The New 60
BY Robert Levithan
December 20 2010 2:10 PM ET
Most Sundays, I can be found at table 60 at Hundred Acres Restaurant in SoHo. I have lived on an upper floor of its building for a while. I meant to stay a year or so between selling and buying spaces. To my surprise, this past summer, when a real estate deal collapsed, I was actually relieved: I love living here. The restaurant is a second home. My father had restaurants. Being on a first-name basis with the staff, having a regular table and known likes (club soda with lemon arrives without placing an order) feels like my childhood revived. I also enjoy mixing my friends. In larger homes I would entertain at home more: cocktails for 40 or dinner for 16. Now I use the restaurant as my "dining club."
Today we were six: a long-married couple, a gay couple who have been together in some form since they were teenagers in Kentucky, a divorced Turkish designer, and myself. As is often the case, some were acquainted, some had not met, and yet I trusted that the conversation would be lively: on life, the world situation, style and silliness. We are as likely to discuss a play, a sweater, the business climate in China, or yachting on the Turkish coast as the merits of the excellent brunch. Next week it’ll be a different crew, some repeats, perhaps, a wild card or two.
Tomorrow night I am having dinner with my friend Joe, who turned 91 yesterday. On Friday, I spent time with a 24-year-old. Last night I had a date with a 43-year-old actor. Tonight I am seeing the final performance of The Scottsboro Boys on Broadway with my ex and his lover. To quote, once again, my friend Felicity: “I only add, I never subtract!” Friendship and romance and family can blend and intermix: all ages and backgrounds, the newly met and the lifelong-cherished In part, this is how I deal with being childless and single.
I also work as part of a community. Last Tuesday night I sat in a big group at Friends in Deed and marveled at the level of discourse — the close to 40 men and women who had chosen to be there on a chilly December evening. Even though most of them were dealing with crisis in their lives, there was a sense of well-being, a sense of belonging, a sense of the shared journey. It is a privilege to be in the presence of such honesty and courage. It amazes me that I am invited into the internal journey of some these clients: Being a therapist is like going into the structure, the plot line, and working to facilitate new patterns, passages, and potential outcomes. Working within the mystery, we attempt transformation, often successfully. Wow!
I write a lot about luck and fortune. Fortune, as a wise friend explained to me a couple of years ago, is different from luck. Fortune is when we take luck and apply it, put it to good use. I have been lucky, and I am fortunate. Having a full social and professional network requires both good fortune and effort. I invest in relationships because they sustain me, personally, professionally, and spiritually. Our lives reflect our choices. In order to compensate for the lack of my own children, and at present, a partner, I need to reach out, mingle, and create social opportunities that reflect my comfort levels and ambitions. I would rather give a party than attend one, so I like to host. I enjoy live performance, so I buy pairs of tickets and invite a friend. I accept invitations from friends and colleagues that reinforce our connection. Therefore, when I am overwhelmed or disappointed, I have people to turn to and they have me.
I am fortunate to have created a life that is multidimensional, rich, and perfectly flawed. In the last column I was feeling at the mercy of the holidays. Today I am willing to celebrate life and the spark of love that illuminates it amidst the dark moments.
To luck, to love, to good fortune and joy. Happy New Year.