Thomas Ladron is currently finishing undergrad work in the growing field of Gerontology, the study of aging, at a southern California state university. He has a sense of inner decency, this command of basic human interaction, to immediately draw a person toward him. He listens. He invests in the conversation. At a very low point in my life (in a seemingly bottomless series), he intuited a need I had to just fucking relax and have a beer. He downright insisted. I found a million excuses not to join him, but he shut each one down. I knew then this was someone I’d want to get to know (I’ve not been able to say that about many people in recent years). While most are content to live the usual life in the usual way, questioning little beyond the thought poles of respectable opinion society has delineated (thus far, and no further), he pushes himself to dig. He’s insanely curious about life and his place in it, and when he explained he’d be joining his family on the above trip, I asked for his reflections. This is what I hope will be the first of many entries for guttervox.