Slava

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Earlier this evening I was walking through New York City to meet a friend. I turned right on 15th Street and found myself passing the apartment building I last called home 11 1/2 years ago.

The place has special meaning for me. It’s where the wife and I first cohabited; the location where, in 2001, I proposed.

Anyhow, I looked inside the lobby and saw a familiar face manning the door. Her name is Slava. She was one of my absolute favorite people. Whenever I returned home back in the day, I’d yell out, “Slava!” and she’d counter with, “Jeff!” We’d talk about life and kids and experiences. On the day I proposed, Slava gave me a warning that the girlfriend had arrived. “She’s here!” she said, calling up.

“OK,” I replied, nervously. “Thanks.”

Anyhow, it’d been a long time. Very long. And, at first, I just walked past the building. Hell, there’s no way she’d remember me. Think of all the tenants who’d come and gone. We’re talking hundreds and hundreds of faces.

Then, after walking a block, I stopped and turned around. Why wouldn’t I say hello? What’s the worst that could happen? She wouldn’t recognize me, I’d explain, there’d be an awkward silence, I’d leave. Big whoops. Hence, I marched back down, nervously opened the door and stood before her.

She looked up. One second pause.

“JEFF!”

“Slava!”

She gave me a warm hug. A great hug. We chatted for a long time. Her son—a boy when I last knew her—is now a man. Married. A daughter. She was warm and peppy and enthusiastic. The Slava the wife and I always loved.

Anyhow, I’m not entirely sure of the point here. But it pays to turn around.

Always turn around.

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