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Sometimes we turn a page in our lives, and sometimes we start a new chapter.  At just a few points in life we realize that we are now leaving "Part the Second", for example, and entering "Part the Third".  This awareness, it seems to me, is one of the few benefits of getting older.  

Last evening my wife and I had dinner with an old college roommate that I had not seen in fourteen years.  We were more than just roommates, we were very good friends and after we graduated we were on-the-road travelling companions for a short while until our new-found freedom took us separate paths.  We connected here and there over the ensuing thirty-four years.  Occasionally he would call on our mutually shared day of birth.  The phone would ring, and I would answer and hear his voice singing, "Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you."

I remember my friend telling me in 1980 with a twinkle in his eyes, as we considered what we might do after completing our college studies, "you know it's like John Lennon wrote:  life is what happens to you while you are making other plans".  I think he kind of got it, even as a young twenty-two year old.  It really didn't resonate with me, other than as the kind of phrase that sticks with you for some reason.

We met in NYC for dinner.  My wife and I were in town for our daughter's graduation and we had an open evening.  My friend lives just outside the city in NJ so he drove in with his wife.  The three hours were just barely sufficient to get a sense of the way that our lives had "happened".

He lost his first wife to cancer about seven years ago.  They had four beautiful children together.  I had been able to meet her a couple of times.  They were living on the West Coast and back then I did some business travelling that took me out there.  That job changed and the trips west stopped and we lost touch.  He told me that a few months after his wife passed he was crossing the street in a crosswalk and someone ran the light and hit him.  It was a hit-and-run.  His left leg was broken in five places, but fortunately that was the extent of the damage.  It was a rough stretch with four kids to care for and being laid up.

Now he has a "blended" family with his current wife and her two from her first marriage plus the youngest from his first marriage.  Of course, life being what it is, the couple was blessed with a new baby three years ago.  I thought about that as our youngest just finished college...about having a three-year old to raise.  That is a lot of "happening".

I couldn't share too much of the course of my life in the time we had together.  My major events haven't been so much external events but the kind of thing that sometimes happens in mid-life that forces one to descend and then, with time and grace sufficient, re-emerge as someone somehow different yet familiar.  It was easier to share stories and pictures about the kids.

These kinds of encounters don't happen often enough, it seems.  Maybe that's what makes them special.  I hope that we don't wait another fourteen years before sharing what has happened to us while we were making other plans.

Originally posted to Wonton Tom on Fri May 24, 2013 at 04:20 PM PDT.

Also republished by Personal Storytellers and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Life is ongoing (12+ / 0-)

    and relentless it just keeps moving and change is the only constant. I look at the floor and I see it needs sweeping. We all just keep being moved forward, no other place to go. Our personal stories and histories merge with the stream we're caught in. I do take succor in the random encounters with my past that reaffirm my 'other plans' and somehow make those plans part and parcel of being alive and willing to address the now without letting go of what was shared in our pasts. I hope you once again in this life encounter the people and friends that were important and wove your history as well as theirs. A good dairy that reinforces the threads that bind.

    I don't know why this song came to mind but it did.

  •  Evocative, soul-heart diary, Wonton Tom. (11+ / 0-)

    Your writing put me there..

    The all of it resonates with me; this part in particular-so beautifully written- I believe speaks so eloquently for many:

    My major events haven't been so much external events but the kind of thing that sometimes happens in mid-life that forces one to descend and then, with time and grace sufficient, re-emerge as someone somehow different yet familiar
    It is a special gift to have in one's life a friendship of such length & breadth.  Savor, treasure & hold this gift close to heart always.

    Thank you for sharing; for making my heartsmile..

  •  Good diary and yes (8+ / 0-)

    life throws a few curve balls along the way.

    We the People have to make a difference and the Change.....Just do it ! Be part of helping us build a veteran community online. United Veterans of America

    by Vetwife on Fri May 24, 2013 at 08:46:56 PM PDT

  •  Indeed there are benefits to growing older (7+ / 0-)

    our youth-gaga culture would totally sweep under the rug.

    We're better at anticipating outcomes, at thinking situations through from all sides. We can easily put ourselves in another's shoes, if we're lucky; we're less judgmental. We know ourselves better. We take our own strengths and wants more seriously. We compensate better for our own weaknesses, and they don't mortify us, anymore.

    Some of it's the same for men and women. In other respects, maturity is a particularly radical state for women. This is the reason for the shrillness and hysteria of the voices in our culture pronouncing women "used-up" and "past their sell-date" after a certain age.

    Patriarchy depends on women "knowing their place," staying youthful and naive, sitting down and doing as they're told. Mature women, particularly, tend to flout those standards.

    It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

    by karmsy on Sat May 25, 2013 at 07:37:16 AM PDT

  •  I feel like whining. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Joy of Fishes

    Your post resonated with me today on a number of levels.  First of all: it's my sister-in-law's birthday. I love her. Normally I would send something to her to post on her Facebook page. We don't exchange gifts, but we do exchange acknowledgments.
        We normally exchange acknowledgements of all kinds of things: the progress of her garden, the progress of her job.
         But.
         I published a book. I sent out a little email to all of the people with whom I normally exchange acknowledgements of some sort: exchanges about minor life events, and sometimes big events.
        Dead silence.
        I can't articlulate how hurt I am by this. My guess is that nobody responded out of fear that the book would be bad, leaving them stumped for something to say. After all. it is a Kindle Direct, and the truth is there are a lot of clumsily written vanity pieces in the Kindle Store.
        But mine isn't one of them. I tried my stories out on people who don't know me to get an objective response. Two of my stories made the Community Spotlight here. Another one was posted, ad received positve feedback, at a different website. I paid for a professional edit.
       And anyway, how hard is it to just say something polite? I bought a book and left a positve review for somebody here at Kos just to be supportive, and the book wasn't the sort of thing I read. Why couldn't my friends and family be supportive of me?
        I don't know what to do, beyond whining to you all about this. It's my sister-in-law's birthday. Normally I would send her a "Happy Birthday." I know that's what I ought to do. But I don't want to. I want to sulk and pout and ignore her birthday. Just like I want to ignore my sister  the next time she sends pictures of her paintings and ignore my friend the next time he sends an update about his surgery and ignore ...
        But friendship isn't supposed to be a deal: I pay attention to you if you pay attention to me. It's supposed to be based on ,liking of the other person with the paying-of-attention as a way of expressing that liking.
       And I still like my friends and love my family. So I will send a little note to my sister-in-law. And I will try to forget about being mad.
        But it's going to take awhile.

    Second star on the right and straight on til morning

    by wren on Sun May 26, 2013 at 06:02:11 AM PDT

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