It was Wednesday of our week in New York before I saw Leslie.
She had come into the city with the family from Sweden, her son and his friend, to take in a matinee of "Wicked."
Kristy and I were attending the matinee of "The Best Man.". Wow, what a show with a veritable murderer's row for a cast - James Earl Jones, Angela Landsbury, John Laroquette, Eric McCormick, Candace Bergan, Michael McKean - unreal, and while the 3rd row seats were an admitted splurge, it was something to see.
Leslie told us to meet them at the West Bank Cafe, just off the theater district. Leslie's husband, Victor, is an actor, and this is a favorite spot of his. Kristy and I got there first and had time to sit at the bar to take in the atmosphere.
I wasn't at all anxious about the dinner. I was excited, hopeful even.
She walked in several minutes later with her party. Her gait was familiar. In fact I recognized her by her walk as she came in before I could make out her features inside the darkened restaurant. Making my way toward her from the bar she noticed me coming toward her. Hugs, introductions, oohs and ahhs of how we look given the time that's past...and to our table we went.
I was taken by how quickly she and I struck back up after these many years. It was minutes...almost instantly. It was as if we'd all gone through a semester break and were back at Hogwarts as the new year begins.
It is a wondrous thing when there are relationships like that. I have a few. I cherish them all. Certain people operate at the same frequency. We may look and act differently. We may come from different places. But when placed in proximity with one another there is resonance. It is immediate and undeniable. Leslie and I resonate. Years of distance didn't matter. The current moment did.
Shortly after taking to our table, Victor arrived after having spent the day at work filming an upcoming HBO movie. As interested as I was in meeting a working actor, I was even more curious to meet the man who married my friend. Leslie is a formidable woman ( I seem to associate myself with such people - - throughout my life). It was going to take a particular spirit to honor her nature and while building a life of meaning.
Our dinner was wonderful. We didn't linger in small talk. Rather, the comfort we found at table in our fellowship was as satisfying as the food we shared. Their son and his friend were charming (the friend was offering to work me a deal for Mets or Yankees tickets..."no problem, I know people.") The young women from Sweden were there. Camilla and Martina, beautiful young women who had come to New York for the week to see the city and to meet family they never knew they had, were open and curious about everything, even stangers from Tennessee. They took this photo around the dinner table.
Having been aware that the moment of meeting was just a few days away, I felt the need to be certain with Victor that Kristy and I were welcomed to be there. Neither of us wanted to be instrusive on what was so obviously a time of great signficance in this family's life. What the dinner confirmed in me was what I think I already knew. Leslie and I resonate. Leslie and Victor resonate. The transitive property of equality (that's right, I used a mathematics reference) dictates that Victor and I would, too. Not only were we welcomed to be a part of the evening to come, I got the sense the Victor was glad to have someone witness it.
It was indeed a night of confirmations.
Some relationships transend time.
Among the things I've done in my quest of this past year in pursuit of wholeness is to do that which I've never given myself permission to do before - tie the disparate chapters of my life together. No longer sequestered from one another, it is the unity of them as a whole entity that defines me.
The relationships I've been able to touch and re-engage prove to me so powerfully that resonance is real. Any regret I feel for not having pursued this earlier in life is mitigated by the joy I feel now in having done so. But when you're lost in the wilderness, how do you even know where to begin to find your way out?
Answer? You take a step. Both literally and spiritually, you take a step. And I've taken many in the past year. Sometimes those steps are as close as the street outside your door. Sometimes it means you catch a bus at the Port Authority into Jersey to observe a sacramental moment - one of profound grace and power, the moment that says, in the words of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, "Goodness is stronger than evil."
Or as I come to think of it, love wins...always.
Next Dispatch from Renewal Leave: Witness, Part II