I was on the roof deck of this towering apartment screaming my lungs off. The wide empty sky absorbing my anger.
“Does it help? The screaming I mean. Does it help you?”
“Who are you?” I asked the old man who had just interrupted my cursing at the sky.
“I asked you a question first. Does the screaming help?”
“Have you been here long? I’m sorry about that. It’s been a tough period.”
“I know. I’ve been listening.”
“I’m embarrassed now. Sorry. I can get carried away. How much have you heard?”
“Everything. Everything you said and didn’t say. I told you, I’ve been listening.”
“Who are you? What are you doing here?” I asked with more curiosity. I should have been weirded out but I wasn’t. There was something reassuring about this old man.
He stepped into the roof’s light, “My name is Abe. And I’ve been waiting for you.”
Abe. I recognized him. A friend from a lifetime ago. My best friend once.
“Abe! I was going to call. But I forgot how to reach you. I…”
“You were afraid to reach me.” He inserted.
Ashamed I had to admit, “Yes, I didn’t know how you would react. If you still wanted to be my friend. You know… After everything.”
Abe smiled, “After everything…”
“I haven’t been very good. Not since I left that straight road to who knows where. I haven’t been good at all.”
Abe looked at me, “David, do you remember why I invited you on a quest?”
“Yes, to go to who knows where.”
“No, that’s not why.”
“No. To put it simply, it’s to walk with you, or to run, or to climb, and even fly – with you. To be with you. That’s why. Did you really think the invitation was just to go to a place? I’ve been everywhere. There is no more joy in just being somewhere yet there is infinite joy in being with someone.”
His words came back to me. Words I had ignored for too long:
“Do you know what I believe? Let me tell you what I believe. I believe in love. I believe that of all the laws and forces that be, there is true love that embraces all. And I believe in you. I told you I was going to give you a reason, and that reason was my reason, my reason is you.”
My eyes started to glisten, “I’m so sorry Abe. I really haven’t been very good. And it’s not like I haven’t tried. I’ve tried incredibly. I’m quite successful you know. I’ve built a few things. But look at me now, I’m on top of this building screaming nothing to no one. I was supposed to take this quest with you, and I walked away. I left. I left you. I left the the journey to who knows where. There’s no going there now.”
Ignoring my excuse, Abe asked, “And where is ‘there’? Where is this place ‘who knows where’?
“I don’t know. I’ve never been there.”
Abe walked closer, his tall frame overshadowing mine, “I’ve been there. I’ve been everywhere. You have too.”
“I haven’t been everywhere.”
“You’ve been to who knows where.”
“You’re so forgetful David. For a smart guy you sure forget so easily. Yes. Yes, you’ve been there.”
“Many times. You’re so close now. You’re so close to your destiny.”
Then it came back to me. The one lesson I had to learn, and the very lesson I had forgotten:
“Destiny, where I’m supposed to be, isn’t a place on a map or a moment in time, it is everywhere, anytime with the one you love.”
Abe’s idea of who knows where was, no is, anywhere and everywhere with me.
Tears started to fall now. I looked up at Abe unable to bridge the gap of his kindness, his wisdom, and his goodness and my inner turmoil. We were facing each other but it felt like an eternity between us.
“I don’t know what to say.” I told him, “I don’t know what to do.”
“How about you invite me for dinner? We can figure things out later.”
“Dinner? You eat now? I’ve never seen you eat – ever.”
“Oh I can eat. If I want to.”
I laughed a bit. Abe always had a weird solution to knotted moments. “Ok, let’s have dinner. There’s a Japanese restaurant downstairs. Do you like sashimi?”
He laughed, “Fish is my favorite. Wonderful choice.”
Abe always confounded me. His greatness yet his accessibility, his goodness yet his humility, his wisdom yet his interest in me. In the time of our travel in my younger years, not once did I see him eat anything, and now, apparently, he likes fish. Another thing to add to the ungraspable character of this giant.
“Come my friend. Let’s have our fish.”
As we turned to the hall of elevators, my heart and mind were filled with one thought, “He called me friend.”