Monday, August 17, 2009

PACT ...

While we were still living in London, my friend Paula asked me if she could give a friend of hers my email address. She spoke about a family of three who had also arrived in the UK from South Africa. Paula wanted DDTF to look at the husband’s resume to see if he could introduce him to people who could assist with finding work.

I received the resume and responded to the wife explaining to her that I was about to leave for a week’s vacation in South Africa and immediately on my return I was going in for knee surgery. I told her that once I was back on my feet, I would get in contact as we should meet. She replied to me saying that she was in fact also going “home” to South Africa as she too was undergoing knee surgery. Hers was more complicated than mine and as they were so new to the UK, it would be easier for her to recuperate in South Africa where her family could assist with taking care of her baby son. We went on to exchange one or two more emails but never got around to meeting.

Some months later I was invited to a mutual friend of mine and Paula’s for tea one Saturday afternoon. I have mentioned before that Paula was like my publicist in London. All the friends I made there I met through her. While standing in the kitchen chatting to some of the other women there, I got speaking to Lauren. After a short while, I realized that this was the person I had exchanged emails with those many months ago. Once we established who each of us were, discussed our knee surgery experiences and sat down to tea, the connection was instant. We exchanged phone numbers and promised to speak to each other soon.

The Monday following the tea party I called her and in the good humor that we share, I told her that I know it sounded insane, but I was so excited about having met her, that I felt like I wanted to date her! She agreed. We laughed and spoke, and the rest as they say, is history.

It was just about a year later that we left the UK for the States. By the time we departed, Lauren and I had gone on to secure a wonderful friendship even though it had only been for a year. We went back to London after a year in the States for a short visit, and that was the last time we saw each other. In spite of the time and distance, our friendship has continued to grow. Our contact has gone in phases. Sometimes weeks can go by and we don’t speak to each other or exchange an email. It doesn’t matter. Whenever we do speak or email, we carry on where we left off as if no time has passed.

When we left London, Lauren and I made a pact. I do not recall how this came to be or why other than out of our mutual love for the Beatles, particularly John Lennon. The pact we made was that I would not visit Strawberry Fields without her.

The news of her visit came as a complete surprise about three months ago. Unbeknown to me, she had been texting with DDTF to try and plan the arrival as a complete surprise to me. They decided it would be easier if I knew about it. This did not detract from the surprise. I was overjoyed to learn that Lauren her husband, Craig and the now three kids, would all be visiting in August.

I mentioned this to another friend of mine here when visiting for dinner one night. When we got to my friend Merle’s house, I noticed a photograph her daughter had taken of a friend of hers. She had taken this picture of her friend on the beach and was now giving it to her as a gift. It was a great shot of her friend jumping in the air and she timed it so that she captured the moment with both her friend’s feet off the ground. It was in a particularly pretty frame which I admired, too.

A couple of weeks later Merle came over to my house for dinner. She handed me some photos and a frame. Some of the photos were from her son’s recent Bar Mitzvah celebration. She explained to me that I should read the message on the back of the one photo as her daughter had specifically sent this for me, with a frame like the one I had admired along with the pic of her friend.

I read the message on the back of the photo before actually looking at the shot.
“Hope you like this photo I took in NYC –
heard you’re a fan of peace as well. :) xoxo Lara B.”
I turned the pic over and when I realized what it was, I got cold shivers and tears in my eyes. Merle told me she had reacted in a similar way because she had not ever told her daughter about the pact I had with Lauren. I had shared this with Merle because I said to her that it had always been difficult for me to turn down many invitations and opportunities to go to Central Park for the nearly eight years we have been living here.

I have not ever been to Central Park because I knew that if I did go, I would not be able to restrain myself from going to Strawberry Fields. The most difficult time was when the Gates exhibition was in the park as I had really wanted to see it.

Getting the photo from Lara B. without her knowledge of this story in my life, so soon after learning that Lauren was coming to visit was remarkable. It was a prelude to what I expect is going to be a wonderful reunion that is scheduled to stat in about four hours from now.

On August 31st, our family celebrates its 8th year of living in the USA. I expect we might crack a bottle of Champagne and eat some strawberries in Central Park a few days ahead of the 31st as Lauren leaves before that.

There is something very rewarding about giving someone your word and then keeping it. It takes a moment and turns it into something you will remember for ever. I can’t think of a better way of honoring my friend than of having kept our pact.

Thanks, Lara B!