Reconciliation, Healing, and Charcuterie – Part One

“This feels the same, doesn’t it?”

Dave said this somewhere in the vicinity of 70th street, as we ambled up Fifth Avenue, a brisk walk that had its beginnings at 32nd Street and Park Avenue. In actuality, our journey began over 16 years ago, but, due to a combination of factors, had suffered an unfortunate suspension that had lasted for far longer than it should have. His comment made me smile, and, in spite of my aching legs and lingering back pain, I could not have agreed more. All in all, it did feel quite the same.

He was the best man at our wedding. But for years before that, when we were in college, he was a great and most excellent friend. We would foray into Manhattan on a regular basis, paying the $1 PATH fare to hop a train from Newark, eating too much, spending too much, staying too late and catching one of the last trains back to campus. Food was always a primary focus on these trips – we would end up at the original Balducci’s on 9th Street, or at Benny’s Burritos. More often than not, we would close out our evenings at an espresso bar in Greenwich Village whose name I’ve long forgotten.

To say that I did not see eye-to-eye with Dave’s girlfriend at the time would be a vast understatement. Our personalities, from Day One, just never found any common ground, and when their relationship turned into an engagement, and then into marriage, I had made the decision not to remain as a constant source of irritation and disagreement. Graduation had brought its own elements of separation – Dave went into the working world and I took refuge from a bad economy by enrolling in law school. Time marched on, we lived our separate lives, grew older, and started families – and thus began a 13-year silence and one of the few legitimate regrets that I’ve had in my adult lifetime. With no contact information to be had from Google, and no social networking presence, Dave was impossible to find.

Then, in August, from out of nowhere, he sent me a message on Facebook.

So much had happened in the span of 13 years. His marriage had ended in divorce, but he was now in the midst of a new relationship with a wonderful woman who was perfect for him – age appropriate, free from a first marriage, and with children of her own. And just a few days after our initial contact, he emailed me to tell me that they were taking a trip to Niagara Falls, where he was going to propose to her. And he did, and she said yes. With so many tales to tell, of his first marriage, his divorce, and his new engagement, along with all of those little details that fill in the gaps in between, there was just no way that it would all fit easily into email messages. So we plotted to return to New York to engage in that old traditional form of communication, walking and talking. And, of course, eating.

I caught an early Amtrak out of Wilmington, heading north, while Dave hopped on a Metro North train southbound from Connecticut. I arrived into NYC 45 minutes earlier than he did, and I took the opportunity to grab a coffee and trek uptown on foot, from Penn Station to Grand Central. Even though we were texting back and forth, I still had not actually spoken to him in 13 years.

I made my way through the crowds at Grand Central, through the cavernous main concourse, and waited at the staircase, hoping to catch sight of him as he emerged from the platform.

Part Two of Reconciliation, Healing, and Charcuterie is coming…