It is discovered, after twenty years, they like each other,
despite enormous differences (one a psychiatrist, one a city official),
differences that could have been, that were, predicted:
differences in tastes, in inclinations, and, now, in wealth
(the one literary, the one entirely practical and yet
deliciously wry; the two wives cordial and mutually curious.)
And this discovery is, also, discovery of the self, of new capacities:
they are, in this conversation, like the great sages,
the philosophers they used to read (never together), men
of worldly accomplishment and wisdom, speaking
with all the charm and ebullience and eager openness for which
youth is so unjustly famous. And to these have been added
a broad tolerance and generosity, a movement away from any contempt or wariness.
It is a pleasure, now, to speak of the ways in which
their lives have developed, alike in some ways, in others
profoundly different (though each with its core of sorrow, either
implied or disclosed): to speak of the difference now,
to speak of everything that had been, once, part
of a kind of hovering terror, is to lay claim to a subject. Insofar
as theme elevates and shapes a dialogue, this one calls up in them (in
kindness and good will of a sort neither had seemed, before,
to possess. Time has been good to them, and now
they can discuss it together from within, so to speak,
which, before, they could not.
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