Thursday, May 27, 2010

Approximate Bookends

I'm told you never step into the same river twice because both you and the river have changed so my Tuesday was enjoyable because I know, or think I do, to not make more of it than it was. I had an opportunity to host someone I hadn't seen in twenty-six years. I'm starting to think the key to my relationships is to ration having to deal with me. For instance....

Back in 2005, I had a friend from Rutgers, Nat (he was on contrapuntal harmony if you clicked on the link, btw), whom I hadn't seen since 1981 come up from Jersey and spend the day, for no other reason than he could. I haven't mellowed nor have I aged well and my toxicity is still pretty lethal but when you space visits by a quarter of a century, I can be survived. Who knew?

Lee and I, on the other hand, correspond on a regular, often repetitive, basis. He supplies the former and I mostly the latter and there's one or two others with whom we exchange notes, but he and I live in the same state and as I'm sure you remember from geography, Connecticut is so vast it takes days to drive across it. (It does when I'm driving it; you can ask my wife and kids about the night we went from Waterford, Connecticut, to Westerly, Rhode Island, without ever going anywhere near where we live in Norwich. No wonder my children are nervous driving in The Ocean State, it's sneaky.)

Lee offered about ten days ago, based on what was going on in his work and his life, to mosey over for a visit this past Tuesday at mid-morning and we could catch up. He and I worked for the same military organization, same crop/different fields, back in the day when none of the senior people in charge knew what they were doing and if they hadn't had us, Rik, Dave and The Other Bill and a few others, why it would've been grim. And we are, a little more than quarter of a century later, pretty good impersonations of the very people we disliked back then. And look at the kids these days and their lazy and disrespectful ways! They are nothing like we were, except for the parts that are exactly like us.

I was delighted to see him, though chagrined that he recognized me before I realized he was him (or him was he?). Since we'd set this visit up I had a need for some expert advice in an old area of my job that I'm working to return to after a long time away. Lee and I weren't shoe-shopping buddies back in the day but we'd gotten along pretty well in an organization that didn't breed lifetime friendships and it was great to hear his adventures, great and small, since arriving back in the land of the round doorknobs, and especially to listen to his thoughts on my situation and his always-thoughtful recommendations.

John Lennon offered, "Life is what happens while you're busy making other plans" and between us, our plans and lives took us and our families to places and faces we couldn't have dreamt of in the days of Bertramstrasse 6. Can you imagine us years from today, sharing a park bench quietly? I think, based on a projected visit in 2036, the next time around we won't do quite as much walking. I just hope we still have the strength for the talking and the kindness of listening.
-bill kenny

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