November 01, 2006

Blue Hill, Maine

Paradise Found

The ties that bind run deep, woven like threads in the fabric of our lives. We went to school together, grew up together, came of age together and now, a lifetime later, we are connected in ways both simple and mysterious. And who am I to question the difference? At a multitude of reunions, a million people have experienced the same thing, but I am certain that something special happened amongst us all, (don’t you?), something impossible to explain.

What a weekend! A sensory overload; a joyful, overwhelming, uplifting roller coaster ride; a happy, laugh-filled weekend so full of emotion that when it ended, I could only sigh and wish it would go on forever.

It began for me on Friday morning when I drove, full of anticipation, from Blue Hill, Maine to Amherst, MA to pick up my old friend Jonny Klate. We arrived at The Crowne Plaza at 9:00, checked in, then wandered unsuspecting into the twilight zone. Suddenly, there in the lounge I was enveloped by a sea of faces, strange and familiar all at once. I felt like I was having an out of body experience, like skiing down a trail on a perfect day and letting go as the mountain takes you body and soul.

And there you were—the faces from my past: Sue Finkelstein, Wendy Blass, Michelle Cutler, Vinny Aquilino, Burt Siegel and my childhood friend David Kreisberg (just to name a few), all of us together again as though we had never been apart. 10:00 o’clock came and went, then 11:00, then 12:00. By 1:00am, too exhausted to go on (we’re not so young anymore are we?) it was time to turn in while my restless mind re-visited every moment.

On Saturday after breakfast, Jonny, Ray Blumenfeld, David Lewis and I drove down Route 22 to Mt. Vernon where we visited the homes of our youth: 220 Lawrence Street, 140 Ridgeway, 80 Esplanade and 531 E. Lincoln Avenue. We went to the high school and Fourth Avenue, (what happened to the RKO Proctor and Genungs Department store?), drove past A.B. Davis the Y and Wood Auditorium, visiting our memories at every turn.

Later that afternoon, Larry Elswit called and invited us to his room. When we walked in, we were greeted by Larry, Peter Kahn, Richie Aberman, Johnny Messinger and Johnny Littman. Lawyer, pshychatrist, social worker, doctor, accupunturist and businessman, all my childhood friends with a lifetime of stories to tell.

Then it was time for the main event. Saturday night—date night—a night that will live forever. Looking into those faces, 18 years young and 58 years old at the same time, I felt a certain disconnect, all those memories from long ago mixed up with the present moment and the new person I was meeting for the first time. We’re all grown up now, but I remember everyone as 7 year olds, 12 year olds, 18 year olds. There we were, all crowded together, laughing and hugging and looking into each others eyes and seeing and feeling so much joy. I was swept away and carried along by all that energy; it was one fabulous rainbow ride. One person then another and another: Jeanette Mallory, Sylvia Sirignano, Paul Belinkie, Betty Newberger, David Bridges, Carol Rader, Billy Lee, Sandra Conley, Glenn Davis, Mark Gurdus Skippy Earle, Susie Feinberg, Eileen Feiner, Joyce Hegyi, Artie Rasher, Lisa Margolis, Marty Kramer, Lyn Krisel, Tammy Lubliner, Freddy Mahler, Carol Pratt, Anthony Russo, Monica Simon, Lenny Soloff, Mort Starobin, Darrick Warner, just to name a few (where have you gone Joey Crescenzo?). With every wonderful encounter, there was another piece of my history, another memory brought to life, all a permanent part of my past standing right in front of me. You can go home again. Oh what a night! (Frankie Valle and The Four Seasons).

You are the people I grew up with and learned from. You are the people who helped shape my future. You are at once part of my past and part of my present, my old friends, my new friends. This was one of the great experiences of my life, a high so high that I never want it to end and I will remember it forever.

I am a part of all that I have met.”

—Tennyson

 

David Caplan

Tel: (207) 374-2730

caplan48@gwi.net