I had an email a couple of weeks ago. From Sara, the New Yorker’s mum. In it, she said that she and her husband Stacey wanted to take me out for dinner. They also wanted to invite Sheila, one of my best friends from university who lives here too and who in a weird twist of fate is subletting Sara’s apartment while she’s in London.
Aside from being pretty wowed by the kindness of the gesture, I was fascinated to meet Mom and Pops Lieberman. But beyond that, I was thrilled at the prospect of seeing a mum and a dad, even if it was someone else’s mum and dad. I miss mine.
Anyway, we met tonight at an Irish restaurant called Moran’s in Chelsea and it was one of those nights that you kind of try to hold in your head. They are remarkable people. Funny, generous, great company, but the most remarkable thing about them was that in the midst of what is a very corporate, structured exchange, these two people from Long Island decided to reach out to a woman they don’t know and may never see again, in the best display of human behaviour: open-mindedness, empathy and a sense of adventure.
We talked about the NHS, government subsidies, fishing, the Post, Broadway, marriage, parenting, Sara (of course), Catholicism, British food, British hotels and pensions. We covered ground.
And they made us laugh with the kind of double act conversation that’s only developed after 40 years of marriage.
Stacey: “We met at a Jewish singles night.”
Claudia: “That my dad told me about.”
Stacey: “I met a lot of people there!” ”
Claudia: “He did!”
Stacey: “And then we met.”
Claudia: “And were married in the year.”
When Sheila and I tried to pay the bill, Pops and Mom Lieberman were having none of it, even when in return we suggested taking them out again before I leave in 7 weeks. “Pay it forward”, Stacey said. As I walked the 29 streets and two avenues home, I thought about my own parents and wished they were closer to London so they could cook Sara a Cornish feast.
Sara, Mom and Pops Lieberman miss you. And I see, very clearly, why you miss them.