Me, Who I Am - (warning: very long)!
I. – INTRODUCTION:
I lived with an emotionally isolated, lonely spirit until I was 67 ½ years old. At that time my marriage had a major hiccup – and seemingly coincidentally, I started finally to “grow up” in important ways.
I had previously done some very good things, but rarely could I sustain my efforts. I remained alone – and hurting. Subsequently I’ve struggled, but also grown in most important ways.
Circa 2014-2015 – for example – my therapist and I discussed me getting involved in one volunteer activity, to take up some of my time (of which I had a lot).
Now in 2021 – I’m in multiple men’s groups, working to start what I hope will be an important national effort – towards helping white men deal with our racism (www.CaringWhiteMen.org) and sexism constructively, I’m doing significant mutual aid work, writing two blogs (www.GeorgesWorldOnTheWater.blogspot.com and www.WorkingTowardsEndingRacism.blogspot.com, am a volunteer in Braver Angels (www.BraverAngels.org), an active mutual aid support workers, as well as various other things.
More importantly, now I’m learning to grow from my heart! I’m starting to build meaningful ties to other men, for the first time in my life as well as seriously attempting the challenging work of (finally) becoming a good, loving partner.
I never bonded with either of my parents, nor with anyone
else. I remember my mother telling me
of how at age four I’d had a tough time in my pre-school. Each morning I was the first boy there. As other boys arrived, they’d take “my”
toys away from me.
My mother told me that they wanted me to go to a different pre-school. They left me there, when I resisted the idea of a change.
I, a four year old, was left as the “ultimate authority”. Is any wonder that I was friendless through nearly all of my childhood? I was a big, clumsy kid, who loved sports (in a family where sports were not valued). Kickball at recess meant always was being the last boy chosen (to my shame). Three boys, two years older than me, consistently beat me up, when I ran into them. (I learned as an adult that one had been regularly beaten by his father.)
Starting either in second (or faintly possibly) the third grade, I had my own season basketball ticket for Purdue (men’s) basketball games. I walked (alone) 7/10th of a mile to the (all night) games each season, a huge highlight of my childhood.
Much more significant was the endless lonely time playing alone on the playground of Morton School, across the street from our home. One highlight, which stands out to this day, is a two on two football game. I blocked a punt. It was quite painful, but I was so proud!
We were a peculiar family! Dad didn’t allow us to have tv, wanting us to read a lot. Squirt guns weren’t allowed, because they were guns. In an upper-middle class, university town, we lived on hand-me-downs and “cheap” clothes. Most others got new clothes with each new season.
Sabbath dinner (Friday evening) was the only meal of the week where we couldn’t read at the table. Is it any wonder that our conversations were all focused upon intellectual debates, rather than feelings. We learned about Judaism from our father. Everything was focused upon his schedule. Little or no attention was paid to our emotional needs. Dad rode a bicycle to work each (non-winter) day. He never took the time to go on a bicyle ride with me.
Dad was a math professor. I wasn’t much of a student, except in arithmetic. He was a proud person. He took us to a Civil Rights March in Lafayette, Indiana when I was 10 or 11 in 1961 or 1962. He brought the idea of yearly Friends of the Library used book sale to West Lafayette (from Ann Arbor, where I was born). He was always seeking the best alternative magazine to subscribe to. He never relied upon the local, biased, conservative newspaper, having one alternate source all the time.
Dad was a good person, but also had his limitations. During seventh grade his cancer came out of remission and he died in his sleep Friday, November 13th, 1964 – when I was 13 years old.
When my father died, I had just begun listening to rock-n-roll music, having entered my “teenage rebellion”. I acted “like a man” and didn’t cry. For the next 18 years I resisted crying. I always saying to myself: “How does this compare with the loss of my father”. I had no one to confront my foolishness, listen to me, and help me grow emotionally.
Neither of my parents ever attended any of my two years of little league career games. My mother never attended a single track or cross country meet (or end of season high school banquet). I see parents of prospective, new and graduating Loyola students (nearby) frequently with their children. Prior to college and during my four years at The University of Wisconsin, my mother never came to Madison once.
After my father’s death, superficially I did much better. My school grades climbed through high school. I lettered in my third year of running, as a junior, in both track and cross country. I played in the band, orchestra and later the dance band.
