BACK TO THE FUTURE

When we first met, she was Sweet Sixteen. Dating her sister, I’d drive east in hot pursuit. Years came and went. Marriages came and went. Surviving was a blend of friendship borne of family that even divorce couldn’t put asunder.

Thursday night and Hal was “on the clock.” With no Helen Friday, the only things separating me from Jackie’s rehearsal dinner were two days and the open highway. As such, inspired by the freedom of time, I opted, Friday/noon, to head east.

There’s a dynamic to revisiting—years later—the road once travelled. Thoughts passed and songs blared as I relived life’s mosaic along the signs, bumps and bruises of PA’s turnpike. Lump in throat, I enjoyed—on oh so many levels—the long and winding road.

The sign read New Stanton and I pushed back decades, driving up from Columbus with my Dad. Ben and Lil dropped Jackie’s sister there—years ago. Future machatenim met, luggage was transferred and, (as per all Albert meetings), bread was broken. Then, somewhat prophetically, the parents returned to their neutral corners.

I called Michael. They were pulling in down south and Max was waking. We’d talk later.

‘ Kept driving. There are these spots—empty pockets of concrete—that you pass every twenty miles. Emergency areas, I suppose. My mind went back again…to the time (for reasons long forgotten), Alan and I, were heading west on this road, and pulled into one of these tracts. Seconds later, it seemed back then, another car swooshed next to us, driver’s side. Scared me, woke Wieder, but all they wanted was directions.

An ABBA song came on reminding me of Stacy. It played for an hour….Jackie texted “can’t wait (sic) 2 c u”; ”Picking up Aunt Minnie in Newark” I shot back for kicks as I drove on. Called H (no answer), and my sponsor (no answer), and Jamie. There were dueling banjos playing: battling paradigms of past memories, present feelings…future blessings.

It all, of course, would meld on Saturday.

The valet at Roy’s Restaurant took my car and moments later I was ushered to a private room.

“You must be ‘Brother Bruce’” greeted my soon-to-be…(WAIT, I guess we’re not really related!) There was warmth in his hello and safety in his gait. While we’d emailed in the past, it was nice to put a grace to his name. My ex-sister-in-law (boy that sounds sterile), had found a “keeper.” Good for her!

“And you must be Uncle Ernie!” I said, turning to my left. The once and future patriarch, glued to the One Hole, remains a man for all seasons. Indeed, had I not last seen him at Max’s bris?

It was a night of catching up on the past, but, better yet, bonding with the future. Unencumbered by a wife, parent or child, I was the ultimate free agent working the room unrestrained. Every moment spent with the old was trumped by moments with the young…or new! Joel’s kids, Jackie’s, the Davis clan…

“I’m trying to figure out who you are?” admitted Alan’s brother’s wife.
“I used to be married to her,” came my response, pointing to The Jersey Girl.
“You guys get along these days,” chimed Jackie. “Did you ever think of getting back together?”

(I smelled an audience). “I thought about it a few years back, but there wasn’t enough sexual tension.”

Beet red, the ex rolled her eyes in a manner stating (somewhat accepting), “Yes, Bruce can still clown.” I shrugged it off, (somewhat accepting) and didn’t break stride. “We’ll always have Paris,” I noted.

There were no jerks tonight.  Not a one.

Standing under the chupah…again…it was dueling banjos.

I saw warmth in the groom and Sixteen in the bride. I heard again, the toast of Alan’s mother: “To family.” I thought of The Prince that I’ve held and the ones that I will.   And I reveled not only in my yesterdays, but my todays– and yes, my tomorrows.

Glass shattered, toasts made, we dined and shared Goodbyes.  Or should I say Farewells?  Fueled by love, buoyed by family and friends, Jackie and Alan had their eyes to the future.

So did I.

138 Responses to “BACK TO THE FUTURE”

  1. Jackie says:

    Thanks, Bruce for the great blog – I’m so flattered to have one written about me! And, also grateful that it’s not an obituary :).

    Alan and I loved having you at our wedding and we were honored to have you under the chuppah with us as a witness. We love you and will see you in CT.

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