“I can’t begin to express how happy I am to be doing this,” I told him.
“Did you go to your prom?” he asked me. “No,” I said, “but I’m really glad you’re going to yours.”
The tailor had great and loving energy, her woman’s touch pinning to get his suit just right. The young woman at the florist channeled romantic enthusiasm to work with Nate on the exact color palate of the corsage, while the sales woman at the store, not that far removed from her own prom, helped match a tie perfectly to the dress she gazed at on his phone screen.
For months I have been intermittently melancholy about launching and separation, at times swept by tears and nostalgia. But as Nate and I zipped around our neighborhood, no shop or stop farther than a mile from home, I could not have been happier.
The plan was for parents to gather and take pictures before the kids embarked by busses, limos and cars for a hotel ballroom and the after-party beyond. The energy of that photo-op surrounded me like cross-hatching waves of innocence lapping at the shore of experience.
I just want to be myself now, as I am, where I am, when I am. I looked into the eyes of young emerging adults, and of parents letting go, and I saw love and spirit everywhere I looked.
Twenty years ago I was drinking Margaritas at El Coyote with my dear friend. We met there every Tuesday for years, through crappy jobs and big breaks (at least for my friend) and the ebb and flow of early adulthood.
There were fires burning on the TV of the bar as we left, suddenly aware that things had gotten heated in our city of angels. Whatever it was all to mean, I stepped into the lobby of my apartment in Hollywood through a door no longer there—it was now a carpet of twinkling safety glass, blown out by gunfire.
From my apartment Andy and I watched the fires burn on TV and out our windows: the same fires from different angles in our city of angels.
I took a lot of pictures before Nate’s prom. Everything looked beautiful to me—not sad and fleeting, not an ending of a special time, or even necessarily a beginning of a new time: rather, it just was its own time and I felt so happy and present and sad and hopeful and eternal and aging and renewed and awakening and fine with everything and everyone, filled with gratitude and beginner mind.
As the kids embarked into their night I mentioned Our Town to a doctor dad, and he didn’t know the play, but when I explained the theme and Emily’s poignant realization of life’s beauty, but only after life’s end, my friend readily shared with me how he had left an important medical conference to be present to this moment—just now fully grasping in the fading light how much he had missed already, and how much he needed to be here now.
As I turned the pages of The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying I felt a red robe of friendship whispering that although all is impermanence, love and relating to each other is the point, the key, the treasure and the door; it is the carpet and the jewels, the blossom and the kiss; it is the comfort and the freedom, the bond and the embrace; Love is the hello and the good-bye, the quarrel and the repair. It is the coming and the going, the reaping and the sowing; it is the mirror on pins and needles, it is the just sewing; it is the scent of jasmine in the night, the feel of air soft on our soft skin, the stubble on a chin, the fizz evervescsently floating over vanished gin, paths that led me through the out-door in, and finally through the in-door out.
In the morning there were boys everywhere, rumpled suits and sweetly tired eyes.
And in the night of Sunday, gazing at pictures of the pre-prom with Nate, he remarked that it will be fun, when he is my age, to look back at these pictures. And he thanked me again for being excited about all of this—and best of all, he gave me his blessing to include these pictures; beyond the awkward skirmishes of the past, it’s just so crystal clear that we all (across bounds of family, friendship, age, community and world-view) love each other so much—a rippling Love whose Truth sounds a note not old or far away, but eternal; the ephemeral dance of what remains, not of our days or nights, but of our Love.