Back in the Winter of 2014 I shared a very intimate story about an incredibly unique and treasured friendship.
It was a friendship built on a foundation of unspoken understanding, hand-holding and a lot of Hemingway.
I met my friend, B, during our Junior year of college (and if you have yet to read about it, my college experience was extremely weird). She was sitting on the ground, on the top floor of a musty old building, waiting outside the classroom for which I had been searching.
For which I had been searching
I can’t even say that we were fast friends, because it was quicker than that; we were instant friends.
And that is why I shared our story back in December, a very hard story to write because of all of the emotion attached and love abounding.
But for the purposes of this story, we were waiting outside of a classroom for the first day of our small, Honors class entitled “The Lost Generation” with some explanation about early-twentieth-century literature.
There were five of us in that class. That class changed our lives.
Our Professor, Dr. M, is a Hemingway scholar (she knows the family), an accomplished author and researcher, a passionate instructor, and, most recently, a primary consultant for the multi-media art exhibit “Making It New: The Art and Style of Sara & Gerald Murphy.”
She is it.
As the two English majors in the group, B and I bonded to Dr. M, as she swept us away into a world we had known so little about. She mentored both of us for our theses and we had the most indescribable relationship, the three of us. I can’t find the right words.
Connected. Eccentric. Passionate. Eclectic. Warm. Deep.
In the years since graduation, I have slowly lost touch with Dr. M, though I have kept up on all of her accomplishments (which are many) and think of her incredibly often.
And B is still my B.
Okay. Got it? Backstory completed.
This past Saturday, I traveled to New York for B’s 30th Birthday Celebration, a most decadent tea at the plaza hosted by her sister. I had suggested that we make the day themed, dressing as if we were women from the 1920’s. I got each girl a headpiece to wear and the women wore pearls and feathers and lace and beads and hair in perfect curls.
And I made a little place-card for each table setting that looked like this:
It would be a surprise for B; we just told her to dress fabulously, which really, we did not have to say, as even without any guidance she showed up in a silk and lace slip dress, patent leather shoes that were TDF and a black and green feathered capelet.
I had been looking forward to B’s birthday for months, as it was not only a chance to see my dear friend, but also a chance to celebrate her.
In order to kill two birds with one stone (for the record, I tried to look up a better expression to convey the same idea, but I could not find one, but really, that’s a terrible expression), I brought my daughter on the train with me that day so that she could enjoy her long-awaited birthday gift: A day in New York City with my sister. More to come on that, but that is a whole separate post for another day.
So my daughter and I raced excitedly through the train station in Philadelphia, gaping at the insanely long line for our track, and as I grabbed her hand and shuffled, I saw a familiar figure several feet ahead of me:
Extremely tall, wearing a magnificently unique long dress made of linen, chunky artisan jewelry, platinum waves dancing behind her, coffee in hand.
“Dr. M?” I called cautiously.
And as she turned around, my breath escaped from my chest.
I had not seen her in over 8 years, but Dr. M stood before me, beautiful as ever and we did one of those slow motion runs into an embrace as she joined her husband in the line for the train.
I cannot tell you exactly what I said to her, because I said so much in those few minutes together, but I got to introduce her to my daughter, tell her that she changed my life forever and, that I was going to be boarding the same train as she in order to go to a thirtieth birthday party
for our B
a tea with a theme based on the 1920’s
and A Moveable Feast,
all about which she had taught us.
And that, my friends, is serendipity.
I am even posting the terrible photo of myself above, as I was clearly mid-sentence, because this is a picture of my daughter meeting and talking with Dr. M so nothing else matters.
As soon as my daughter and I boarded the train, I sent B a text.
This was our exact dialogue:
Me: You will not believe this. I am shaking. Guess who is on our train???
(and then I sent a photo of us smiling together, but because I was still underground, stopped at 30th street station, it would not go through to B.)
B: Who?!?!??! Do not say Dr. M.
And then the photo went through.
B: OH MY GOD. I knew it. I am shaking. Oh my god. I can’t even speak. This is why. YOU and ME. This just says so much.
Me: This is it.
The conversation continued on, a lovely lovely lovey love-fest, and then B finished by saying, “This is just magical. Out of a dream.”
And it was.
There were more serendipitous events surrounding B’s tea, but some things I will keep close to the heart.
All I know is that for a few hours on Saturday, I got to sit next to the girl
the girl for whom I had been searching
as we dined on tea sandwiches, macarons and pink cotton candy.
And, as always, the time was spent as us;
unspoken understanding, hand-holding and a lot of Hemingway.
Cheers to The the Lost Generation, finding old friends
and a whole lot of feasts, fun, fancy and feathers in between.