The years pass. Friendships, like palimpsests, grow layered, and it becomes impossible to separate what one knew then from what one knows now. If this task is even more difficult when it comes to Jane, it is because she, more than anyone I know, has the strangest relationship to the past. The agelessness one feels around her, and that I’m sure I felt that morning in May nineteen years ago—when I first met her on her stoop—has to do with the way time feels different around her. She embodies the past, without belonging to any fixed moment, or period, in it.

It was our mutual Brazilian friend Hugo Jereisatti who introduced Jane and me. The sense I had that day of knowing her before I had met her, and of it not mattering when we would meet again, of familiarity without attachment, is part of a mood I associate, through music, with the 1960s in this country. It is a kind of American subjunctive, if you will. It is there in songs, such as “Scarborough Fair” and “Famous Blue Raincoat”; it is there to so great an extent in Dylan, that feeling of chance meetings and of an unsentimental relationship to the past—“We’ll meet again some day on the avenue”—that it scarcely bears mentioning.