We met when we were young but thought we were old, me 28, him 31, both of us going through the throes of what we thought were world-weary adulthood-ness like divorce and break-ups and love and children and responsibility and dreams and writing. Always writing.
We managed to stay friends even though the sentence he heard most from me was "you're wrong". Being a black belt in karate, he was grounded and sane and very much at peace so he'd just smile, laugh and go "Ok". That's what black belt karate guys do - they shrug you off because they don't need to prove how many different ways they can kick your ass in.
But it wasn't just his gentle acceptance of my furious little Lower East Side verbal fists that just had to be punching something. It was his gentle welcome into his life and thus life itself, asking me to stand witness to new marriages and new homes and then one day new life itself.
I got to watch that rare moment that happens a billion times a day but when you're watching it is the only time it ever happened ever. I got to witness the birth of his daughter. I got to see that moment when that little being appeared and I suddenly knew her, knew her fully as a person, there was a perfect, full person inside that itty bitty baby body.
I carry that moment around as a talisman, like the words of a song by Iron and Wine that paints in words the moment our heart opens - "like babies want God's love". Even as a Buddhist these words are the only ones that could possible describe the second we met.
And here years later over tea and a noticeable decrease of me telling him he's wrong, I watch him talk to that perfect girl, now 15 and dressing in clothes from the worst era of all fashion, the 1980s and I hear song words in my head of a gift, just like babies that want God's love.
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