I hadn’t seen my friend Myv for fifteen or twenty years. Something came between us, I don’t know what, and we lost touch with each other. Then I heard she moved away. Years and years went by. I found her on Facebook and sent a friend request that languished. More years passed.
I thought often of Myv for I was quite fond of her. We had a lot in common and we had, at a certain time in our lives, spent good times together. She read many of the same books I did, loved many of the same authors I loved, and she looked forward with relish to the Sunday New York Times Book Review. Sometimes we would have Sunday supper together and talk about the books reviewed there.
Myv told me she maintained a running list of the books she wanted to own and read. When they came out in paperback, she would purchase them and check them off the list. Her patience and her enduring passion — waiting a whole year for a book she really wanted to read — impressed me. There are few people who can converse as thoroughly and as enthusiastically about books as Myv, and this might be a source of disappointment to her. It makes sense that she reads and rereads Christopher Hitchens. He is a spiritual soul mate. She even named a pet Sports Fan in honor of Richard Ford’s book “Sportswriter.”
I saw Richard Ford at BookExpo America last spring,
and I sent Myv this picture of him.
He looks good and his new book,
"Let Me Be Frank with You," came out November 4.
Myv is a wonderful cook. She is an artist who, to my amazement, can paint and watch TV at the same time. And she can fit herself into any social situation and hold her own. I used to love looking at her gorgeous journals full of notes she made in thick, black ink. She chooses wide-nibbed pens and writes in bold, block letters. I read her as daring and unabashed. I see her as incapable of holding back, as compelled to make a strong impression. Myv lives her aesthetic. She is her aesthetic.
Myv is the first friend I made when my daughter and I moved, alone and with very limited resources, to Cape Ann from New Hampshire. We met in a casual, loosely structured group of men and women gathered to discuss personal issues. I had just left a full, rich professional life, a long-term relationship and scores of good friends. I was starting over from scratch. And there was Myv, someone who caught my interest immediately.
We had a lot of fun till it all stopped.
Thanksgiving came twice this year for me. On November 27 I had a fabulous time eating, talking, joking, playing charades with good friends and family. We laughed a lot. It was as close to the ideal Thanksgiving as I have ever had though there was little tradition to it beyond all the special dishes that cleaved to the dictates of habit and preference.
And then, after driving from NYC to Rockport, after cooking all day, after washing and drying load upon load of sopping wet towels when my house sprang leaks during Wednesday’s Nor’easter, we got in the car again and drove another 170 miles. We drove north and west. We drove up into a network of snow-covered roads off the Kancamagus Highway in New Hampshire. So utterly beautiful, this place where every pine needle was encased in snow — a high-definition moment of lasting wonder struck through with a sense of unease, of navigating on ice, of going blind into the unknown. I gasped, awestruck and unnerved. Defenseless. We drove on and the thermometer plummeted. We drove on till the road became impassable and we turned around.
Try again. Don’t give up.
This is Myv's front yard. The shed decomposing to the left
of the picnic table is the first cabin built on this site.
To the right is the kitchen for that cabin.
We tried another road, drove on till we found Myv, living in a semi-winterized cabin, heating with wood, smiling, welcoming us as if those twenty years had never come between us. Sometimes twenty years feels like the blink of an eye. Sometimes twenty years is nothing more than the blink of an eye.
And that’s how it often is with friends. We find each other early in life and we bond. Then we move away, pull away, go away, drift off. However it happens, we find ourselves apart. We get busy with work and kids and lovers and we lose track, not because we don’t love each other, but because we can go decades with little in common. Something triggers a reunion, be it renewed proximity or a health scare or a fierce longing for what once was. In my case, it was all of the above.
We arrive with smiles, some goodies, and anxious concern. If a dog can be a harbinger of good will, then Myv’s huge puppy, bounding and bouncing, spoke for all of us. We are so happy for this moment.
Here is Myv's cabin and, of course,
her big and exuberant puppy, Desmond.
Myv took this photo before the snowstorm.
We stand at Myv’s threshold and take a long breath. It’s time. We stomp our boots till the snow and ice fall away, we hand off the bag of treats and the bag of books, we hug each other hard, and then we step inside and pick up where we left off, closing the door on the dark night and the crunch and squeak of the snow and the slice of moon and the vast wilderness that holds Myv here, happy and game, as always, and keenly interested in what comes next.