Curled up in a fetal position across two seats on the Amtrak train from Washington, DC to New York the other day, I was nearly fast asleep for the ride when I felt a tap on my shoulder. The tap became a gentle shake, which, in all fairness to the shaker, is not something that I received particularly well. In a second, I shot up and looked to the person shaking me for an explanation. Standing in the isle was Boo one of my childhood best friends.
Our quick, excited flurry of exchange went something like this:
"You dork!! I thought you were in the Middle East! What the f--k are you doing on this train?"
"You told me that you were in Europe! When did you get back??"
Twenty-nine years and 11 months ago, Boo and I were born 2 days apart. We discovered this little factoid at the age of 14, which gave us even more incentive to be joined at the hip in high school. We figured that we needed to make up for the lost time from being separated at birth and missing from each other's lives for 14 whole years. From that moment on, we never failed to celebrate our birthdays. For the two of us, every day was a small celebration of sorts. In high school, for example, we really thought of ourselves as kind of a big deal. Come to think of it, I can't necessarily say that anything has changed.
Boo was able to fly home at the last minute to be there for his mother's 50th birthday party. He was back to New York for a few days in order to wrap up some personal affairs and manage his life. Out of all of my fellow life walkers, he's been on the road as much as I have since we left high school. He's one of the ones who walked the talk of his big dreams to become a working actor. Perhaps the only difference between me and Boo is that he actually gets paid handsomely to do what he loves to do. He's truly a professional. As such, his only real hardship in life is that he is constantly availed of so many choices.
"Damn, woman," he gushed. "You look really incredible."
I learned a long time ago that high compliments from my gay best friend never fail to make me glow.
For the next 3 hours, we caught up in person as if a single day hadn't passed between us. I heard the exotic tales of his love triangle in Germany (which has been going on for years), and he heard the more pedestrian version of my latest adventures in the Wild West of the heterosexual dating, how dishevelling it is to have culture shock in my own country, and how traveling as much as I have recently has allowed me to distill even more out of what is important in life. As best friends do, we laughed and cried together on that train to New York. For my part, I needed it: Both the laughter and the tears.
I am once again reminded that time and space are irrelevant things to the heart. Boo has always had the uncanny ability to remind me that I'm not the only one who happens to see the world this way. Maybe this is because he and I were actually separated at birth after all. He's a nomad like me, and one who agrees that the only way to get through life is only by watching the cars when crossing the busy streets because "no one has ever been hit by a light". We may be the kind of people who play by our own rules, but nothing we do is ever self-destructive or lacking in positive intention.
"There's nothing random in life, Namaste," Boo told me when we finally got to Penn Station. We held each other's hands like old lovers until the last moment when I took the 1 train uptown, and he headed in the opposite direction. He encouraged me to follow my heart and continue to watch the signs in life as they appear to guide me.
"You've always been much better at this than I was, but still..." he said. "...don't let your talents scare you."
As always, we made promises to write more and to try to meet up soon, but we both know that we'll see each other again...when the time is right.