NOTE: As I approach my 70th birthday, I’ll reprise a milestone post here each day until the end of May. Today – from April 17, 2007.
Saturday night we went to my friend Rona’s 60th birthday party in LA. The photo is me, Rona and our Today Show colleague Coby. It was really fun – how often does Famous Amos bake you cookies and Brian Wilson sing to you on a Bel Air tennis court turned party heaven? How often do you see photos of yourself, your friend and your husband at Today Show shoots and crazy parties? And how often, in the unexpected chill of an April Los Angeles evening, do you see a pile of blankets for guests that includes the one you made their now 14-year-old son when he was born?
I’ve written about Rona before but Saturday night was a real reminder of the nature of a gifted friend. She asked everyone to stand up. Those who knew her 5 years or less, sit down. Then ten years. Then fifteen. We were feeling pretty cocky since we were in the 20 years or less category – until we saw how many people – from New York, DC, Hawaii, San Francisco, LA and God knows where else – were standing at 30 – and even 40 years! And Rick and I knew many of them; we’d been to birthday parties or holiday events or just dinner with them over the years. I once heard someone quote Wendy Wasserstein as saying that you could judge someone’s character by how well they kept their friends. In that as in so many other ways she was a star.
On the tables were CDs for all of us – with a photo of her at Woodstock on the cover (one that I’d used in our 20 year anniversary piece (it was really great) to close it out. Sunday I was driving around LA while my husband was at his conference so I stuck the CD into the player. The next thing I knew I was driving down the 10 Freeway in tears — not sweet little showers but huge wracking sobs. Not really sadness, it was more a recognition of all the treasured time that has passed – of how much I loved so much of it and how real it still feels to me. I’ve never read Remembrance of Things Past but I’m told that the entire epic emerges from memories evoked from the smell of a Madeline (a kind of French cookie – they sell them at Starbucks I think.)
Well each song – Van Morrison or Bob Dylan or Paul Simon or Marvin Gaye took me someplace. The thing is – sad as I was, I was also absurdly grateful to have the memories and moments so powerfully evoked by the music. Not until I hit 60 did I realize you really DO get older – that some things are in the past for good. When the music is there, though, nothing’s really gone. Memories and senses arise in all their glory and float me back where I came from. Not for long – and not entirely – but enough to remind me of the privileges of my life and the wonders of life itself. Corny but oh so true – music brings the gift of memory and joy. Yet another thing to thank birthday girl Rona for adding to my life. Happy birthday one more time, my sister.