By Paul Wein
For the past eight days that I have been here in Juneau, Alaska – I have lived an entirely different life. I have stayed in a different house, driven in a different car through a different neighborhood, made different friends – and have had absolutely no contact with my life back home with the exception of a few phone calls. And now, despite the fact that I know my way around this town, the fact that I still have places to see and things I want to do here – and despite the wonderful friendships I have made during my stay here – it’s time to go in less then twenty-four hours.
I have been on many vacations in my life. I have been to London, North Carolina, Florida, Arizona, Hilton Head, South Carolina – and most recently – Colorado. But this vacation is the one that has been the best of them all for so many different reasons.
For one thing, this vacation provided me with the opportunity to step completely out of my life and look at it from the outside. In doing so, I have realized that while I may have a pretty amazing life – it can be better. If I straighten out a few aspects of my life that need a little tweaking – my life will be that much better.
Another thing this vacation has shown me is that I really need to start appreciating the life I have built for myself. It seems that everyone I meet is impressed and excited about my life more then I am. Between my jobs, my home, my friends, my hobbies, my extra curricular activities – and my girlfriend – I think it’s time I start appreciating what I have as much as everyone else does. After all – I’m the one that’s living it.
This vacation also provided me with the ability to live in a twenty-four hour living postcard. From the majestic snow covered mountains, to the rushing waterfalls, to the dense forests – to the almost twenty hour sunlit days – I feel as if I am in the most beautiful place on Earth – and now I have to go back to skyscrapers, traffic jams – and construction.
But of all the things I have gained from this vacation – I have gained one of the greatest and most pure friendships I have ever experienced. Montel, from the moment we first talked to each other, gave the impression of a person who would be someone that would make a very valuable friend. For the past six months, we have spent time on the telephone telling each other about our lives, making each other laugh – and getting to know each other as people. And since I have been here – we have been able to take the friendship we fostered for the past six months and experience our friendship in person for the first time. To be able to see each other smile, watch South Park together – and give each other a friendly hug – has only made this friendship stronger – and forever cemented our friendship as a lifelong one.
It seemed that whatever we did during this week – from watching the Juneau waterfalls from the Glory Hole at Sandy Beach, to catching some “double uglys” in North Douglas, to having some Alaskan Beer at the Alaskan Hotel & Bar as we listened to “Open Mic Night” – to sitting side by side and watching a brand new episode of the show that brought us together – I’ve loved these days.
But now those days are over – because at 8:06am tomorrow morning – I take off for home.
As I leave Alaska, I feel I am not only leaving a person who enjoyed an excellent vacation – I am leaving a better man. I leave here with a renewed sense of appreciation for both life in general – and my life as a whole. I leave here with a desire to take the parts of my life that need fixing and fix them. I leave here with goals that will improve my life and hopefully bring me greater success, recognition – and income. I leave here with a greater respect for this planet and the other creatures that inhabit it – and most importantly – I leave here having met and spent time with an old friend that I have just met – and will hopefully meet again.
I’ve loved these days.
“Now, we take our time, so nonchalant,
and spend our nights, so bon vivant.
We dress our days in silken robes,
the money comes, the money goes.
We know it’s all a passing phase.
We light our lamps for atmosphere,
and hang our hopes on chandeliers.
We’re going wrong, we’re gaining weight,
we’re sleeping long, and far too late.
And so it’s time to change our ways,
but I’ve loved these days.
Now as we indulge in things refined,
we hide our hearts from harder times.
A string of pearls, a foreign car.
Oh, we can only go so far, on caviar and Cabernet.
We drown our doubts in dry champagne,
and soothe our souls with fine cocaine.
I don’t know why I even care.
We get so high and get nowhere.
We’ll have to change our jaded ways,
but I’ve loved these days.
So before we end, and then begin,
we’ll drink a toast to how it’s been.
A few more hours to be complete,
a few more nights on satin sheets,
a few more times that I can say,
I’ve loved these days.”
Billy Joel – I’ve Loved These Days