Sunday, August 10, 2008

A Fine Game of War

I haven't written much here since my last entry, most likely because I feel like my brain has exploded. While on vacation in mid-July, I received an email, via my web site, from my best friend from childhood, Michael, and I haven't been the same since. We're going to meet for dinner this Friday in what I venture to say will be the most anticipated childhood reunion as any that have ever existed since the beginning of time.

I'm not overstating things when I say that, either. Michael and I (who haven't seen each other in well over 35 years) have been corresponding in email for a couple of weeks now, and he feels the same. The power of this re-established connection has thrown us both for a big, fat loop that neither of us quite understands.

Being the writer I am, I'm constantly a spy in the house of life, looking for clues as to what everything is all about--what things mean, why they happen, who I am, who you are, why we're here, etc. But as I'm at a loss as to what's at the heart of this very old friendship, I'm realizing that perhaps some events in life are simply sudden and magic, just like when they're sudden and tragic. The latter I have an easier time accepting as just a part of life, but the former, while indeed happy, perhaps fills me with an even stranger and deeper dread for reasons that are unclear.

All I know is that this upcoming dinner on Friday will take a certain amount of courage, as I'll be stepping back in time, revisiting the people Michael and I were as innocent children, yet planting something very, very new which doesn't have much precedent in the annals of love stories.

And a love story it is indeed, although of a more curious sort--one that seems beyond romance, venturing into truly unchartered territory. Could it be that Michael and I imprinted on each other as infants and children? Does that explain the power of this reunion? Or did we know each other in some other life, hence this grueling anticipation?

The only thing I now for sure is that Michael and I loved each other as kids, long before we had words to convey such emotions. Michael is five months older than me, and we were introduced in diapers, playing together daily until age 11 or so, shortly after which we both moved out of Newark to different cities. We were fairly inseparable--even our bedroom windows faced each other across the narrow alley that separated our houses--and it was a given that we were always on the same side.

If the game was stickball in the street, we were on the same team; if it was cops and robbers, we were both either the good guys or bad; if it was a fine game of war, we served in the same army unit. As an only child back then, I can see in retrospect how much comfort this gave me--to have this ally who knew me so well, and loved me simply because I was, well, myself. We didn't have to qualify for one another's attention or affection. It was there and it was rock solid, completely independent of achievements or appearances. We knew how to "be" together, and how lovely, how thrilling it would be, to have him back in my life again.

Much has happened to us both in our respective lifetimes. It's hard to know if our life experiences will have no bearing at all on our being together again, or if we've each morphed into people we'll no longer recognize.

One thing is certain: Dinner is on Friday, and it can't come quickly enough.

No comments: