It was Sanders first
visit back to New York, if you didnt count the quick trips after his
fathers and then his mothers deaths, in fifteen years. He was now a
vice-president in the San Francisco branch of a paper goods company and he was
there to attend a meeting. Hed called his sister Rose and now he stood
uneasily in the crowded living room of her house in Queens. Rose had gone all
out in assembling what was left of their family - Aunt Sarah and Uncle Jack,
both now at least in their eighties, his cousins Mark, Henry and Beth, even
some of his old friends, Ed Cohen from the old neighborhood, Stan Parker from
his old high school, and of course Ruth Gold. Ruth, now married with two
children hed been told, but shed come by herself.
While surrounded by his
aunt and uncle and cousins Sanders was looking at Ruth. She was around 40 now
but to Sanders she looked as lovely as ever. Her hair, down to her shoulders,
was still a glossy brown. Her oval face was still serious and her gray eyes
still had their depth. Sanders was recounting how hed gone to San
Francisco because he felt he was getting nowhere in New York and had gotten the
job with the paper goods company and advanced to vice-president of marketing,
Yes, hed made a lot of friends out there. (This wasnt entirely
true; he had a couple). No, he hadnt married; just hadnt met the
right one yet. (He didnt go into the three or four affairs hed had,
one of which had ended disastrously and the others had just petered
Finally, he managed to make
his way to Ruth. Im glad you came, he said. Ruth was still
Roses best friend, even though Sanders had, among other things, left Ruth
behind when hed decided his future was in California and not in New
I had to see what the
big success looked like, said Ruth.
Not such a big
success. A nice title but thats all. So you have two
Yes, a boy and a
I suppose you have
course. She reached into her purse and brought them
pretty, like her mother. The boys handsome.
Thank you. And what
about you? Still unmarried?
stood there quietly for a while, then he suddenly asked, he couldnt help
it, Are you happy?
She appeared to consider,
the grave face that he remembered. Reasonably so. Isnt that all we
can ask for?
And what about you?
Are you happy?
Before he could answer his
friends Ed and Stan came over and said, Come on, your sister Rose wants
to take some pictures. He was swept away.
The rest of the afternoon
passed quickly and then it was time to say his good-byes. When he came to Ruth
Gold he almost took her in his arms but caught himself and said, It was
nice seeing you.
Yes. Be happy in San
Sanders latest girl friend
picked him up at the airport in San Francisco. When hed gotten into the
car she asked, How was New York? Howd the meeting
Did you get to see a
lot of old friends?
Sanders had a quick
recollection of saying good-bye to Ruth Gold. He wondered if she was thinking
what he was thinking at that moment.