(Just at the moment, in the “Delta Club” at SFO)
Richard Careaga and I go back fifty-nine years. I was not paying complete attention for about the first thirty-six or forty months of this period, but from that time forward, and until he quit what remained of the ancestral hearth in September 1965, I studied him closely and attempted energetically if erratically to model my life on his. I was already on a skewed trajectory destined to bury the point in wilderness far removed from my intended target, but everything I am today is informed by the slavish adoration and emulation with which I regarded him from the earliest months during which my initial impressions coalesced into my first memories.
He would have been eight and change and I three and change. I was aware of my parents, but these then appeared vast, gigantic conditions of nature rather than actors within it. Richard loomed large enough to my toddler vantage, but still of sufficiently human scale to command my devotion rather than my uncomprehending love and awe. As I gradually developed a more nuanced comprehension of my family, Richard was my reliable guide and intermediary, explaining, intervening, protecting. He did all this even as he extended his own social circle to his peers. I vividly remember him cycling away from me in 1957 to join his friends. I was more than prepared to be party to that conversation; they, likely not so much. “Rich!” I screeched, “R-i-i-i-ch!” —and the bicycle with its rider disappeared at the western end of Index Street faster than my stubby little legs could carry me.
He’s always been the overachiever of the family (although he’d feel uncomfortable to hear himself so described) and his younger sibs stand in awe of him: spare us, Richard, the “impostor syndrome” bullshit. Noted and dismissed. He stayed here at the Crumbling Manse™ the past two evenings and even though his flight back to Florida does not leave until curfew this evening elected to head off to SFO in mid-afternoon. This seemed loopy to Lina, but I understood: it is better to be five hours early for a flight than one minute late. This is the Careaga Way, and I salute my bro (ensconced, I trust, in the fabulous premium appurtenances of the “Delta Club” from this moment until the boarding call) on his way back east.