I bumped into my best friend from middle school, DS, in the subway yesterday, waiting on the uptown 6 platform in the belly of Grand Central.
He and I have always been close–even after he moved, then I moved, then we both moved close-ish to each other; then lo and behold, as was foretold when we were both wee things, we both wound up in New York. My parents had been supportive of him when his parents had split-up (the first time), and his mother has been supportive of me through my divorce.
In a quirky, but not unexpected turn of fate (if you know me at all), it turned out that my exhusband’s mother had grown up literally across the street from DS’s father…out on Long Island. My ex-mother in law had grown up with DS’s father and also, as a nonsequitur I’ll gratuitously insert here, one of my high school guidance counselors.
Now, none of this would be interesting if I were from New York; Long Island; even the tri-state area.
But I went to high school in California.
For a time, I referred to the relationship and the migration of families as The Great North Shore Diaspora…but that inflamed already tense relations with my then-mother-in-law–mostly because I think she had no idea what the hell I was talking about.
But I digress. I saw DS on the subway platform last night–on his way between an alumni event for his university and a basketball game for the school where he teaches; carrying his gym bag from our high school as his coaching bag.
We rode the train and talked; I got off at his stop with him and walked the 8 or 9 blocks home (it was a nice night). But I have no recollection of our conversation. He got married a week or so ago, and I wasn’t at the wedding–it was a tiny wedding in New England–better I wasn’t there. He was at mine; but better I wasn’t at his. We talked a little about the wedding. That’s mostly what I remember.
(But looking at him I thought about California.
I had just come from California two days before; come from my mother’s birthday party.
We had landed, late, at LAX. I am always late into Los Angeles these days when I go there. Then we’d driven to the valley where my parents are; then slept; then back to downtown LA for the party; the back to the valley; then back to the airport before the sun. Twenty-seven hours total.
In the midst of all of that, my father, several martinis into the night, said:
This new guy, doyoulovehimdoyoulikehim? I asked you that when you got married, you know.
Holy Christ, Dad. The ink isn’t even dry yet.
At my wedding, my big, lavish wedding–celebrated downtown, in view of where the birthday party was, with a reception on the coast–my father had recited a litany of the longevity of the marriages in my family.
They are all marriage-minded. You are married, or you are not. And if you are not, then you are seeking to be.
We flew back to New York after the party. I slept the whole flight. The next day my mother called and said:
What’s his family like. Sounds like we’d like them. We’ll have to meet them.
I’m sure you would like them. And…no. The ink isn’t even dry yet.
In some ways, it feels like vultures, circling a carcass. Waiting to pick the bones. Like family members, throwing out someone’s belongings while the tiny, frail body is still gasping for breath in the bed. Give up the ghost; c’mon; it’s over.)
“Mare, Mare!” DS shouted at me, snapping me back to attention.
Somehow, we were standing on the corner of 68th and Third Ave.
“I’m not worried about you,” he said, which he was clearly repeating, “Go to Bermuda with him. Have fun. If it’s serious, it’s serious. If it’s not, time will tell.”
We smiled, hugged and parted ways.
DS has always had an uncanny way of showing up in the moments when most needed.