some afternoons together, then some evenings.  Then a night now and then, and a weekend.  We began working together as  phone counselors on a gay and lesbian hotline.  This has proven so successful for me that I’ve now become an assistant superviser there. We took a trip to Seattle to see Carl and Jim.  We went to Hawaii.  The next Thanksgiving he took me home to meet his family and some old friends.  In June of ‘94  he came with me to the Riggs reunion to meet some of mine.

It was a little like what I imagine a college reunion to be like.  I heard about old friends and made some new ones.  The atmosphere was peaceful and optimistic.  I was happy to see familiar places and people after a long absence.  I was sad to hear more details of Ian’s death.  (AIDS touches everybody differently and everybody the same.)  I was sorry to learn that the common work program had been abandoned and the theatre program.  I was sorry to see that the community is still overwhelmingly white.  I was interested to hear that medication is used regularly now  and  that stays are usually months instead of years (because of meds, because of insurance restrictions).  I was happy that Eric liked the Berkshires and felt comfortable at Riggs.  I was sorry not to be able to show him inside my old room and the view out into the trees that had comforted me nearly thirty years before.  It was an important and pleasant time.  We stayed for a short while and then it was time to move on.

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