I was 19, living alone in my first apartment, relishing the solitude and the freedom of having my own space. Many nights I sat on a second-hand loveseat watching my very own television, bought via the Sears Easy Payment Plan.
Thanks to my sister, who worked in the Sears credit department, I was building my credit, $13 at a time, each and every month.
"Mork and Mindy" was one of my favorite shows. That's how long Robin Williams has been making me laugh. So hearing that he gave in to his demons today brought me great sadness.
Years and years and years ago, I almost gave into those same demons who steal the reality of hope away. Afterward, I could see what a selfish act suicide truly is.
When you're eighteen, it's sometimes tough to believe things can get better. When you're 63, you've already survived so much, you should know better.
However, lest I start becoming too judgemental, I remember "There, but for the grace of God..." I remember to be grateful for the chance to see it that way. Grateful for a second chance to live and love life.
But dang it. Robin Williams.
My kids know him through Mrs. Doubtfire and Disney cartoons and Hook. He's been making them laugh their entire lives. At 63, he still had so much living and giving yet to do.
With a heart already missing the craziness of Robin Williams in this world, I also learned this evening that a treasure of my childhood may be destroyed.
The old Capitan Theater, built in 1949, has been languishing for years, waiting for an investor to restore it to its previous glory. I remember elegant velvet loveseats, carpeted stairways, ornate murals and decorations.
I can still see a young Elvis Presley dancing on the screen ... can still hear him singing "Viva Las Vegas" straight to the five-year-old me.
But peeking through the glass front doors in recent years revealed years of neglect. It once sat in the center of town, close to the newspaper office and the post office and City Hall, but now gathers dust on the outskirts of a town that continually boards up building in favor of bigger, better, and newer, rather than trying to preserve its history. The ornate old post office was left behind years ago.
And yet I still held on to hope that someone would come along and fix up the old theater. Instead, according to a story in the local newspaper, it's been sold to a chemical company and expected to be destroyed.
However, despite what Robin Williams obviously felt in his last minutes or hours, because of my own experience I believe there's always hope as long as there's breath. It's too late for Robin, but I'm holding out hope for El Capitan.
Holding out hope that the city realizes its history is a treasure and starts to treat it as such.
But may you rest in peace, Robin. Thank you for decades of belly-aching laughter and heart-aching movies.
Perhaps you were just afraid you'd become a dusty relic, and decided to make your exit while the neon lights still shone.