The Right Time

The Right Time

An empty cafe; perfect for us. We need the quiet so we can focus on each other’s precious words. We go in and sit down by a table that hugs the wall. A young, adorable guy takes our order. He brings us apple cider with pieces of apple floating on top and tea with mint leaves. Drinks are perfect for us now; they’re easy to talk through. When the music gets too loud, we ask Mr. Adorable to turn it down. We are very focused on hearing one another.

Our connection goes back almost 40 years – to ninth grade and then on to high school. We were philosophers-in-training with conversations inevitably finding their way back to our existential questions on life.

Hours passed in intellectual stimulation and then laughter rolled in to pull us out of the muck. We laughed hard and spoke deeply. And then there was the music. Ah, her sweet, soft, melodic voice that accompanied her guitar. Songs on life and death, war and peace, love and loss, in both Hebrew and English. As I sat on the floor listening and quietly singing along, I was like the bird perched on the tree branch outside her window. For although the words were intense, her light voice carried me up. Our friendship nestled in my soul.

College brought us to different tracks of life and eventually we went our separate ways, oceans apart. She returned to her home in Israel and I remained in the States. We saw each other only twice during the next three and a half decades – brief reunion-like interludes.

My middle-age journey prompted me to sort through years of saved cards and letters as I looked to rediscover myself before family life and responsibilities took hold. Safira’s card appeared, with its three sentences. Her words, written 35 years ago, now resonated deeply within me. I e-mailed her the words of her card and wrote her of the tremendous significance it held for me at this particular time in my life. The flame of friendship was reignited.

On a Sunday night in Jerusalem, a cafe beckons to us. It knows our need – to reconnect.

Mr. Adorable understands. He leaves us alone with our drinks, asking us only once if we want or need anything else. ‘No, we have everything we need right here, right now,’ Safira answers in Hebrew, to which I nod in agreement with tears in my eyes. A lifetime later, with children grown and laugh lines deeply set around our mouths, we are visibly aware of the passage of time. Yet our souls go back many years as we pick up where we left off.

This time our existential issues hone in on mid-life. Hours pass in intense conversation and laughter until I realize I need to catch a few hours of sleep before going to the airport. I am leaving Israel with a wonderful gift – a renewed friendship.

The Jerusalem Post

March 2008


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