One Moment

Was there ever a moment when my life was lived outside the walls of the identity I’ve built to describe “me,” the person who “I” am, the person I wound up being?

A moment springing forth from pure being, not from the construction I call myself. A moment of unfiltered bliss. A moment of shocking intensity, unplanned, unanticipated.

This was a question asked by the Forum leader in today’s final session.

A person may only have one or two such moments in life, if lucky. And then that moment lives on in memory as the experience of being alive.

Yes. I relive that moment in my life now and my heart leaps. That perfect moment when suddenly I wasn’t the man I wound up being.

I can feel the warm spring air on Fillmore Street. I can feel the evening; I see the street before me as clearly as the street out my window. I see the Balboa Café, lights gleaming, the street windows open on the warm night. I hear the people inside.

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I see E is standing in front of the open café window. We had arranged to meet there following a dinner she had planned with another man, a man she was letting out of her life. It was only the third time we had met. The first time was the fateful dinner party at TM’s house. The second time was for coffee outside in Hayes Valley.

Given the short time we had known one another E had made an unusual request. She had asked whether she could spend the night in my apartment on the night in question. She had planned the dinner in San Francisco and was meant to drive to a rowing competition in Sacramento early the next morning. Staying in the city would eliminate her need to drive home to Menlo Park, and then back through the city again the next morning. I explained that I lived in a studio apartment but had twin beds.

And there she was in front of the Balboa. She didn’t see me approach until the last moment when she turned and without hesitation I took her in my arms and kissed her. I kissed her as I had never kissed anyone before. I have no idea where the confidence, the passion came from. It was a moment of total abandonment.

She responded and everyone seated at the front tables at the Balboa broke out in applause.

In that kiss, that brief moment in time, I was alive. I have never been happier. I had waited my entire life for that moment. I will never again have such a moment. For giving me that respite from the man I wound up being I will love E forever, even though I erased her from my life. That was later.

That warm spring night all the lights of life burned brightly. We walked up Fillmore Street to Gamine. We stayed there briefly; I don’t think E even finished her glass of wine. We went to my apartment, my first apartment in San Francisco, in Golden Gateway on Battery Street. The twin beds lasted for a while. That was the beginning.

Can the memory of that moment out of time be a springboard to a new possibility? Not to be duplicated but to be realized in a new state of being, free to be, free to act? To live a life of my choosing, not constrained by the past, not constrained by my self-defined identity? Can I take that once upon a time spontaneity and project it into my life today? To live without fear? To know there’s no other shoe to drop?

To accept that there’s nothing here but this moment in time, that the past doesn’t exist, the future doesn’t exist, and to accept that this moment is meaningless, and to stand in that meaninglessness and create a future that doesn’t yet exist? To bring forth something from nothing? To declare the possibility of a new way of being? And be it?

The kiss isn’t gone. It’s as real tonight as on that years ago warm spring night on Fillmore Street. E is gone. San Francisco is gone. To be free is also to allow others to be free. To release them from the constraints of how I think about them.

The past is meaningless. Let it go and be free.

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