My Third Novel's Conclusion, My Heartbreak

My heart begins to break when I think about completing this particular book -- because this narrative has sustained me like no other story I've known. It's both more personal and more universal than my other works. But beyond memory and archetype, it's a cri-de-coeur about needing to become the person one is destined to be. And in the writing, I have met my own life's work, my own fated journey -- having the sense all the while that the pages are suffused with a resonance, an energy, an electrified field that defies explanation. Writers hope and pray to be overtaken by a work in this way -- to be conscripted into passionate service of a profound story. To experience it even once in a lifetime seems a great privilege. I still have perhaps six months before this novel is complete, and this constitutes my reprieve. Because I'm not ready for the beauty to end.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Dancing With the Universe

One of my favorite actors, Jeff Bridges, likes to refer to some of the most powerful experiences in his life as "dancing with the universe."  The coincidence that is too miraculous to be happenstance, the epiphany that retains its power over time, the transcendent feeling that accompanies the impossible reunion -- all of these are part of the dance to which he refers.  And I know just what he means.

On Friday afternoon, while getting ready for the Viennese Ball, I was overwhelmed by the presentiment that I would reunite that evening with someone important to me -- someone I hadn't seen in a long time.  I had no idea who it might be -- but I felt a profound sense of anticipation about the Ball as a result.  I chose my dress, my shoes, my jewelry with the excitement of going to meet a loved one.  It was an improbable conviction, given that one thousand people planned to attend the event  -- and the odds of running into acquaintances would be staggeringly low.

Still, at 9:00 pm, my beloved and long-lost brother materialized out of thin air.  He lives three thousand miles away -- travels the world on a hectic schedule -- and had fallen out of touch with our entire extended family.

So, the fairy tale of long gowns and tuxedos and the live orchestra was complete when I found myself dancing the Viennese waltz in the arms of my only sibling, whom I haven't seen in over a year.  We had a falling out surrounding my father's death two years ago -- and I wondered whether he was lost to me.  Would it be decades before I saw him again?  Would I ever see him again in this lifetime?  I had been speaking to friends in recent weeks about how terribly I've missed him -- about how much I've wanted to tell him I love him -- ridiculously, devotedly, unconditionally love him -- my big brother -- friend of my youth.

And then, we were together -- impossibly, redemptively spinning around the dance floor in one another's arms.  I don't know how often a magic reconciliation manifests itself in real life -- but, on Friday night, I was part of one.  I'm still airborne with euphoria over this reunion.

All of it makes me wonder -- what if we could summon our family and friends with the strength of our feelings for them?  What if our love for others were so powerful that it wouldn't allow long absence?  These are questions the answer to which is sometimes pure, inexplicable, unmitigated joy.

I love you, dear brother of mine.  I'm so grateful for your return to my life.  Take my hand, and let's dance.

10 comments:

  1. This is an amazing reconciliation. You had never attended this event with your brother before?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Never. We had never even discussed the Viennese Ball.

      Delete
  2. I love your gown! You look stunning.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I will definitely plan to attend next year. I'll need to practice my dancing for months and months though, probably starting now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Just fyi, Stanford hosts an "Austria fortnight" in advance of the Ball -- which consists of two weeks of nightly waltzing practice for those who are in the Palo Alto area. But there are many other ways to gain practice!

      Delete
  4. It's really remarkable that you had the feeling you were going to reunite with someone that night. Have you ever had this kind of extra sensory knowledge before?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In deference to all the scientists in my life, I must make no comment! Thanks for your understanding, Anon. :)

      Delete
  5. Was your brother surprised as well? Or did he somehow know in advance that you would be attending the dance?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He seemed quite surprised, yes! He had no idea I was planning to attend.

      Delete