I saw someone yesterday who I don't see very much, and we went to lunch. We've known each other for a long time, and going to lunch is one of my favorite things to do. So hypothetically there are a lot of things that I suppose I could say about this whole lunch experience. I could say that I had a sandwich, or that the light in the restaurant was quite glowy and nice, and that there was headline news and sports on the big bar televisions. I could also say, at the risk of being as overtly shallow as I may be inside, that my hair did not behave in any way yesterday and that always knocks me a bit off kilter (as I can usually count on my hair, generally speaking). Or I could maybe more appropriately say that there are some connections that inexplicably matter more than others, for reasons both mystical and mundane, or I wonder if they just hang around because they have nowhere else to go. But maybe that's all a little too deep for my purposes here, and you know it anyway, because we all experience a connection of that kind at some point or another.
But what I really want to say about yesterday - the only instructive thing, anyway, or at least I think so - was that it held a really wonderful moment that to anyone else but me would no doubt seem unremarkable. I looked at this person across the table, and I spontaneously laughed out loud, from somewhere inside me that I couldn't have predicted existed before it happened. I relaxed. It was the truest laugh about nothing that I'm capable of, I think, and it summed up every ancient thing about us, since I first knew him, I think. It was some kind of acknowledgement of something - I'm not sure what. Time, maybe. The innate lunacy of life. The better way to feel about something.
I can't tell you when I've laughed like that. When I thought about it later as I was driving to the beach, doing that thing I involuntarily do where I try to figure out every single last thing about everything that I think, feel, do and say, "joy" was the word that kept rising to the surface. I batted it down like a too-small fish for fifty miles or so, because I thought it was stupid, and if you had any more context for this, you would too. "Joy? Please," you might say. But that was it, and I think this was an opportunity to trust my intuition. At their very best our most important relationships should definitely bring us joy, and in remembering, even after it's long past, if you can find it - well, you may step as lightly as I did yesterday after the fact.
What I think I'm trying to clumsily say is that it's rare that moments like this bring me face to face with parts of myself that I'd forgotten for a variety of reasons - force, time, entropy. And it was good to know that far from killing me with sadness or sending me down a bad emotional road, it actually made me happy instead. There was no other baggage involved.
This made a lot more sense in my head before I started writing it, which is actually usually the other way around. The writing usually fleshes out the whacked out fragments in my head, but in this case I think I had it straighter there. The bottom line is that it appears that I do indeed love my life. I don't know what it is or what it means or when I push on my arm and feel flesh, what that really is either. I've walked some difficult road for the most part against my will, and felt some really strong feelings about a million things in three and a half decades. I've invested an awful lot in matters of the heart - in things that in the moment seemed really important, even if they hurt me. And sometimes I still hurt although I know I've gotten much pickier about all of that, and what I will allow it to do to me. But the deal is that yesterday I learned again that I can look back, and still find laughter where I thought it had long since become impossible.
It was a useful experience. It lightened my load. It reminded me that change is possible, both inside of me and everywhere swirling around outside too, because honestly sometimes I forget that. And it also reminded me that no matter how helpless I've felt in the face of some really awkward and difficult situations (and that's really, really helpless at times, let me tell you) the tide can still turn in spite of my most embedded and stubborn feelings to the contrary. And when it does, I can feel the gratitude for that, and even a little bit of joy.
I think this was the gift that the end of May held for me.