I took high school economics in summer school after my freshman year. With my teacher’s encouragement, I took Purdue economics classes over the succeeding two years with university sophomores, and then juniors.
Senior year I began smoking “weed”, growing my first (scraggly) beard and letting my hair grow long. What most people didn’t know about “hippie George” was that I was delivering newspapers at Purdue early mornings seven days a week, (first semester I worked in the high school cafeteria during lunch hours), was practicing my French horn 90 minutes each day, played in the Lafayette Symphony, and was (struggling) taking introductory accelerated calculus at Purdue.
In January of 1969, I dropped band, orchestra and dance band. I had just been the second chair (of eight after auditioning) in a band clinic at Purdue. Al G. Wright, the Purdue Band Director, came over to me, having not heard me play a single note and said to me: “They let YOU look like that at West Lafayette High School!” which I took as a put-down. He said two additional derogatory things, while I remained silent. Coincidentally, mysteriously, I was given the option of shaving my beard off and having my hair cut short, the following Monday when I returned to high school.
Because it was cheaper (with a faculty dependent discount) to be a full-time Purdue student, than taking two college classes, I took three classes at Purdue my final semester of high school, having only accelerated senior English at my high school the first period each weekday morning. One morning while walking on Purdue’s campus in January, 1969, a fellow male student, got my attention quite readily (again silencing me). Seeing my long hair and beard, he said: “God bless napalm!”. Those words were symbolic to me of how I looked at things. I as firmly “anti-Indiana”. I totally lacked any positive identity. I had no real friendships with the fellow “leftists” I hung out with at Purdue.
I also began seeing a lot of incredible live music then. In the last week of December of 1968, I got drunk for the first time seeing Janis Joplin at Northwestern University, February, 1969 was The Grateful Dead (Jerry Garcia reportedly later said [with literal intent] that the Purdue audience was the “deadest” audience they had ever played for. In May of 1969, having never heard of them, I went with friends to see Led Zeppelin on their first American tour. In June I went to Indianapolis to see Jimi Hendrix – the 2nd bill was CTA (later Chicago). Later in the Summer of 1969, I went to the Atlantic City Pop Festival, I was going to go to the first Ann Arbor Blues Festival, but at the last minute took an opportunity to Woodstock, which was an amazing experience for me.
I had first had sex (twice I think) that summer with an older young woman. That was disappointing and isolating. We were partnered for perhaps two days. I felt no bond with my partner. I ejaculated prematurely both times. “Sex” as simply a little cuddling and basic intercourse.
I applied for conscientious objector status in May, 1969, when I turned 18. I was rejected, and requested a draft board appearance. I got a short haircut and shaved off my beard for the (at first unsuccessful) appearance. That same afternoon, I was off on the Greyhound bus to Madison for college.
I. – UNIVERSITY YEARS
I was totally, totally lost at The University of Wisconsin! I sought mental health help several weeks after my arrival. Other students seemed to bond with each other, while I felt totally alone. I remember once while eating in the dorm cafeteria, a female student joined the table I sat at (alone). Neither of us said a word to each other.
All during my first year in Madison, I alternated my approach each day. On the even numbered days, I’d try (desperately) to socialize with others. The next day I’d totally withdraw, staying away from others. The following summer, while my mother and brother went to California, I had a lonely summer at home. I had a (summer) girlfriend, but through misunderstanding her cues, never asked her about having sex until our last day together.
I transferred (at the last minute) to Macalester College, where my brother began college that fall. I was back at the mental health clinic very quickly. Blues music was my passion, having just attended the second Ann Arbor Blues Festival.
I transferred back to Madison, after half a year in St. Paul. Things were a little better, but I was still very isolated emotionally. I became totally manic while in summer school in Madison in the Summer of 1971. I might be sleepless one night, and then “crash” and sleep four hours of solid sleep the next night (continuing a similar pattern day after day). I alienated others, lost weight, and was isolated in a new way. I was essentially “a speed freak”, but I wasn’t taking “the upper”.
Medication at UW that fall got me out of the manic state, so I was simply depressed. I had switched majors from psychology to Elementary Education. My new major professor, a brilliant man, saw my potential. I never met my potential!
When I loved a class, I worked very, very hard at it. Most of the time though I was bored. Then I walked out of my classes. I was constantly getting bailed out by the Assistant Dean, after professors complained about my behavior..
