SAME TIME NEXT YEAR
15 July 2003
I looked around the table tonight and realized we were living a version of the
"Same Time, Next Year" story--you know the show where two strangers meet on a
weekend in a vacation hide-away, both are married but they end up having a fling that
night and then they make plans to meet the following year. They have no contact in
between, but a year later they show up at the same place again, have another wonderful
weekend, and then go back to their spouses. They keep this up every year for years.
Through the course of the play you see the changes that take place in them as they grow,
move through various stages of their lives, etc.
It was when someone at the table mentioned Pilates and someone else started talking
about the aches and pains of growing old that I realized we had taken "Same Time Next
Year" to a different place.
I talked a couple of days ago about cobwebs here in my office and how the cobwebs
symbolized portions of my life that I'd moved forward from. I do occasionally look back,
and I look back every year on July 14, the anniversary of Gilbert's death.
Each year a group of people who were Gilbert's friends in life gather to remember him,
and to socialize a bit...as the years have passed, it's less remembering and more
socializing, but we always drink a toast to him. We've been doing this for 17 years now.
He died July 14, 1986. We've been "remembering" him longer than I suspect each
of us knew him.
Will Connolly and Marie Goff at Old Krakow Polish Restaurant
But as I looked around the table tonight, I thought of the changes in our group since
we first decided to have a dinner on the first anniversary of his death. We're all 17
years older, for starters. We've gone through marriage, divorce, health problems (cancer,
cardiac probems, injury), eviction, job woes, the political ups and downs of the city and
of the Lamplighters, retirement, grief, weight see-saws, and a host of other things.
Through it all the one thing that has remained constant--we all cared about Gilbert and we
all remember him fondly.
After dinner, over coffee and/or dessert (no dessert for me--I was being good), people
shared "Gilbert stories." From the look of a couple of people in my direction, I
know they expected me to contribute my own Gilbert stories, but I have a difficult time
doing that. Most people knew him as the comic, the raconteur, the funny guy. I knew him
that way too, but I also passed over into that other level, where we were confidantes to
each other and so I saw a side of him that most other people did not. My fondest memories
are quiet moments, secrets shared, things that would not make good topics to reminisce
about over the dinner table. I saw his darker side more than his lighter side, but that
was what made our relationship special to me--that he trusted me enough to share his
darker side with me.
At the conclusion of the dinner, we all hugged goodbye and went our separate ways. Most
of the group will see each other again, as they are mostly all connected with the
Lamplighters and/or live in the same city. For me, however, the next time I'll see most of
them again will be July 14, 2004 and it will be interesting to see how we have all changed
in the course of the year.
The trip down to the Bay Area was the usual frustrating one. It takes an hour to drive
the 70 miles to Berkeley and another hour to make it the 20 miles from Berkeley to San
Francisco, given the traffic situation.
My accident has, unfortunately, apparently caused an exacerbation of part of my
freeway-phobia, which I thought was cured years ago. Maybe it's that I'm feeling
physically vulnerable, especially all bound up like this, and it is now only 58 days until
I leave for Australia, so I'm acutely aware of trying to protect myself from further
bodily harm for the next few weeks.
I seem to have to either read or sleep while Walt is driving, otherwise I can get in
that panicky place I thought I left long ago, especially when we are either following or
passing one of those big trucks. Unfortunately, when it's too dark to read and you've just
had two cups of coffee, reading and sleeping are neither possible, so it was a
white-knuckle drive home.
I sure hope that once I'm able to drive again (or once I get to Australia) I'll have
rid myself of this silly panic again.