Have you ever had times when all your mind seems to want to do is walk down memory lane? You try to focus on matters at hand but some event or reminder or set of reminders turns your brain back to the past? I’m having one of those weeks.
First was the terrible news from my best friend from high school, Jessica. I got the text while going home in an Uber last Wednesday night. It was a simple one: “My Pop passed away tonight.” Apparently it was some weeks in coming but I didn’t know that, so the message came as a shock. I was stricken not just by the news but by the realization that we don’t always keep in deep touch even with our oldest and dearest friends. I talked to Jessica a long time that night, and on Sunday my wife and I drove to New Jersey to her family’s home to sit shiva, on what would have been her father’s 88th birthday. Some of your friends’ folks you know well and others you don’t. Jessica’s I knew well. In high school and long after, it was her family home where we would most often gather and talk and eat. Once we went off to college and graduate school, year after year, after Thanksgiving dinner at our own homes, we would congregate at Jessica’s house for dessert. Her parents, Peter and Faith, were warm and down-to-earth hosts. And so my mind has gone back to those times. Remembering Jessica’s dad, a successful businessman, big and mustachioed, who sang opera on the side, so full of life, laughing with us young and naïve people, none of us knowing really how we would make our way in the world, whether we would fulfill any of our dreams and hopes. It’s felt good somehow to remember such happy and uncertain times. RIP Peter Goldsmith.
Next came my conversation on Tuesday with ABC News correspondent Jonathan Karl on Stay Tuned. We of course spent most of our time talking about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, including all of the unexpected official and corporate sanctions seemingly announced hourly. One rather mundane action struck me – hours before taping, McDonald’s announced temporary cessation of all operations in Russia. My mind went back again and again to the one time I visited Russia, back in 1993. Jonathan and I reminisced about patronizing that very first McDonald’s in Moscow. It’s hard to express what an iconic moment it was when that franchise opened there. I was raised during the Cold War, raised to fear the Soviet Union. By 1993, sure, the Russian Federation still had nukes. But they had big macs now too. That seemed fairly mitigating at the time.