First semester senior year, I signed up for “Math for Elementary School Teachers” (a mandatory class meant to ensure that elementary school teachers had a basic understanding of math, so they could successfully teach it). I spoke for perhaps 5-10 minutes after the first class with the teacher, a teaching assistant, seeking an alternative to attending the class.
He listened to my appeal to take the class independent study. He saw through me 100%! He confronted my B.S. - the one and only time someone did that with me - over many, many years of my life.
He said that he thought that I had learned to get by on my brains, and had never learned to learn. He told me I could either attend the class as a regular student, or master a (small) book that he showed me. I would only have to answer his questions about the lessons of the book.
The best choice was obvious! He proved his perceptiveness by how I handled this class! I waited until several weeks before the end of the semester (my pattern in most classes) and then tried to cram the book’s lessons. I couldn’t do it. I requested and he gave me an incomplete.
During my final undergraduate semester, I was in a paid internship student teaching the 6th grade at the most diverse Madison elementary school. I was emotionally “not there” and they fired me after a few weeks there.. Again- I repeated the same pattern in my math class, and couldn’t handle the book.
The Education School leadership wanted me “out”. They let me graduate, with the understanding that if I wanted to be certified to teach, I’d need to re-take the graduation requirement they now waived.
I stayed in Madison after graduation, hoping to get back with my last (brief) girl friend. . She had helped me in one important way. For the first time, I had confidence in our sex. “Sex” still meant minimal touch and then simple intercourse (only), a very male-centric approach.
I had spent a lot of weekends in Chicago prior to being 21, coming to watch Otis Rush play at Alice’s Revisited in their monthly weekends there. With no liquor license, I was old enough to be there. A band member had told me of this opportunity, after I saw them perform in Madison.
Late in the Fall of 1973, I moved to Chicago because of my continuing love of blues music.
In December, 1973, I began three month’s training in Peoria to be a claims representative with Social Security. I was initially assigned then to Peru, Illinois. My trainers thought I would need to mature outside of Chicago, before I could survive, working there.
In the Fall of 1974 I was finally in Chicago to stay
with Social Security. My social life
was heavily tied to going to hear musicians like Buddy Guy, Jimmy Dawkins,
Howlin Wolf, and my personal favorite Lonnie Brooks at their “home bars” on the
West & Southsides of Chicago. I
went with my fellow Blues Amalgamated Members (I came up with the name) at the “home
bars”. Our “blues lives” centered around
Bob Koester (see: http://georgesworldonthewater.blogspot.com/2021/05/bob-koester-giant-of-person-delmark.html
). Roger and Wes were my “best buddies”.
In 1976 I had my first girlfriend who lasted (more than around 6-8 weeks) with me. We were married in February, 1977. We hired Lonnie Brooks to play for our (personal) wedding party, which was after our honeymoon. Michael Frank brought Honeyboy Edwards to sit in, a highlight of a wonderful evening.
I quit Social Security in June, 1980, after completing my coursework for a master’s degree in Counselor Education, having worked and gone to school full-time for 1 ½ years. After my master’s internship that summer, I began working as a volunteer for the John Anderson for President campaign. Though I had not thought about it, while my wife was working briefly in DC, I had a one week “affair” with fellow volunteer.
After immediately confessing the “sexual transgression”, we “rationally” talked and changed our plans, deciding to stay together. I no longer was bound to be monogamous. In December of 1980, after a weekend relationships seminar, we mutually decided to have an open relationship.
I returned working for Social Security after an unsuccessful other job – in the Fall of 1981. In late 1981 I discovered the pro-feminist men’s movement, joining my first men’s group. I went to my first men’s weekend, having a great time. I helped organize a second, larger men’s gathering, helping create cooperation between men in Chicago, Milwaukee, Madison and the Minneapolis Area.
In January, 1983, my wife and I bought a house in Madison, after she got a requested job transfer to Madison. My wife had two gay male roommates in Madison, while I had two straight female roommates in Chicago. Finally, that summer, I got transferred to the Janesville Social Security Office.
I was active with the Madison Men’s Center. A group of us then attended the Upper-Midwest Men’s Conference in St. Paul. We were strongly inspired by Andrea Dworkin’s first speech to a predominately male audience.
