Thursday, February 08, 2007

How to Save a Life

The way we interact and the way we impact each other is often so silent and constant it goes unnoticed, as does our control over it. I have been thinking about how we impact each other’s lives and how funny and quiet and important a thing that is.

I have known S since I was 19. I have only seen him once in the intervening decade. We went on a few dates when I was younger. S was tall and smart and several years older than me. We were so different. He was science, I was art. He was conservative, I was liberal. I was quietly impressed with him, but stubbornly would never have admitted it. When we were together we debated everything. I have no idea if there was a single issue on which we agreed. He was clever and kind but I was young and certain that he didn’t like me very much. When I moved, I’m not sure I even said goodbye. I think I mentioned that I was moving, but I didn’t give him an address or phone number. I didn’t think he would give it a second thought, so I let it go.

He found me six years later, surprised me by telling me that he had thought of me over the years and we saw each other because he was visiting a relative who lived near me at the time. Then we lost touch again. S located me again less than a year ago, thanks to the all seeing eye of the internet. Our lives have changed and a great deal has passed since then, but he’s still someone I am fortunate to know.

Yesterday I received a book in the mail. A book that is perfect for me, something that I would have thought only I would select for myself. Wise Women, a book of beautiful portraits of women between the ages of 65 and 100, accompanied by short quotes from the women themselves. It is perfect for me. I am crazy about it. S saw it online and decided to send it to me. Probably on a whim, not an action of any great significance in his life. But I have had the worst week. My play is about to open, I moved ten million (I counted) boxes into my new home and turned over the keys to my old house and I am uncomfortably aware that my five year anniversary with my ex would have been this week.

It makes for a difficult time. A time when a gift from an old friend, a gift that says, “I get you.” was tremendously needed. That kindness is a small thing to him but meant a lot to me. I opened the box and pulled out this slim volume of exquisite sepia toned photographs. I began reading, poring over glimpses of how full a woman’s life can be, even late in life. The photographs are beautiful and made me smile to think how much I have ahead of me. By some accident of fate this gift arrived in my hands as I was waiting on the steps of my old home, preparing to relinquish ownership and move on to the next phase of my life.

How perfect the universe can be.

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