With a rainy afternoon free in Manhattan (which is not something to take lightly, for anyone), I went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, a trip I’d missed for at least a dozen years. It’s truly one of the world’s great art museums and I love being left free to gaze at art, looking for those pieces which may move me or thrill me in one way or another — through the heart or the head.
Starting in the Antiquities section, meandering among ancient Greek and Roman marble busts, torsos, and assorted objets d’art, there was no choice but to summon the spirit of the late, great Reynolds Price. As a naive 21-year-old at Duke, I’d stumbled into Price’s Milton class, with little idea that my life’s course was about to be shifted, dramatically. Later in that semester, after having shared social drinks at his country house and dined with him at a local Greek favorite, then cooked for him in his own kitchen with friends, I opened myself to the idea of being his full-time live-in assistant post graduation. An odd thought at first, it proved to be a wise commitment. Little time was required before I knew that there was truly no limit to the wisdom I could glean from the accomplished Southern Man of Letters. It proved more and more true. Sixteen years almost to the week afterI’d first called him “Professor Price,” the man I then knew simply as Reynolds breathed his last. Those later years were filled with frequent visits of afternoon drinks in his private living quarters, during which time we laughed heartily, told bawdy jokes, shared intimate stories, and continued developing what I regard as one of the deepest friendships of my life.