For much of that last decade of my life, due to various circumstances and none of them kind, I had felt increasingly invisible. At this moment, the eyes of my lifelong friend upon me in close but tender scrutiny, I felt—visible.
We do not need to be changed, only accepted and supported, so that we may pursue our own desired changes to achieve our fullest potential. We do not want to be compared, for there will always, always be those who come in better, at this or that, in this or that way. All of us, every one of us—we only want to be seen. As we are. In this moment and always. The light and the shadow in us, the weak and the strong, what we once were, are now, and can be tomorrow. To be seen. As we were young and as we age. Perfect in our imperfection.
I stood on the sidewalk of many centuries, where my ancestors had stood, where my father had stood, where my grandfather and grandmother had stood, and I felt present. I am here. Now, here, in this moment in time and for all time, standing for all of us, here.
“Does Ventspils look different to you?” he asks.
“You know, everyone told me, again and again, how much things have changed … and in some ways, yes, of course, a brighter face on the city, more life behind store windows, but … no, she hasn’t changed. Not really, not at all. She is just as I remember her.”
We walk down to the river Venta, where we have walked together many times over many years. The river joins the Baltic Sea here, and the port never freezes in winter, and here is this tiny country’s value. For this, Latvia has been invaded and overpowered so many times over so many centuries. For a port to the ocean that is always open, regardless of season, open to trade across the world at all times.
|Z at the red brick house some 17 years ago...|
Andris reached for my camera and motioned for me to go up to the red brick house, as I was then, as I am now, so that he might take a photo of this overlapping in time. She crouched by the red brick, leaning back against that wall. She, then, and I, now. And the man with the dark hair pulled back in a ponytail snapped a photo, laughing, his eyes bright, and the man with gray hair snapped a photo, his smile warm and his eyes bright, and then snapped another.
“We have a car for tomorrow,” Andris announced, his face lighting up. “I can take you wherever you want to go.”
No one else anywhere. We were two souls wandering the shoreline at night, and the world seemed empty and clean around us.
I suddenly remembered something we had once promised each other to do … with our seven hours time difference, I would stop whatever I was doing at noon in the States, so that he could stop whatever he was doing at 7 p.m. in Latvia, and send good thoughts across the ocean. I imagined those golden little puddles, bobbing over the great waves of the sea, and felt how they had all gathered now, in one place.
|Full moon over the Baltic Sea|
The day, this trip, the years, this life.
“8 a.m.,” I said, and thought perhaps he was disappointed at the late hour for a start, but I needed some rest, and the hours were ticking away already.
“All right. 8 a.m., sharp. I’ll be at your door, waiting.”
And here we were again, at my borrowed door for the night, on Katolu Iela, the keys rattling too loud in my hand, the night too dark to see the lock, and the key turned and didn’t unlock, this way and that, as I fumbled and made, I’m sure, far too much noise. Finally, unlocked, and I slipped inside on tip toe, then skipped back out again, and threw my arms around my friend and drew him close, pressing my cheek to his.
“Nu re, cik mili,” he said.
See, how sweet… and it was, sweet, tender, warm, the one thing sure and true in my world. I tiptoed back inside again, and heard him burst into laughter and glanced back. Standing there, gray-haired man, laughing at me, acting like an old school girl, trying not to get grounded for staying out too late on a Saturday night.
I tried to keep my own laughter to a quiet roar, and failed.
(To be continued...)
|Then and Now|