Barbara's Random Thoughts

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Believing the Impossible

"I can't believe that!" said Alice.

"Can't you?" the queen said in a pitying tone. "Try again, draw a long breath, and
shut your eyes."

Alice laughed. "There's no use trying," she said. "One can't believe impossible things."

"I dare say you haven't had much practice," said the queen. "When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes
I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."

A dear friend gave me a magnet with the above quote, around the time we were both searching for publishing jobs. She added a note with it assuring me that seemingly impossible things can come true. Last Tuesday's appointment at the Trevi Fountain was a reminder that this is still the case. Rather than rewrite the account, here's an excerpt of what I wrote that night in my journal:

There we were at the Trevi Fountain, just before noon...the appointed time. And it was packed with people. It was so completely crowded! Mel had been saying we should make signs of some sort, so anyone who was there would be able to find us. Because otherwise? No way.

I had been kind of skeptical about seeing the girls, excited to talk about it, excited in theory, but I don't know that I thought anyone else would come. But when we got there and I saw the crowd, I realized how much I wanted this to work. We stood there above the fountain, and I took a picture of the massive crowd because it was so daunting. [I later went back to this picture and zoomed in to where we found Lisa. She's IN this picture.]

I scanned the crowd, looking for familiar faces, for others who might be searching through the masses of people, for Wynne's red curls or Lisa's blond ones. Nothing. So we decided to plunge in and walk through the tons of people, looking as we went. Halfway to the far side of the fountain, where I'd stood to throw in my coin ten years before, I saw Lisa. I said to Mel: "Is that Lisa? Mel, I think that's Lisa!!" And it was. Mel started calling her name, Lenay spotted us, and we started yelling to each other and pushing our way up the step to where they were. There was hugging and screaming and I was totally shaky with nervous excitement. They had husbands! And kids! And Lisa's husband...was Tom! Lenay introduced us to her husband, Danny, and then Lisa said, "And you know my husband..." AAA! So crazy! She dated our painting professor on a semester abroad...and now they're married, and have a 2-year-old girl!

It was so good to find them there. No one else came (or we didn't find anyone else), but there we were, the four of us. Half of the girls from Via della Pergola, ten years later in Rome.

After the amazing reunion that we had, I feel a little selfish wishing for more. But I wonder about the others, the four who didn't come. Laura, Wynne, Jen, Zuleika. Mel and I had said all along that if anyone would come, it would be Lisa & Lenay. They're sisters, so they had each other to make this pilgrimage with, as Melinda and I had each other.

And the others? Zuleika dropped off the map almost immediately after our time in Florence. She stayed behind in Italy for a bit, with family in Napoli, and someone said she was in Spain for a while, but I never heard from her. Jen was going back to a life in transition and I was never sure where to reach her. Laura I kept in touch with for a bit, as I did with Wynne. Melinda and I had a small reunion with Wynne during the first semester we were back in California. But before a year had gone by, those contacts had fallen by the wayside as well. I actually ran into Laura one afternoon on campus at Chapman when I was in grad school. We exchanged info, and then never got in touch with each other again.

I remember wondering once if we set ourselves up for losing touch. Part of the pact of meeting again at the Trevi was the idea that we could find each other again if we lost each other in the years to come. The idea of meeting at the fountain had just that much more charm because we didn't know who would be there. And now that it's over, there's a finality to losing track of the other four. We don't have another "In ten years at the Trevi" to anticipate. And so I wonder. In spite of the incredible gift of finding Lisa and Lenay waiting there for our reunion, there's a sadness in the story. For those lost connections, for the four who didn't come--whatever it was that kept them away.

Partial reunion or not, this is a story that will be told for at least another ten years.

At lunch, Lisa & Lenay's mom offered the toast: "Here's to believing in dreams...and to keeping commitments." I'm good at keeping commitments, but I'm not much of one for believing in dreams. I don't like to be disappointed. But that moment of finding Lisa and Lenay waiting at the fountain will continue to remind me for years to come that dreams can be believed and the impossible can be hoped for after all.

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| posted by Barbara | 1:06 AM