A group of us began what became Men Stopping Rape, Inc. of Madison. After roughly a year’s work we became the most significant men’s anti-rape group in North America. I wrote and printed our newsletter on my new computer and printer and was a core group member.
Around Labor Day, 1986 I went away for a weekend progressive retreat. I came back to tell my wife that I’d met a new lover, who lived in Minneapolis. My wife, told me then that after a lengthy mutual effort, we were pregnant. I then began seeing my lover every 1-2 months for a weekend that was heavily sexual, as our pregnancy continued. I was learning that “sex” for me was a lot of touch, and was not predicated upon how many times I orgasmed.
My son was born on my 36th birthday in 1987 while my wife was getting a second bachelor’s degree at UW. I was wrapped up in parenting. I was shocked to discover that the men of Men Stopping Rape were not (really) my close friends and allies. They were not there for me at all! I found a few fellow fathers and had limited ties with them. I was working 24 hours/week and was the primary parent for our son for most of his first two years.
My views on Israel-Palestine and being Jewish have been important from the 1980’s on. I read and listened to various speakers, when given the opportunity. In 1987, I went (for free) to see noted Anti-Semite: Louis Farrakhan speak at the University of Wisconsin. Hearing him speak helped me better understand both his Anti-Semitism and his charisma as a speaker.
In 1989, after my pushing for it, we moved to Oakland after my transfer to the Hayward Social Security Office, and my wife’s scheduled internships in the Bay Area. I worked full-time in California and gradually became much less present emotionally with our son and with my wife.
In 1992 I left Social Security to work on federal civilian worker’s compensation claims within The Department of Labor. I had been dead-ended at Social Security because of how I spoke up. My manager, knowing that I’d be leaving soon, surprised me greatly by saying: “George, we are going to miss you.” As one who had never gotten any substantive recognition at my job, I asked why she felt that way. She told me that I’d been doing the workload of half our unit (of six claims representatives).
I enjoyed my initial Department of Labor Work a lot. The workload was very challenging! I also felt isolated, particularly with an immediate supervising employee. I produced a tremendous volume of quality work again, but was told that I wasn’t a “team player”. The job was heavily “triage like” in that one could never do all the work that we individually and collectively had.
In 1998, during my last time with my lover, I suddenly “couldn’t get it up” – as erectile dysfunction first entered my life. It was traumatic, though I didn’t question my masculinity with it, like most men do. I looked for others’ writing on living with it, and found absolutely nothing. Eventually I wrote a writing on living with e.d. – which is published both at: https://voicemalemagazine.org/living-and-loving-with-erectile-dysfunction/ as well as being published in a book that was an anthology of various magazine writings. I later wrong another writing for my personal blog which can be read at: http://georgesworldonthewater.blogspot.com/2019/01/erectile-dysfunction-is-highly.html .
I applied in 1998 and got a job working on construction wage surveys with a different branch of the Department of Labor. I had to take a downgrade, but the job went to a higher pay level than my prior job. This work wasn’t real interesting, but there was a lot less pressure.
I had several lovers in California and was active in social gatherings of the local polyamory community. I should have not done this, because my marriage was not on solid ground. I, of course, didn’t get this! I was in my own, selfish world. I went to my son’s games, had meals with my wife and him, and was there on a practical level. I wasn’t there – emotionally for my son or my wife - immaturely repeating what I hated in my own childhood with my parents.
In 2002 I met my current wife, and in relatively short order - ended my first marriage. I wanted out! I was scared that I would lose my (poor) relationship with my son.
In my marriage we were more like: “brother/sisters” - with no fighting, confronting each other or similar.
With my new wife things were very, very different! We had a deep emotional bond. We had little in common. She is Black and Queer identified. I’m a morning person and she’s not at all like that. Our marriage has had a lot of struggles. In being fully honest I would have to say that I was never really deeply committed and remained so until late 2018.
I love physical touch and pushed a lot for sex when we touched each other. I was very wrong. I alienated my partner both in this way, and in general with not being deeply committed to her feelings. I did not understand why physical touch is so important to me. I also did not understand what a deep relationship is. I had no sense that I could be any different than I was.
In around 2011, I began visiting a 100 year old former bridge partner. She had fallen, and lost her ability to care for herself. As I became wrapped up in supporting her, I lost track of my own emotional bearing.
