On December 2nd of that year, I was waiting for Leonard Michaels, noted fiction writer, to emerge from the baggage claim area of the Rome, Italy airport. He had just landed from San Francisco. I saw him from afar before he saw me. I didn’t leap up to reassure him, but watched instead.  

He was wearing a three-quarter length black cashmere coat over a casual cotton shirt, a loosely-knotted, slender tie adding an angled line to his graceful slouch and ease of motion. He had on blue jeans, not too new, not too old.  Sad but true, blue jeans could tell the story of a man.  Some could wear them right, and some could not. Lenny was rangy with wide shoulders and a street walk, fluid not ferocious. He could wear blue jeans, elegantly, yet not too.  His shoes were pleasing in their plenitude of leather and simplicity of design. Apparently, he had an eye; but I knew that, already. Not just from his writing.

I stood up and waved to him. He smiled from across the hall and sauntered up. Happily, gazing squarely into my face, he announced, “You look terrible.”  So it hadn’t just been a bad mirror or garish light in the marble-clad, airport bathroom.  All my history was written on my face, that day.

He took my arm, perfectly at ease, as if he had never had even the briefest brush with loss or desperation.  He was—against all odds—at home.