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Thursday, September 19, 2002

Out Of the Blue

Out of the blue, a call comes in from my first wife. I haven’t seen or spoken to her in thirty-two years. Thirty-two years! I can’t recall ever having spoken to someone after that long of a gap.

She’s lost her mother and her husband in the past year and says she’s making the rounds of talking to people from the distant past as part of her therapeutic process. Fair enough. I’m happy to go along. After thirty-two years, the wounds and recriminations are so completely insignificant, they have the weight of an atom.

I notice that the very first thing that each of us wants to know about the other is not family, job history, travels, ups and downs, but “How’s your health?” We’ve reached the age where that’s the top of the list. Hers is fine, and so is mine, knock on wood.

What takes me aback is the voice. Intellectually, of course, I know that she’s in my age bracket. Emotionally, though, it just doesn’t compute that way. I’m hearing the voice of a woman who’s clearly in the last stages of middle age, or early senior-hood—depending on which way you calibrate it. I realize that I must sound the same way to her. It’s a sobering experience. She will always exist in my mind as a fiery young piss-and-vinegar colt.

We remarked on how quickly each of us seemed to grow up after we escaped the torture of mutual blame for our youthful miseries and frustrations in which we were enmeshed. We apologized to each other for having been such immature jerks.

All in all, a good experience. I salute her courage in making the call. Best of all, she seems to have enjoyed her life as much as I’ve enjoyed mine. There have been times when I wondered if things worked out OK for her. It’s nice not to have to wonder anymore.

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