Depression has been a major issue in much of my life. I entered by far the worst depression of my life at this time! I was not suicidal, but making it through days became a huge challenge. I was very dependent upon my partner.
In 2012 I started “A Men’s Project”, a website which listed hyperlinks and brief descriptions of resources related to a variety of men’s issues such as: men’s violence issues, health issues, bullying, and fathering.
While I hoped through the work to build connections with men and to really reach men, I found a very different reality. I got some praises from men, but little connection. The men that I really reached, were nearly all isolated male survivors of childhood sexual abuse. Mostly I connected with women, who appreciated my work In early 2018, when I was already considering giving up the site, through missing a necessary payment (through losing track of web links), the site was shut-down.
In 2017, after a bad cold, I began to have serious limitations with my breath and general strength. Walking up a few steps such as into our house was a challenge. I was shocked to find out that I had a blocked artery. A second intervention succeeded in two stents being inserted, giving my back my breath and strength.
In May, 2018, after 12+ years in Seattle (after California), we moved to Chicago to be near our granddaughter, who was born in late May. My wife struggled to find a job (she’d been unemployed at the end in Seattle) and her first job was extremely challenging.
V.- FINALLY STARTING TO GROW UP
I betrayed my wife after our move! After things blew up in November, 2018, I started to realize how I’d done a lot of things very wrong in my life.
As we struggled with couples’ counseling, which I’d requested we go into several months earlier, I began a miraculous awakening. I immediately saw both how my “tit-for-tat” rationalizations of things I didn’t was wrong, as well as how I needed to connect in very different ways with my loving partner.
Constipation invaded my life in April, 2018. It still plagues me, though it’s moved finally to a life situation, I can tolerate, while not liking it. My problem is – going too often. It totally messed up my sleep early on. I became very sleep deprived. I had to stop driving after falling asleep at the wheel several times. I was lucky not to have killed myself or others! Coping with constipation has helped me see the critical connection I have between my mind, my body and my heart.
In June, 2018, I began experiencing pain in one leg, followed by the pain expanding in the other leg. From early on in my treatment, I sensed that I was being misdiagnosed. I unsuccessfully tried to counter the words of both my doctor, and physical therapist. Walking was challenging. I couldn’t exercise. Sitting required hard backed chairs and rarely could I find something comfortable to sit on. Finally, after my doctor told me I should go to an urgent care clinic due to my pain, I called my old, retired internist (former bridge partner) Charley. He listened for 3-4 minutes and then told me that I had a herniated disc in my lower back. He was 100% right!
Physical therapy required me to do a lot of stretching which will continue indefinitely if not for the rest of my life.. In February, 2019, I began exercising again, after I had healed. My start was deliberately slow and gradually I got back into good physical shape. This morning I lifted my 25 pound weights 1800 times, did 41 strenuous minutes on my exercise bike, as well as my stretching. I am stronger now, than I’ve ever been. Exercise gives me energy. I am grateful for every day – I am able to work out so strenuously, At some point in the coming years, I will need to start lightening up my regimen.
In June, 2019, I began working with Organizing White Men for Collective Liberation (www.owmcl.org). Working with another man, we co-founded its Chicago Chapter which is gradually gaining strength. I also work seriously in multiple areas nationally. Early on I got into trouble with a group leader, lacking patience with various things. I have worked my way back from much of this, though some probably still don’t trust me fully.
In December, 2019, with my partner’s encouragement, I took an online test for Asperger’s Syndrome. I was surprised when it showed that I am significantly autistic. Subsequent tests and reading made it clear to me that I am definitely “neuro-diverse”. We switched couples’ therapists to a psychologist with experience dealing with couples struggling with such issues. I also sought a therapist to deal with my new understanding and was fortunate to find a fellow Aspie who has excellent insights for me.
My initial understanding of my autism had followed two conflicts directly related to it. In one we had a serious disagreement when I was told that “if you loved me you would choose what you should know I would want”. This related to deciding how we would get from San Francisco to Berkeley one day. I asked my partner how we should go, and she asked me to make the choice. I told her what I would prefer, but indicated that I thought that she might not want to do it that way. She indicated that I needed to make the decision. I presented my analysis a second time, and again was told it was up to me. I then chose what seemed “rational” and “reasonable” to me. Now, finally, she understands a portion of this important part of me! I can’t pick up the nuances – and think for her – as she wants me to do. I have to ask and trust her answers.
