Smashing all precedent, I kept a secret and managed to produce a January surprise party for my husband’s 40th birthday. The friend who facilitated that surprise is the man who introduced me to Peter 15 years ago in New York City.
In 1998, I’d settled into a hit Broadway show. I also taught acting. That summer, Mike, a gifted University of Michigan sophomore, came to study; afterward, we kept in touch. When he graduated, he brought his college roommate to coach with me. Peter.
Goodness, he’s handsome, I mused, as Peter entered my studio. Please, let him have some talent. And he did. Lots. So, we began working together. Time passed, until unexpectedly a magical thing happened that neither Peter nor I expected, and here we are, 15 years later: husband and wife for 9 of them.
For many interesting reasons, our years together have taught us about love in ways complex, surprising, and gratifying. A karmic match if ever there was one, Peter and I have Mike from Michigan to thank for it.
Cross-fade: San Francisco, 2010. We’d kept in scant touch with Mike, but we knew he’d had success in TV commercials, that he traveled all over the world to help rebuild communities in distress, and that he’d decided to study massage somewhere on the West Coast. Finally, we knew he was in San Francisco, but we didn’t know exactly where. We let him know we’d moved here, but busy lives kept us apart and our paths never crossed.
We hadn’t laid eyes on Mike for over a decade.
Another cross-fade: 2012. Peter Facebook-ed Mike, telling him we were moving from Lombard Street to another neighborhood.
“Oh, really? Where?” Mike messaged back. A natural question.
“The Haight district. A really great house there,” Peter replied.
“Come on! Really?”
“What street?” Mike wanted to know.
“Page,” Peter offered.
“Yeah, Page Street. Why?
“What number?” Not necessarily a natural question. Peter told him our address. Mike typed his address. It was four houses from the house we were about to move into.
The man who introduced Peter and me, and who then disappeared from our lives for years, was now going to be our close neighbor. Our Yenta, our matchmaker Mike, was back in our lives. As if we’d never said goodbye.
So when I needed to keep Peter out of the house while I set up 25 guests, I turned to Mike, who, like a good neighbor, was glad to help. Mike took Peter out for birthday drinks until I phoned the “all clear” for bringing Peter home. The guests, stuffed into our den, leapt out on cue and shouted “surprise,” nearly giving my astonished husband cardiac arrest.
We spent a marvelous S.F. evening: pals playing jazz and show tunes at the piano, a neighbor riffing along on his mellow saxophone, friends new and old talking far into the night on the widest spectrum of subjects you could ever imagine under one roof, and devouring the two tall, gorgeous cakes baked by Dr. Sheldon Cale.
When the last guest left at 3 am, Peter held me in his arms and thanked me for this first surprise party of his life. I told him how I couldn’t have done it without the help of his old college roommate, our now-neighbor: Mike.
I could say that about the last 15 years as well.