Old Friends

Many years back I was in contact with an elementary school classmate who I had not seen in years and suggested to him that we organize a reunion of our 8th grade graduating class, there were 90 of us and it would have marked 30 years. We began to track people down but quickly found a lack of interest and abandoned the reunion. It would have been interesting to see the evolution of all those young adolescents, but for me, it would have been most interesting to re-connect with my best friends. The years of my childhood at school were formative in my development. There were four of us boys that hung out every Saturday afternoon for years—Danny, Nat, Steven—those three were my best friends. I was the one who would walk the mile or so to their neighborhood and whichever one I was visiting the others would join us there.
This past week in Jerusalem I connected with two of the three boys—now men, grayed and approaching 60. In typical Kabbalah fashion, Danny Wolf approached my older sister in the parking lot of the mall we were about to enter. He remembered her and introduced himself as a “friend of your brother”—I was standing to her right and so she turned to me and said to Danny, “You mean David?” Danny looked right through me—and then he adjusted to the seen reality. We had not crossed paths in nearly 40 years. Danny was still where we left off—a Rabbi and teacher in the Yeshiva he attended post high school. I recognized his pleasant smile and his gravelly voice. We exchanged emails. In elementary school Danny and I had been the closest of friends, he was the acknowledged genius of our class. The other genius, Nat Berman, was another one of us four; we were in contact a few years ago as he was transitioning from distinguished law professor to academic Kabbalist.
When our eighth grade teacher announced that 3 students had been selected for an honors project (a full week off at the library) I was shocked to learn that Danny and Nat were to be joined by me. If we were three musketeers, I was not aware of how I deserved to be in their company. Later I realized that I brought emotions to our threesome—an EQ that was a complement to their prodigious IQs.
There was a 4th musketeer, Steve Waldman, who I became even friendlier with through high school and college years. He has lived in Israel for the last 30 years. I called to arrange for us to meet. My wife Rita has poked fun at my calling Steven my best friend (we had not seen each other in over 10 years) but within a few minutes of being with him it became clear to her that we are not just friends, we are soul brothers. We had but a few precious hours to spend together—Steven, his wife Mina and some of his children and ours. It was magic. I have always felt seen by him. We were fully present—in the moment of a brief encounter. There was some reminiscing but the highlight of the evening was a sing-song sung by Eva about the three little bears and Goldilocks. Life was still flowing, children and grandchildren, new people to meet or be re-introduced to as they are now, and ideas to share. Thanks to a soul brother.
We agreed to stay in touch—we have made this promise before and it was unfulfilled. Perhaps this time it will be different. Either way the sweetness of being seen, if even for a moment, is a sweetness that lasts for eternity.

1 Comment

Katheen O'Brien · June 17, 2016 at 1:41 am

I love this, David. Thanks for sharing your experience. I’ve been thinking about you, Rita and your delightful daughters in Israel. I hope it has been a wonderful trip for all of you.

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