In February, 2020, I shocked both my partner and myself with another hurtful incident with another woman. Prior to this, I thought that I was “free” of such things. It was a rude awakening for both of us. I thought that I had worked through things here, and showed both of us that clearly I hadn’t. This has seriously hurt both of us, particularly my partner.
Around the same time I recognized the importance of how I had not bonded with either parent or anyone else as a young child. I began exploring my emotional isolation and lack of close friends from childhood through the present.
The more that I thought and worked through things, the more I learned valuable lessons!
I began to see how I had been aware of the importance of feelings, but had not gotten inside of my own cauldron of feelings. I began to see how I had learned to stifle my feelings. I didn’t recognize them, and got myself immediately busy doing things to squash them. As I began to experience my feelings, I learned a lot!
I learned to really feel the physical and emotional pains that I experienced. Feeling bad changed from something to avoid, to something to work my way through, taking as long as it might take. Feeling really deeply allowed me to listen and hear many things that I had never heard before. Sometimes – I had difficulties, as the world around me moved too rapidly, forcing me to choose between missing some of what was transpiring, or experiencing fully what I was feeling.
My autism – is a beautiful part of me – that makes some parts of my life very challenging! There are advantages and disadvantages of it. I am not “flawed” or “disabled”. It is similar in a way to being Black or being a woman. It can make life more challenging than the dominant – “class” – but it doesn’t mean one is inferior to others.
Taking my time with things was very different from the frenetic pace things had moved within me previously. I began noticing how the sun rising each morning – coming out of Lake Michigan (outside our condo) was amazingly unique each non-cloudy dawn. I moved from a world where I had divided most things into “wonderful” – (rushing towards them) or “horrible” – (avoiding them strongly), to a world of greys and beiges, as well as many variations of the bright, powerful colors around me.
I also began to start listening to the men around me. Some of them are incredible people. Others were not quite as interesting. I tried to learn what I could from most everyone. I started to build ties with some of these men. As I began to make connections, I noticed a new change.
I was used to feeling ignored and occasionally criticized. Now I started hearing affirmations – warmth and joy in the words of significant numbers of others.
I joined quite a few trainings on racism and related issues. I started trying to learn more about Palestine-Israel, about my identity as a Jew, and particularly about racism. I learned nuances and small things and things that aren’t something I can readily understand. Living through the horrible pain of two kidney stones was also a (positive) learning experience for me.
Life is changing again and again! The more that I know, the more I’m aware of how little I really know. Life has become fascinating! Even difficult – emotional lessons like my mortality seem less problematic. I can appreciate what I have now, as well as being confident that tomorrow will be a meaningful day as well.
I read and learn! I write reviews of the best of my readings on my personal blog at: www.GeorgesWorldOnTheWater.blogspot.com as well as on my anti-racism blog at: www.WorkingTowardsEndingRacism.blogspot.com.
I also simply experience much more! It can be walking with Zoey, our mini-GoldenDoodle – experiencing life outside with her.
I am learning to really breathe – deeply and let my body’s energy flow.
In recent months I’ve begun to do mutual aid work – through our local warehouse – bagging and helping get food and other necessities to the drivers to help the households that rely upon them – as a significant part of their lives. I’ve discovered a world of caring people, mostly much younger than me.
It was quite a new challenge to hear that we shouldn’t work – rapidly. Being cooperative – and part of a whole effort – helping to build a new world not built upon power over others. I realized right away that my world of “doing the best” or “making up for my deficits by efficiency” and similar – are not helpful – in my new(er) world.
I can not really explain the depth and breadth of all that I’m experiencing! It is a beautiful new opportunity in my life. Yesterday, I offended a woman at mutual aid – by taking over something I shouldn’t have. A nearby woman confronted me in a caring way, and I learned a little more. Every little bit helps me!
I appreciate the challenging world that I face! I have a lot of work to do! I enjoy playing. I enjoy taking on new roles and goals. I enjoy men – though they can be tough to deal with. There is so much there! It is often not pretty. It is helpful. The pain(s) and shame(s) and guilt(s) are things that give me new opportunities.
I have a long way to go! I don’t know how much time I have. I do know that I’m starting to do what I want to do – and that I will sustain my efforts as best I can. Thanks! Hopefully – your journey – won’t take so long – wherever it may bring you!