Jim MacArthur

My name is Jim McArthur. Sixty-three-years-old now, I was born to William and Ann in 1958 in St. Andrews Parish, South Carolina in the vicinity of the Charleston Neck, situated between the Cooper and Ashley rivers that form the Atlantic Ocean. Born ten years after my brother, I lived a tranquil childhood attending to my studies as expected, not more, enjoying summers free of encumbrances, roaming and playing with the neighborhood gang, breaking parent’s admonitions under Jerry Boyce’s spell. Ideal is the manner describing those days, perfect in the sense we explored the world within the confines of our eyes and feet, but not worldly enough to care about life, or lives, beyond those boundaries. Shrimping and crabbing, playing pick-up football, and dreaming about kissing Sally Adler satisfied my adventure and curiosity. I was happy not to grow up too soon. 

Beneath this insular existence, a feeling pervaded my relationships. Unable to verbalize it, I held it inward, but this sense made me think I did not belong. Nothing made me believe Mom and Dad were not my parents or Dan was not my brother. Relatives provided ample stories and shared characteristics to solidify I was indeed a MacArthur. MacArthurs have square jaws, are thickset and round-shouldered. None are more or less than average height. Most can be identified by their arched noses and coffee-tone hair. “He’s a MacArthur,” my aunts and uncles would say. I was a MacArthur all right but overriding these assurances an aloneness permeated my every thought. 

But I did grow up. Unfolding is the flower reaching toward sunlight and I reached not sooner, not later. I reached not knowing what my hand would grasp. Every movement brought some consequential success or failure. The feeling of being separate from the world intensified with every forward thrust of intention. I had vacated my secluded childhood corner between the rivers into the wider Atlantic.  

Years passed. Then, one day, I learned Sally had not fared well. Living in a broken marriage, subsistence characterized her present state. Poor at picking a husband, her children turned out no better. I began to think about my childhood crush differently.  

Then, I read in the newspaper Jerry had made it big. The Rutledge Point project was his brainchild, beating schedule and budget. Jerry knew how to lead and push boundaries. Imprisoned by success, he had no friends. I always wanted to be Jerry, but glad I wasn’t.  

My own station found balance between them. My aloneness remained. Suppressing it, contemplating it all, I had envisioned a different outcome. Jerry and Sally were alone, too, and life was not a salve. I read aloneness is what God touches, a place reserved for Him, narrowing life to Creator, and created. It is the place we all possess only He can enter. No one can live to God for another. No one can bring to God another’s aloneness. 

I heard Sally is back in church and Jerry sold his business to do charity work. And I am at peace.  

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