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You Never Know...
Today, I celebrated a quarter century of IBM service by my friend David Chase. David's partner Gerard, his mother Judy and a number of other colleagues and I ate a festive lunch with him at Chantarelle. IBM has been David's employer since before his graduation from RPI; he worked as a co-op (intern) while still a student, and the intern service counted toward the 25 years.
Clearly, everyone at the table loved David. That was a nice feeling -- to be with other people who appreciated David.
As lovely as it was to celebrate the friend I've had for the longest time at IBM, I sat at the gorgeous round table with the thick linen napkins and table-cloth, feeling self-absorbed in parallel (what's new?): Will I also get to celebrate 25 years of service at IBM? What will I be doing at work by then? What will I be doing for the seven years in between now and then? Will my mother still be alive to help me celebrate? What will the world be like in seven years?
Life is a Surprise
During Day 1 of Rosh Hashanah, I ran into a friend from 17 years ago, during my early years of living in Chicago.
"You look familiar to me. Did you grow up in Stamford?" I asked.
What's your name?"
He told me.
"The name's familiar, too."
"Well, it's a pretty common name."
He looked at me and asked, "Did you ever live in Chicago?"
"What's your name?"
"It's Sarah Siegel!"
"Sarah!" and then a huge hug.
We had met at Or Chadash, Chicago's gay (back then, that's what it was referred to as, rather than GLBT) synagogue in 1991.
That year, I became friends with three Jewish, gay men around my age, and the distinguished-looking-salt-and-pepper-haired guy in front of me was one of them. We all met at High Holiday services and hung out for a year or so, till this guy moved away for his job, and then another of them, my friend Robert, left town to go home to his parents, where he died of AIDS. The third guy, we lost touch with.
In 1991, when everything still seemed carefree for all of us -- though Robert likely was sick already and none of us knew it -- they were therapeutic for me; I was unable to be friends with most of the boys in my class at the Modern Orthodox Jewish day school I attended, growing up, and here, it was like I was with those same boys, who loved and cared about Judaism, but who could relate to me, and so who were much more fun.
The unexpected Rosh Hashanah reunion hit the spot. I introduced my '91 friend to Pat and said that I had met her right after the year we had spent, hanging out, and that we'd been together ever since. He was not currently in a relationship and I found myself feeling sickly competitive; he seemed to be further ahead in his career than I was in mine, but I had a partner. I felt ashamed of my competitiveness, but also glad that I had Pat more than needing to be at the top of my field yet.