Born into the Real World in the first half of the last century, Renny was the youngest of an extremely large brood – 11 kids all told. And though the oldest brother was practically out of the house by the time Renny arrived on the scene, the remaining siblings kept their four-room family apartment chock full at all times. Renny did not suffer loneliness in childhood.
In fact he craved loneliness – or rather, time alone.
It wasn’t to be, not where Renny grew up. Like when periodically Renny’s parents took him and a half dozen or so of his brothers and sisters to the beach to experience the great outdoors. On a holiday or during a summer heat wave – that meant that the blankets, towels, folding chairs, coolers, umbrellas and the bodies of a million beachgoers covered the sand so thoroughly that Renny had to pick his way on tiptoe between the sprawled out families to get to the surf.
When his 7th grade class studied Alaska, Renny’s takeaway was glorious, open spaces. He started putting aside a grubstake that year. He got serious about building up the account in high school with his wages from pumping gas evenings and weekends.
Soon after he graduated City High, Renny had enough for a bus ticket to Seattle and a boat ticket to Our Town. But when he reached his final destination, he was shocked.
Our Town was crowded – not nearly the boundless space Renny had daydreamed about. Surrounded by endless forest, he nonetheless found the residents of Our Town pressed cheek to jowl.
Renny weighed his options. This was back in the day when you could lay claim to land, just about, by living on it and filling out some paperwork. So Renny took a skiff north of town and set himself up a sweet little homestead at an unused spot on the beach, facing Mt. Edgecumbe.
Renny loved his quiet lifestyle, reading, hiking, listening to the birds and the wind. But civilization did not stop for Renny – one black day, a road was built and the cars and trucks started whooshing by.
And this is where the Soupster, who was visiting Renny’s place, joins our story.
“Renny? The noise from those big trucks doesn’t bother you?” the Soupster asked. “The last truck shook the whole house.”
“I used to care,” answered Renny. “I used to care a lot.”
“But now you don’t?”
“That’s a hard question to answer,” said Renny. “I still cherish my boyhood fantasies of living away from it all. And it’s great to imagine that giant sundae you had with a dozen scoops of ice cream and eight different syrups. But who’d want to eat something like that again? Not an old man like me.”
“Huh?” said the Soupster.
“I like my quiet,” Renny said. “But I like having people nearby.” He pointed to Mt. Edgecumbe, which filled most of the living room window.
“It’s all wild, out there – all of it,” he concluded. “I love that it’s wild. And I also love it that Our Town has my back!”
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