Happy Birthday Alex Wong

I sat alone, the City ignoring me while it worried down the concrete paths, paths traveled by people more famous than you. As well as those without a place to find a hot meal. Children, tourists, artists, students. Bums who may have been students or artists, but left childhood in a sad wake of despair long ago. The City is like that—all cities are. No one is alone, but many are lonely.
My great-great grandfather helped build this Park, I remembered. I wanted to tell someone, but the passersby wouldn’t care. They wouldn’t care that I came alone to drink in the sights and sounds of my heritage before plotting a book. I shrugged off the uneasiness of the day, thinking it a shame that I’d taken the train only to feel out of place and uninspired. I missed my husband.
As I stood and gathered my things, laughter caught my attention and I looked over my shoulder.
Somehow it didn’t surprise me to see you. It should have, of course. What are the chances?
I was anonymous. You were not. I felt like a voyeur, a bit uncomfortable. I wanted to do one of those social networking knee-jerk reactions. “I just saw Alex Wong! No, dude, he’s right here! Getting his picture taken!” I’m proud I had the grace to avoid that.
My second thought, of course, was that I should say “hi.” Come on, Terry. He looks so young in person. Less than half your age, but with far, far less than half your cynicism.
In retrospect, two things stopped me. I might have said something inane like “I’m the woman who wanted to help you from Princeton…you might remember…” Ugh. That sounded a bit too much like “Hey, young dancer on the tour, did you get my bag of candy/bracelet/book/email/twitter/message?” You know, the ones who sometimes sound kinda creepy? Prideful, I probably didn’t want to be disappointed that you wouldn’t remember…
The second thing that stopped me was that you weren’t alone. You were comfortable, it seemed. You also looked a bit worn out. Some very sane, very content part of me knew that I didn’t need to intrude to be happy to see you. That I didn’t need for you to see me. That after all, what we all wanted for you was health and happiness. It looked like you were on your way to both. Anyway, if memory serves correctly, you wore a long sleeve shirt with the sleeves rolled up, and grey pants. Or am I just remembering that because I’ve seen this photo?
And then you were on your way. Poof!
Several weeks later you sat a handful of rows in front of me at Radio City. Chaotic! I caught an early train after seeing a tremendous ovation for you.
So many thousands of fans will never see you in person, of course. I’ve seen you “in vivo” five times now, two on stage, three off. Oddly enough, the most thrilling time was in my living room one Wednesday night, I guess it was… and you were just pixels moving about.
As you get well, defying the calendar and no doubt headed for amazing cool new gigs, I can safely say that you actually made a difference in my life. I wrote once before about how you allowed me to grieve the passing of my mother. Now, you’re a living reminder of how something that seems like a tragedy can be a tiny road bump. I’m going through some major hurdles in my life right now, and I need these reminders. We all do.
You wrote once when I expressed concern for you that you really were having a good time. That you were happy. That maybe it was just your defense mechanism kicking in… Doesn’t seem that way. I don’t know you, but you don’t strike me as delusional. “There’s a reason for everything.” I can’t wait to see what that reason is for you. I know what it is for me. I watched that damned reality TV show for a reason.
If the well wishes and good vibes and prayers of strangers can actually affect change, then you are in for some very, very great times.
And by the way, the balustrade you leaned against for that photo was built by my great-great grandfather.
I finally got to tell someone.

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One thought on “Happy Birthday Alex Wong

  1. BJ Wheeler says:

    You’ve told one more person now. 🙂 I find it wonderful that you can go to that park and know that your great-great grandfather helped to build something as wonderful as a park and it is still there today. 🙂

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