My very first best friend in the world was Angie Fontana. My family had just moved into a new house in Lynchburg, Va., the week before my 5th birthday, and I became fast friends with the younger girl who lived two houses up the street.
We shared the most important thing in the world at the time: "The Partridge Family," often nestled next to each other, side by side, in my diddy's recliner, watching "The Brady Bunch" at 8 p.m. on Friday, followed by the adventures of Keith and the gang.
Angie and her family—her parents and older brother and sister—moved to St. Louis by the time I was 10 or so, and sadly we lost touch over time. In fact, it wasn't until the early 1990s when I was living in Washington, D.C., that we reconnected for a quick lunch in the city. Man, oh, man, was Angie a beautiful woman. And by that time, I had come out... the connection was robust, albeit hasty.
Fast forward, geez, another 20 years! Despite that brief encounter—before email and Facebook—we managed to lose each other again. By this point, Angie was living in Florida and I soon relocated to New York. And then, out of nowhere, she found me earlier this week, sent a quick email, which I followed with a long gush... and now, by god, I hope to hell we never lose each other again.
Funny, every July 14, all of my life, I remember Angie's birthday... It has stayed in my lil' noggin for forty-plus years. Now... at last... I hope to be able to CALL Angie on her birthday. This is one of those moments that is a rare gift, a rush, a thread to the deep past... and boy, it's making me one happy fellow.
Ironically, on Tuesday, I'm returning to Lynchburg to see the folks, who now live not even a mile from the house that I grew up in and where Angie lived up the street. You can bet I'll do a drive-by, and will likely pause, smile and maybe even muster a fond tear. It's good. *