Wednesday morning at 11 am, the view was unexpected and beautiful. A garden hidden between boarded up houses and run down lots. A block or two of renovated and rejuvenated old buildings, homes, and gardens. A reconstructed oasis in the outskirts of a forgotten downtown, reclaiming some history and dignity. Red brick streets warming in the early sun, flanked by shops and restaurants. Young women pushing strollers. Girlfriends going for a morning run. Shop keepers washing their windows and turning signs from “closed” to “open”.
And I sat.
We were meeting for lunch at The Green Well Gastro Pub in Grand Rapids, MI. For years I had known he spent the summers teaching at Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp, but ironically never realized it was the very camp The Tortoise went just a couple of summers ago. Less than three hours away, for the past twelve years, I had missed many opportunities to reconnect. In a moment of blind faith, I reached out and asked, “Can I see you for lunch?”
The two-hour drive to find this hidden spot gave me plenty of time to wade through years of memories and emotions. It had been nearly 15 years since we last saw each other. It had been nearly 15 years that we spent time together. He the teacher. I the student. From the time I was eleven until I was about twenty-five, this man was not only my music mentor, he was another parent and confidant. The bulk of my late childhood and early adulthood include him. The bulk of my musical passion and creativity stem from my relationship with this sweet man. Even in his absence, his insight and vision were always present. I missed him terribly, wondered if we would still be teacher and student or if time could transform us into friends.
Walking through the door, his smile caught my breath. He was exactly as I remembered and I fell into his arms, hugging him like the child I was when we last parted. Seven hours later, as the afternoon progressed into early evening, I knew we were more like friends.