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HETRICK: Groundhog Day experience helps put life in perspective

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Bruce Hetrick

In the movie “Groundhog Day,” actor Bill Murray plays the part of Phil Connors, a TV weatherman on assignment in Punxsutawney, Pa., who finds himself trapped in a time loop.

Over and over, Feb. 2 repeats itself, forcing Connors to reconsider where he’s been in life and what matters most.

It was fitting, then, that on Groundhog Day 2013, I found myself on assignment in Connecticut, a place where I started over nearly 30 years ago; a place where, a la Paul McCartney, I did my best work with the old band; a place I’d likely still be if life had been kinder and gentler.

But alas, life doesn’t work that way.

As I drove Saturday night from Bradley International Airport to my hotel in the Farmington Valley, it began to snow—nothing heavy, just enough to cover the ground and line the branches of trees.

When I awoke Sunday morning, I parted the drapes and looked out on a picture-perfect New England postcard.

With no obligations ’til noon, I got dressed, threw on my overcoat and a baseball cap, and hopped in my rental car for a nostalgia trip.

Past the first house I ever owned—a yellow, three-bedroom ranch with a mountain view out the family-room window.

Past a home my parents built, sitting high on a meadow, a stone wall separating their land from a country lane.

Past the home where my sister ran away, starting a downward spiral toward homelessness, poverty and worse.

Past the drive where we lit luminaries one Christmas Eve, all the while praying that my brother the soldier would not be shipped to Iraq.

Past the office building where I plied my trade with some of the best friends I’ve ever known.

Past the hospital where my twin sons were born nearly 25 years ago.

Past the newly constructed house where their mom and I brought them home, where we wept over our son Austin’s cancer six months later, where our marriage ended soon thereafter.

Past the apartment where my new life and a remarkable love story began.

For lunch on Sunday, my best friend of long ago and his new wife took me to a French café in West Hartford center.

For dinner Sunday night, my boss of seven years took me to dinner at an Italian place in Avon.

Have you ever had friends you’ve not seen for five or seven or 10 years, yet you sit down to break bread and the conversation picks up like there’s never been a pause?

These are those kinds of friends. It’s difficult to find them. It’s hard to lose them.

One evening, decades ago, my second wife Pam and I drove out to the grounds at CIGNA Corp. for a concert by the singer Neil Sedaka. His big hit had been “Breakin’ Up is Hard to Do.” We’d both been there and done that.

But that night, we also heard a song called “The Hungry Years.” Among the foreboding lyrics, sung to a couple whose love would end in Pam’s death by cancer:

We spun so fast we couldn’t tell

The gold ring from the carousel.

How could we know the ride would turn out bad?

Everything we wanted was everything we had.

Driving down memory lane through Bloomfield and Windsor, I recalled Sedaka missing “the hungry years—the once upon a time, the lovely long ago, we didn’t have a dime, those days of me and you we lost along the way.”

And yet … and yet I’m a Star Trek buff.

So I know that even if you could go back in time. Even if you could score a do-over. Even if you could make little tweaks here and there to change an outcome or two (or maybe even two cases of cancer), altering any one thing in the past would mess up all kinds of things in the future.

So as much as I might contemplate going back, as much as I’d like to know “what if we’d stayed,” as much as I might imagine what could have been, I’ve lived too much, and loved too much, and learned too much to rank regret over remembrance.

Unlike Bill Murray, you see, my clock moved off Groundhog Day and onto Valentine’s Day six years ago this week.

That’s when I married Cheri.

When time started over.

When the sun rose again.

When life began anew.

When picture-perfect snow covered the ground and lined the branches of trees.

So, dear lovers (actual and would be), should you require one day to repeat itself to remind you where you’ve been in life and what matters most, please know that Valentine’s Day overshadows Groundhog Day any day.•

__________

Hetrick is an Indianapolis-based writer, speaker and public relations consultant. His column appears twice a month. He can be reached at bhetrick@ibj.com.

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  1. If what you stated is true, then this article is entirely inaccurate. "State sells bonds" is same as "State borrows money". Supposedly the company will "pay for them". But since we are paying the company, we are still paying for this road with borrowed money, even though the state has $2 billion in the bank.

  2. Andrew hit the nail on the head. AMTRAK provides terrible service and that is why the state has found a contractor to improve the service. More trips, on-time performance, better times, cleanliness and adequate or better restrooms. WI-FI and food service will also be provided. Transit from outlying areas will also be provided. I wouldn't take it the way it is but with the above services and marketing of the service,ridership will improve and more folks will explore Indy and may even want to move here.

  3. They could take the property using eminent domain and save money by not paying the church or building a soccer field and a new driveway. Ctrwd has monthly meetings open to all customers of the district. The meetings are listed and if the customers really cared that much they would show. Ctrwd works hard in every way they can to make sure the customer is put first. Overflows damage the surrounding environment and cost a lot of money every year. There have been many upgrades done through the years to help not send flow to Carmel. Even with the upgrades ctrwd cannot always keep up. I understand how a storage tank could be an eye sore, but has anyone thought to look at other lift stations or storage tanks. Most lift stations are right in the middle of neighborhoods. Some close to schools and soccer fields, and some right in back yards, or at least next to a back yard. We all have to work together to come up with a proper solution. The proposed solution by ctrwd is the best one offered so far.

  4. Fox has comments from several people that seem to have some inside information. I would refer to their website. Changed my whole opionion of this story.

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