For Alan

Were we old friends?  In the very broadest sense of the word, I think.  We traveled in the same pack of prepubescent kids, falling over each other and ourselves like puppies, but far too gawky and awkward to ever be considered really cute.  In retrospect I see us all as adorable and goofy, hypersensitive and phenomenally clueless, not fully prepared to be accountable for our words or deeds, yet quick to pass notes and judgment on the unforgivable behavior of someone else.

So after forty-some-odd years, I drove into DC looking forward to seeing Alan and wondering if I’d recognize him in a crowded lobby.  We are friends on Facebook, so there are some elements of his life that I have seen.  His magnificent wife and daughters – pictures posted which require no artificial light for they seem to glow with the richness of love.  There is no contrivance or pretense; they look like people I would like to know and more importantly, like people who are genuinely enriched by each other.  He has built a successful greeting card company (greatarrow.com – their graphics are really lovely and unique) and is also an extraordinarily gifted photographer.  His photos capture the magnificent moodiness of the sky, the sun in fits of pique.  He has an impressive collection of Stetson hats and wears them well.  All of this is well and good – but how do you find someone in a hotel lobby?  I told him to look for a short, blond woman in her renaissance.

Fortunately, the lobby wasn’t crowded – but I would have known Alan regardless.  Something about his walk (though the Stetson helped).  Bobby used to walk a bit on his toes, Jo’s heels would scuff the cement, Bruce kind of pulled the sidewalk along with each step and Gary had a sort of walk/run.  Alan’s shoulders were a little rounded, his eyes looked directly ahead despite the suggestion of the angle of his head and his feet always seemed to touch the ground gently.  Our pack traveled in relative quiet – our shoes reinforced with layers of rubber. The cooler kids had metal taps on their shoes – stepping in a perpetual dance with sound and rhythm.  Perhaps our development was more muted.  It seemed loud to us, though I think for the most part it reflected sounds only we could hear.

Where do you pick up after lifetimes have passed?  You can’t really say nothing is new, for to the listener everything is new.  I didn’t know he thought I had a great voice, he didn’t know that I thought he had an artistic and thoughtful aspect I always liked.  He designed sets for theatrical productions; I performed in them.  He went to Stuyvesant (a high school for the seriously smart); I went to private school.  We all dispersed for college.  So it goes.

And yet after two and a half hours, we still had stories to tell.  More than the memories of who we once were, we shared an understanding of those invisible threads – the ones that constitute the preliminary stitches which outlined the design of who we became.  He became a warm, loving, devoted, creative man.  I chose a career that required decades of performance and appealing to wide audiences.

Alan will return to DC next year for another annual meeting.  I hope we meet again same time, next year.  Were we old friends?  We are older, and yes, I believe we are friends.  We share seminal moments in our respective histories, and the comfort to quote Samuel Taylor Coleridge, of “a sheltering tree”.

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29 thoughts on “For Alan

  1. How wonderful to meet up with someone after 40 some years. I often wonder what happened to some old friends I’ve lost contact with. It just seems strange to have known someone and then you never know what has happened to them. People can say what they will about Facebook, but it does have some good aspects to it.
    This is a wonderful post.

    • Thank you very much!! My best friend from those years is coming into town next week and though she and I have seen each other a couple of times since we ‘found’ each other again two years ago, we were able to pick up where we left off all those years ago..

  2. I hope Alan gets to read this because the language you use is so visual, so emotional (for those of us who bore witness to us all coming of age), and so kinesthetic as it appealed to all of my senses. How lucky for all of us that while time has done its job, the friendships developed in those formative years were so blissfully perfect that time cannot, nor will we allow it to, annul them. What a beautiful job you’ve done describing our friend. Kudos to him for his accomplishments in the work force and on the home front. Brava to you for bringing it home for us to read.

    • I was looking forward to hearing your thoughts – it brings so much back in the most lovely relief. It is so reassuring to know that you ‘felt’ was I was trying to capture..xoxo

  3. Social media today definitely has its advantages. Hopefully you and Alan will continue a friendship and maybe reconnect and plan a reunion with all the old gang.

