After decades on the couches of several capable therapists, I know that every character we encounter on the stage of our dreams is us. So what does this dream tell me? That I was adjusting to the realities and maturity of midlife? That my concept of love was evolving? That I had to figure out a way to maintain some lasting relationship with my first love no matter what else happened in life?
I really can’t say. What I can say is that, in one of the happiest of endings, despite going our separate ways and living entirely separate lives that extended to different contents, partners, marriages, and crises, Phoebe and I eventually reconnected and somehow cultivated a lifelong bond with one another. We have a friendship that is without question as life-affirming and enriching and invaluable – and certainly more enduring – then the lightning bolt of our high school romance.
We’d have dinners together when I occasionally traveled to California on business, send one another email updates on what was happening in our respective lives and marriages, and catch up periodically by phone.
Just the other day I called her to find out how she was faring in the pandemic lockdown. So much about us both has changed over the many decades of life, but voices can remain as fixed as fingerprints. When I heard hers on the line, it was precisely as it was 50 years ago when, as a shy and nervous teenager, I walked over to the Seven-Eleven in our neighborhood to call her on the payphone outside.
It was as if the phone line connected two dots on our timeline and the half-century of experiences we’d each had in our lives along the way.
“Hey you,” she answered. She was fine, working from home and telling me about the exercise regimen she’d devised, using a small kitchen ladder to work her thighs. We were both doing ok. We were both alive in the world. And still connected.
It was one of those things that have always made me want to write.
MARTIN this is so good. Strong Ink My friend.