May 17, 2011


For his birthday, I recently took a friend to lunch at an Italian restaurant. I would have loved a glass of wine but as he wanted none, I also refrained. He would have loved a bite of my dessert if I had ordered it, but I seldom eat sweets. While he sat amazed that he’d turned 60, I was dismissive. In a few months I’d be 75. I would exchange my years for his, I told him. And so we sat like two cogs, a little out of sync, yet eager to support one another.

That we are capable of engaging in conversation at all comes as a surprise to me. He enjoys all manner of sports. I loathe bouncing balls of any size or shape. He is eclectic in his music tastes. I stick to the classics. Still, after 30 years of friendship we’ve managed to create a common ground.  


What I like most about my friend is his kind heart. I value that quality above all else in a person. And so we sit together to celebrate his birthday, sometimes in silence, sometimes touching upon a subject where we know there is agreement. As to the differences, we keep a respectful distance. Our years of varied opinions have survived because of our years of trust. Thinking of Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s “Gift from the Sea,” shemight have puzzled over our friendship as she did about the double-sunrise shell:

          “I hold two sunrises between my thumb and finger. Smooth, whole, unblemished shell, I wonder how its fragile perfection survived the breakers on the beach.”