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Special friendships

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Tonight as I reached out for a Prokofiev recording, my arm felt as though it wasn't going to reach the shelf. As though my ''friend'' Sergei's finger tips and mine weren't going to touch over the decades anymore. I knew that wasn't so. This was simply another illustration of the peculiar rhythm my friendships have always had. I was reminded of this rhythm a few weeks ago when I got a letter from a college friend I hadn't seen since the '60s. Suddenly she'd wanted to find me and to know what I was doing. I know this is not a coincidence. Something is bringing us together again. Perhaps it will only be a tangential touching of hearts. Perhaps there's a facet of me that has now developed that will mean something to her. Or maybe it's the other way around.

That's the way my relationships have always composed themselves. Individuals appearing, disappearing, and reappearing, like certain colors, lines, and forms in a painting that only meet on the canvas when they are essential to the unity of the work of art as a whole. I always have a distinct feeling of purpose whenever I meet someone. It's not that I think there's always a deep, far-reaching reason for the meeting (although there sometimes is). It's just that when a contact is made I feel as though it must be the next right note in the ongoing symphony of life, as I relate to it.

I love the friendships I have with certain individuals of other centuries - who exist and speak to humanity in ways that transcend time and personal presence. I've always loved music, although I've never played an instrument and don't even read notes. But in the past ten years I've found myself with recordings of more and more favorite composers whose music I love, and who are all ''friends.'' There seem to be certain composers who reach deep within me and speak to me - not with messages that have words but as a friend with whom you're at once totally compatible, linked heart to heart.

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