John Boston | Looking Back at the Best Thing I’ve Ever Done

John Boston

I’m in the midst of an interesting life, filled with luck and adventures, triumphs and a few tragedies, the latter all curiously survivable. I’ve yet to master the fortune thing, but, I’m working on it. I’m one of the best writers around.

Or, depending with whom you’re chatting — the worst.

Horses appear in my list of best experiences. Simply brushing a horse takes the edges off. Once I’m in the saddle, all problems magically disappear.

Best Moments? Uncountable. Years ago, I was riding on a Northern California beach. The cold dunes were riotous with manzanita, yarrow, coastal buckwheat, columbine and countless hearty wild plants and flowers. Horse and I meandered through a sandy low divide. On the beach, not 15 yards away, was a deer. As they have for billions of years, waves crashed, an ocean breeze caressed. The sun was warm but not harsh on the eyes. It felt as if time had stopped. Maybe 10 minutes passed. The deer and I? So profoundly close, we just looked at one another.

Or maybe it was looking at the horse. 

One of the best things I’ve ever done.

Slowly rode a motorcycle once through a migration of billions of orange Monarch butterflies on Coast Route 1. Sat at a dinner in the grand hall of the National Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City. It’s a ballroom the size of an aircraft hangar with an epic mural of America’s spectacular beauty. They presented me with the Will Rogers Lifetime Achievement Award. Funny thing? I’m more tickled pink that I write for my hometown Mighty Signal. Staying here was one of my life’s best decisions.

Had Al Adelini for my high school speech teacher, Donna Lee as a writing coach. Was pals with Jim Murray. Threw a no-hitter in A-league slo-pitch softball once — against the league’s unbeaten team. Shooting around with my dad one day, I hit 47 three-pointers in a row. Now there’s a Best. Walt. My father. How did I get so lucky to have a second mom like JoAnn Peters? My six goofball sibling-like substances? None better. There’s Jan, the Acton cowgirl stuck in Idaho, Becker, Ernie, Brian the “Guards Seize Them!” Actor and my Alleged Best Friend, Phil.

Phil Lanier and I published two issues of Amalgamated Buffalo Chips, a college satire magazine a half-century ago. Couldn’t find my copies and wanted them framed for my office. So, last week, Phil mailed them to me. Alas, it was his envelope that was more suitable for framing. Lanier addressed it to: John “Sensitive Liberal Leftist Socialist-Loving” Boston in 600-point type. I told him I was approached by the state’s teachers’ union for a group hug. Childbirth announcements. Death of loved ones. Promotions. Divorces. Firings. Vampire bats. It doesn’t matter what the conversation topic is. For 60 years, Phil and I share the best and worst of news, but always? We laugh — every conversation. Friends? How’s that for a Best?

This dratted flu. It’s kept me from my daughter, turned the country upside down. Never in my wildest nightmares did I think I’d be a weekend dad, let alone one an 18-hour drive away in light traffic. My teen daughter is finishing high school in Oklahoma. I hadn’t seen her in more than a year thanks to this Chinese influenza created in a lab. A year. A year. A year. There are places beyond regret and loneliness. 


Just had a world-record happy Thanksgiving. My amigita and I spent three weeks together. Starbucks. Hiking. Beach. Movies. Popcorn. Roadtrips. She still eats off my plate. She’ll be 18 in a month and confessed: “Dad. Eighteen’s nothing to get excited about. It just means that for certain felonies, I’m now eligible for the death penalty.”


I’m so proud.

That’s. My. Baby. Girl. 

We had long conversations on art, family, philosophy and our favorite topic — What Makes Everyone So Blankety-Blank Nuts? Since she was 3, we’ve talked about being in the world, but not of it. She’s 17, already a professional artist with several scholarship offers for college, including Yale. My fingers are crossed for CalArts, for obvious dad-centric reasons.

When she was little, well — little-er — we once bounced a rubber ball back and forth on a picnic table 1,000 times. I know. We counted. Top that. When she was a month old I held her wrapped in extra blankets. Under the cold porch eaves, I rocked her gently and softly explained, “That sound is what you call — rain.” In her Kindergarten Period, she’d sit on my lap, in the safety of our cozy sun porch, wrapped in a big buffalo coat. In the dark, we’d watch for celestial explosions, then count: “One-thousand one, one-thousand-two…” figuring how far away were the lightning strikes. 

My daughter doesn’t sit on my lap anymore. But, she tells me that she loves me. And I, her.

Hearing, saying, “I love you.” Meaning it. Is there anything better?

We get a kick out of one another. We get one another. My daughter can be messy. Not Regular Messy. More like A Bear Breaking Into Your Car In Yosemite/Led Zepplin In The Presidential Suite Messy. 

And that? It’s fine.

All the quirks. All the edges. All the softness.

All the things that are my daughter make my heart soar.

Once I was on stage with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, co-hosting a big to-do in Beverly Hills. I’ve helped raise money for widows and orphans, hopefully, none of them Democrats. Led out the Fourth of July parade on horseback. I’m the local historian for the valley I adore. I’m a novelist. Been in love. Owned a racing Alfa Romeo painted red, white and blue. Played pool at The See ’Em Dead Zoo Bar in Columbus, Montana.

But that Best Thing Ever? 

That Best Thing I’ve ever done with my life?

It’s having Indiana Boston, as my daughter…

John Boston is a local writer. 

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