People scooped up these tabloids, devoured their gossip, and on previous trips to England I had always done the same. But now, for some reason, I found myself thinking about Morrie whenever I read anything silly or mindless. I kept picturing him there, in the house with the Japanese maple and the hardwood floors, counting his breath, squeezing out every moment with his loved ones, while I spent so many hours on things that meant absolutely nothing to me personally[.]
I flew to Detroit, arrived late in the afternoon, dragged myself home and went to sleep. I awoke to a jolting piece of news: the unions at my newspaper had gone on strike. The place was shut down. . . . As a member of the union, I had no choice: I was suddenly, and for the first time in my life, out of a job, out of a paycheck, and pitted against my employers.
Each time we talk, he listens to me ramble, then he tries to pass on some sort of life lesson. He warns me that money is not the most important thing, contrary to the popular view on campus. He tells me I need to be “fully human.” He speaks of the alienation of youth and the need for “connectedness” with the society around me. Some of these things I understand, some I do not. It makes no difference. The discussions give me an excuse to talk to him, fatherly conversations I cannot have with my own father, who would like me to be a lawyer.
This time, without the need to make up sixteen years of information, we slid quickly into the familiar waters of our old college dialogue, Morrie asking questions, listening to my replies, stopping like a chef to sprinkle in something I’d forgotten or hadn’t realized. He asked about the newspaper strike, and true to form, he couldn’t understand why both sides didn’t simply communicate with each other and solve their problems.
“Ah, Mitch. I’m gonna loosen you up. One day, I’m gonna show you it’s OK to cry.” . . . Yeah, yeah, I said. “Yeah, yeah,” he said. We laughed because he used to say the same thing nearly twenty years earlier. Mostly on Tuesdays. In fact, Tuesday had always been our day together. Most of my courses with Morrie were on Tuesdays, he had office hours on Tuesdays, and when I wrote my senior thesis . . . it was on Tuesdays that we sat together . . . going over the work.