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Finding Sarah

A Woodstock Country School Story


Early one morning in 2007, the day before Mother’s Day, I awoke at 4am filled with anxiety. I reached over, nudged Barbara, and told her the last time I felt this type of anxiety was 45 years ago when I was camping with friends on Cape Cod. Back then, I awoke at 4am, told my friends something was wrong, packed my gear and hitched to Boston. Hours later I arrived at the Howard Johnson's on Route 128. I called a friend from Woodstock and asked if she’d pick me up. She said yes, but then asked if I’d heard about the accident? A dear friend from Woodstock was killed in a car that night.


Now we skip ahead 45 years. It’s 2007 again.

I re-awake at 9 am remembering the anxiety of 4 am and call my 94 year old mother to make sure she’s OK, the Russian superstitions of my ancestors reverberating in my psyche.

I say “Hello.” 

My mother asks: “Who's this?” 

It's Henry.” 

Henry who?” 

It's me, Henry, your son.” She’s a little deaf, but I know she’s all right.


Later in the morning, Barbara and I go to Beacon for my mail. We are in a meandering mood, a rare day with time for whimsy. We stop at a kayak store on the banks of the Hudson River in Peekskill; we’re always interested in kayaks. 


At the water’s edge we meet a couple. They have come to see their grandson play soccer, but have gotten the day wrong. They too had time on their hands. Soon the guy and I are talking about kayaks and Barbara is having a conversation with his wife. The guy tells me they have a house in Mamaroneck, and own several types of kayaks. He then offers to let us try out the different styles. He gives me his name and telephone number!


While we’re chatting, I overhear Barbara talking to his wife about Antioch College. I look over and mention I once had a friend who went to Antioch. She asks, “What’s the person’s name?” I tell her it’s a long time ago, but she insists, so I tell my old friend’s name: “Sarah Robbins.” The woman looks at me strangely and points to herself. “I'm Sarah Robbins.” I don’t seem to hear what she’s saying.  She repeats, “I’m Sarah Robbins.”  “You’re Sarah Robbins,” I ask incredulously. “Yes,” she says, “I’m Sarah Robbins.” At this point, my mind begins the most incredible of journeys. This woman is morphing into my 11th grade crush. Henry being Henry, I burst into tears, and give Sarah Robbins the biggest hug. 


Joe Oatfield taught me I was fey in the 10th grade, we were reading Edgar Cayce.

Sarah is the girl I called 45 years earlier from Howard Johnson’s.

Sarah and her husband Ron have become our very dear friends and Barbara and I will be married soon in their backyard.

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