Sunday, March 31, 2019

Visiting the Band--and Our Daughters

Rose and Hannah

Holly and me

A bright Springtime sun shone yesterday, and the weather was only part of the warmth I felt.

It was a Girls Day Out in New York with my dear friend Holly, and our daughters Rose and Hannah. We have been friends since the girls were babies, and now these babies are all-grown-up Brooklynites with apartments and Manhattan careers. As we ate lunch in a delightful bistro, we laughed and split desserts and caught up on each other’s lives. I recalled playdates, the Mother-Daughter Book Club we were part of when our girls were in elementary school, and the decades of Christmas week family dinners shared. The little girls who ran lemonade stands in an Oreland yard, have become two accomplished young women navigating a big, exciting, stressful city.

Outside the theatre

 After lunch, Hannah and Rose went on with their days, and Holly and I proceeded a few blocks north, to Broadway and our matinee. The Band's Visit swept the Tony Awards in 2018, and for good reason. Everything, from the imaginative set to the impeccable performances to the haunting score, is top-notch. The storyline is simple—a military band from Egypt is invited to perform in an Israeli city, Petah Tikvah. When they purchase their bus tickets, the Egyptians mistakenly book passage to a totally different place with a very similar name, Bet Hatikva. And so they arrive in this isolated desert town, where they are invited to send the night. The townspeople are used to waiting for something to happen, from the restless cafĂ© owner Dina, who longs for a more exciting life, to the young man who camps out at the town’s only pay phone, waiting (and waiting) for his girlfriend to call him. The arrival of these strange musicians definitely makes things happen. Dina develops feelings for the band’s conductor. A squabbling young couple finds peace as they listen to a band member’s beautiful clarinet solo soothing their fussy baby. A sweetly singing Arab coaches a clumsy Israeli youth, who fears approaching the girl he likes. The band’s 24 hour visit changes everyone, and offers a glimpse of the amazing possible—a world where traditional adversaries discover common ground, no matter their language or culture or political baggage.

On the train ride home, I thought about friendship, and how much we all need it in our lives. Often, random encounters spark these lasting relationships (I met Holly when she, the pastor’s wife, watched tiny Rose in the church nursery when we first visited Christ’s Lutheran in 1989). Were we destined to connect? Were the musicians who misspelled their destination meant to connect with the residents of Bet Hatikva? I am forever grateful that we bump into each other on the road of life, stop and recognize that we are companions.

Something is always happening. In New York. In Bet Hatikva. Even in Oreland. I feel so lucky to have had something wonderful happen to me, on a sunny Spring Saturday, in the company of women I love very much.

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