The Best Jobs of Our Lives

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Myrna Loy, Fredric March & Teresa Wright

They sure don’t make ‘em like they used to, movies, marriages, jobs. Take the 1946 film classic, “The Best Years of our Lives,” the story of three returning World War II veterans who meet by chance on the way home and whose lives become entangled. At one point, Teresa Wright, who has fallen in love with one of the men, asks her mother, played by Myrna Loy, why her love life can’t be as tranquil as that of her marriage to Fredric March, who plays her father. Loy, who is cracking open peas, says without pause: “You don’t know how many times I told your father I hated him — and meant it.”

I think of that film often as I carry home the frustrations of my job and inflict them on those closest to me. Gabbing with my favorite newsroom old timer the other day, I heard how he spent two months in a remote locale during the mid 1960s and filed 30 typewritten dispatches. They had to be carried out by hand. Now there’s content! I, by way of contrast, spent late Friday afternoon by explaining to my section editors at the day-end news meeting why my story about rising egg prices didn’t fit the pre-assigned concept graphic of a decorated Easter egg.

In any event, I’m off for two weeks. At the moment I’m driving to a weeklong campout in the desert to chaperone my 15-year-old son, a homeschooler who can’t wait to connect with friends scattered throughout the state who, like him, count the days between these periodic tribal gatherings. It’s the first time he and I will be alone this long without the complications of the rest of the family and I’m looking forward to that.

I also need to do some soul-searching and deep-thinking.  The last time I was here was five years ago when the invasion of Iraq had just been launched. I had volunteered to go over there but had been turned down. Perhaps just as well as, unbeknownst to me, my wife was even then gestating the suprise daughter who is now four-years-old, and the family delight.

I even dusted off the unpublished novel I wrote about 20 years ago before I became a reporter. In fact my failure to sell that manuscript sent me down the path toward newspaper journalism. The protaginist is a young sailor of Italian-American extraction who has conflicts with authority during his tour at the end of the Vietnam War. He reminds me of someone I used to know.