When I was in college, a group of close friends and I spent a weekend at a cabin in the mountains. Before you ask -- yes, alcohol was involved, but not an inordinate amount. There was an old jeep in the shed, and we all piled in and took a slow drive down a long country road canopied with trees. I can still remember leaning back with the sun dappling my face through the leaves, a soft warm wind blowing, looking up at the blue sky, listening to stories being told and the answering laughter of friends.
That was one of what I like to call the “Golden Times.” Those moments -- or if we’re lucky, longer – that somehow attain a sort of perfection. I knew it was special, but I had no idea that over thirty years later, I would still remember exactly how it felt.
Sometimes they’re happy accidents. For our wedding day, barefoot on the beach, Robert and I hoped to be in some privacy with our small group of family and friends at the water’s edge at sunset. But at the last minute our pastor said it would be too difficult for some elderly relatives to make it down the long stretch of sand.
Robert turned to me and smiled, and said he would marry me anywhere. So we stood on Venice Beach (not in Italy, sadly, but it’s lovely in Los Angeles, too) in full view of all the balconies of a busy hotel, and within earshot of the many people enjoying the last of the spring sunshine by biking, rollerblading, jogging or strolling on the walkway.
What we hadn’t counted on was the respectful silence of the crowd drawn to the ceremony – and after being in our own world until we kissed and turned around, we’d had no idea that the hotel balconies had gradually filled, and the walkway was nearly choked with people who had stopped to watch. They now raised glasses, waved, smiled broadly, and gave us a smattering of applause.
When we went to get in our car after the reception, two women stopped us enthusiastically. “You’re the bride and groom! We watched you get married!!”
Strangers being touched by strangers. A Golden Time.
At a Rick Springfield concert a few years ago, the man himself walked down the middle of the seats in the audience and ended up standing on my chair to finish the song, giving Robert the opportunity to play air guitar only inches away from him, and as for me… well, what would you do if you were that close and had listened to “Jessie’s Girl” about a million times?
Other times sparkle in my memory. Holding Thomas as a baby. Watching the first snow fall on Thanksgiving Day. Reaching out to take Robert’s hand in a peaceful silence on a long drive from Idaho to Los Angeles. Kicking chunks of ice at twilight on a frozen lake with friends, watching the irridescence skitter along as the moon rose. Listening to Andrea Bocelli sing arias from “La Boheme” with my mother, tears glistening in her eyes and mine.
By definition, a Golden Time has an end. It can’t be sustained. Otherwise it becomes day-to-day life, which can be very, very good, but simply isn’t that diamond that stands out among the lesser stones.
How do we know when it’s over? I’m afraid the answer is that most of the time, we don’t. When is the last hug, the last kiss, the last time of making love, the last goodbye when we hang up the phone, never to hear that person’s voice again?
After 9/11, there were so many stories about husbands and wives pecking each other on the cheek in the morning, casually saying, “See you tonight,” or “Pick up some milk on your way home,” or similar banalities. If they’d only known.
I never say goodbye to Robert without telling him I love him. I try to leave places and people without “if onlys”…”if only I’d hugged him”, ”if only I’d told her how pretty she looked”, ”if only I’d said what he means to me…”
And now, why is this all on my mind today?
Two and a half years ago, I started on Twitter in a unique way, centered around creativity and play with a group of people that came together organically and naturally, acting out characters from a television show. We made ourselves and lots of other people laugh, and created relationships across oceans and time zones that could never have happened otherwise. There were misunderstandings and dramas, fallings out and comings together, and some friendships forged that I hope will never end.
My world opened up in wonderful ways, and remains open. I still love Twitter, but I’m myself now, a writer reading other writers, enjoying the postings of artists, a few celebrities, and plenty of quirky individualists.
So today, I say goodbye, mindfully, and acknowledge that it was, indeed, a Golden Time, but it’s over. It was one of the diamonds that stands out among the stones.
Frank Warren, the creator of PostSecret.com got the idea to have people send him something they'd never told anyone on a postcard. Half a million secrets later, he looks at some of the lessons that can be learned from the things people wanted to share.
This entertaining and fascinating talk is funny, emotional, and a couple of times, left me wide-mouthed with wonder.
Hope you enjoy...