We had gone for a long meandering walk around campus that night. I don't remember what we talked about but, given the length of that walk, I can only assume that we talked about everything. Somehow, we ended up in the gymnasium on central campus. I'm not sure what led us there or why it was open so late at night but we went inside. It was empty, dimly lit and cavernous. We sat on the bleachers and said nothing as we stared down at our hands barely touching as they lay on the hard bench. When our eyes met again, we kissed. It was slow and deep and beautiful in its awkward imperfection. It was the first time I'd ever kissed a woman. It was a beginning. That was the only kiss we ever shared but we became close friends. She continued dating the woman that she is still with today. I began dating a mutual friend of ours and we fell in love and then out of love but remained friends. Over 20 years have passed since that time.
Last Friday night, Zeca had a slumber party to celebrate her 7th birthday. She invited her 3 favorite girls over and we ordered pizza and made ice cream sundaes and watched a movie. They spent hours dancing and giggling with each other until they finally fell asleep. The next morning, I watched the girls as they packed their things and was struck by the unpredictability of life.
When I sat in that quiet gymnasium all those years ago and kissed my friend, I could have never imagined that her daughters would one day stand in my foyer with their arms around my daughter. When I met my first girlfriend on a crowded bus to DC, I could not have pictured her daughter grabbing sausage off of my plate and then running off to play.
One of my favorite lines from "The Way We Were" is, "Wouldn't it be lovely if we were old? We'd have survived all this." The scene is heartbreaking but the line itself has always reminded me of the relativity of time.
This weekend, as I watched my daughter and her friends - the daughters of my long time friends - I couldn't help but think of the mingling of my past and present. I couldn't help but wonder what will have meaning when I reflect on this time of my life 20 years from now.
Perhaps the greatest gift of age is perspective.
We are always beginning, always starting something that will unfold unexpectedly.