  4. Awww, honey, the details of this meeting are so beautifully rendered, as all of your stories are. I am completely enamored of the way you write; lines like these are just so beautifully wrought: “More than the memories of who we once were, we shared an understanding of those invisible threads – the ones that constitute the preliminary stitches which outlined the design of who we became.”

    You’re a gift, sweetie, not only to your friend of so many years ago, but to all of us who are riding along on the Karma Truck with you. I’m sending you a big ole SQUEEZE full of love and admiration, not only for what you do, but more importantly for who you ARE, in every fiber of your being….. xoxox, L

    • The beauty of old friends and the magic of new ones…and I value your opinion so much – and value our friendship inestimably..I’m so glad you liked this one – it was a pleasure to write. Love you Lori..xoxoxo

  5. Your post is richly woven with warmth, grace, humility, and elegance. Your writing style is so unique that I believe I could pick a post you wrote out of a list of 50 other bloggers’ posts. I always enjoy your posts. Thank you, Mimi, for yet another wonderful glimpse into your life and spirit.
    Russ

    • Your praise is so high – and I’m humbled. Thank you Russ – for your generosity, your kindness and for your visits. I am the better for them all..Mimi

  6. I can feel my mood change when email notifications for your post come in. Settle in my chair. And anticipate GOOD coming. And it comes.

    “More than the memories of who we once were, we shared an understanding of those invisible threads – the ones that constitute the preliminary stitches which outlined the design of who we became”

  7. I love this – I feel like I was sitting there with you, invisible to the two of you, but your words and descriptions make me feel like I got to listen in. What a wonderful reunion and to have kept a thread of friendship connected all these years, is beautiful. I am so glad you shared this special moment of reconnecting with a wonderful person who is part of your life’s story. xox

    • The funny part is that we had no connection up until two years ago – forty plus years with no connection! But some connections sustain…I’m glad you were ‘there’ with me..xox

  8. Hi Mimi. This is such a wonderful story, and one that many of us can relate to since the invention of facebook! I too, have reconnected with just about every Tom, Dick and Harry from my past (most with wonderful and fulfilling results). HOWEVER, the one person (who shall remain nameless) who I was most looking forward to reconnecting with was my very first love. Well, not really love at 13, but an intense connection just the same. He was the first boy who ever gave me that “tingle-all-over” feeling we all know so well to mean that something wonderful is standing before us. For over a year I followed him around like a love-sick puppy, hanging on every adolescent word he spoke, convinced that he would be my husband one day. In fact, I prayed for nothing else for months and even wrote a little jingle that rhymed with his first name that I would sing like an anthem around my home until my Mother threatened to lock me up in our basement. He-who-shall-remain-unnamed had shoulder-length brown hair and used to carry me around on his shoulders signing “Sunshine on my Shoulders.” He played his guitar and sang to me while I swooned and melted into a little puddle in front of him — it makes me giggle even thinking about it. I think you get the picture 🙂 Anyway, that is what WAS my memory of him! Facebook has now obliterated my wonderful memories of this sweet young man by allowing me to see the man he grew up to be. My adorable little child-hood crush has turned in Jerry Garcia personified, complete with thinning gray hair longer than mine, truck-driver speech and more frescos on his skin than the Sistine Chapel! After responding to several of his e-mails (all of which would make your toes curl), and then politing telling him I was not interested in meeting in Vegas (!), I had to block my sweet crush altogether. I think in years to come we will start to see stories and books written on the effect that social media has had on how we carry our past with us into the future. And sometimes I miss the days when I don’t know how every single person I have ever known has turned out in life (thanks to facebook). There’s something romantic about wondering; holding people in your memory as you last saw them. Sorry to ramble on ….. and I’m sure I am not the only person who made a “friend” of a long-lost friend who is a friend no longer! Hope you are well. xo

    • Laughing and shaking my head at the same time – I think everyone has had a moment like that (although I haven’t looked for my first love, I didn’t look for the second – which sounds far more like your first). And I don’t want to – precisely for the reasons you state. Some things are better left alone in my memory – safe and a little fabricated over time. There is a lot to be said for holding some memories sacred in their blurry state!! Thank you for stopping by and your thoughts!! xox

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