There you are, plinking and dinking along in your everyday life, quietly sure that you know all the drawers, secret and otherwise, within you and just what they contain. And then you are inundated by a version of amazing grace and what you didn't know had been lost is found.
Forty years ago, I was friends with three Michaels. One of them was my brother, back in America for a time after his move to Australia. The others were friends he made once here and I got to know them as well. To keep this from reading like a game of three-card monte (which Mike is under which card?) described by a woman who can't learn to knit, I will try to keep it simple.
We lived in the same neighborhood, two of them were my neighbors. We spent time together, I think mostly laughing and eating, and I took for granted the fun of being part of their group. There were other friends with other names whom I met. We all had day jobs but, looking back, it seems we had ample time to visit and eat at the late-night coffee shop a few blocks from us. Sometimes I cooked.
My brother returned to Australia and I remained friends with Mike and Mike. Not too long after, I got married and we all spent time together, even when we moved out of town. Then somehow, we slid out of touch.
Saturday I had an assignment from brother Mike. He had a lead on one of the (presumed to be) lost friends, hoping he would also know the whereabouts of the other. I will simply report that all are now accounted for and the domestic ones are as near as they once were.
In talking with first one, then the other as I collected information for my brother, I had no sense of years, decades passing. My occasionally porous brain could reach for and hold facts, bringing them forth without the familiar...wait, let me think...
In talking with them, I was not remembering what the time had been like, I was reliving it. I was suddenly 40 years younger and could feel, in mind and body, a youthful, unencumbered happiness. It had been gone so long I had forgotten it ever existed, thriving and free of expectations. I re-experienced the ease of their company, and myself as alive and alight in their presence. How I have missed them, the person I was able to be among them, perhaps a true self that long ago. And here I thought she was just freshly unearthed, a new find. What distraction and distress had taken up residence in my days that I let all that get away?
That so much time had passed we would not have recognized each other in passing was of no consequence. My phone-it-in detective work was all but done for me; the timing was perfect. Had I called a few weeks earlier, all the parts might not have come together. The symmetry was surprising, yet organic. Of course, how else could it have gone.
My brother is now able to reach out and know they are there. They can begin to tell their stories. I can do the same. For the moment, awareness of grace so profound it makes the top of my head feel as though it is opening like a 1960s convertible, is a fragile artifact I wish to hold and shelter. I awake at night and gratitude spreads across me like a family reunion picnic table; is it possible that this silly joy is mine?
I am aware of needing to decompress from having flown so high after so long. I am entirely clear about happy milestones that were reached during the past nearly half-century. I am also readjusting to sharing my clothes and hairbrush with a missing twin who disappeared into forgetfulness, who went out for a loaf of bread and turned up nearly 40 years later, looking to my eyes the way she did the day she vanished. I am still absorbing the fact that a vague emptiness has been filled. I didn't realize it would be filled with me.