Sunday, February 26, 2017

Like Riding A Bike

Met up with some old friends yesterday.

Guys from the inner circle back in high school days. Guys I laughed with and got crazy with and felt close to and trusted in my youth. Guys I haven't seen for from 35 to 40 years.

And it was mind blowing. And the laughter and trust and craziness were still there.

Met up with my friend Dave at the nursing home where his 90+ mom is staying. His 90+ dad was there as well. As I walked towards the building Dave was standing out front; we hugged long, we hugged emotionally. There were tears.

And boom, we were off and running.

When we were teenagers Dave was close to my parents, I was close to his. A lot of time spent in each other's homes. A lot of dinners consumed.

That says a lot about a friendship when the parents are accepted and enjoyed instead of being the enemy.

It was hard seeing his mom. She has had a series of minor strokes and is pretty much confined to a bed. Fragile, kind of in and out of reality. But she lit up when Dave told her I was there. Lit up.

Made me feel so good. She had to hold my hand; had to have me close. I kissed her when we left and she smiled a big smile at me.

Dave's dad is in much better shape. He is sharp and still has the sense of humor that made me laugh in his home. He grilled me about my life; what I have done, what I am doing, my kids, my wife. And he made me laugh along the way.

Half an hour into the visit my friend Barry walked in; he lives close by. Again, a big hug. Quick reminiscing, grilling each other about our lives in between talking with Dave's parents.

We left the nursing home and headed to a supremely funky restaurant and bar, definitely my kind of place. And obviously my friends' kind of place. I dug the fact that we were on the same wavelength even in the choice of where to relax.

The three of us grabbed a table, grabbed a beer and fell into the rhythm of our friendship decades down the road. Unbelievable.

I was looking at these faces that have aged and marveling at how the personalities, the manner of talking, the sense of humor remain the same. So comforting. The shared memories. The camaraderie. All of it so familiar.

Dave and I ate, Barry did not - he had a retirement party to go to.

About an hour after we got there another old friend - Bobby - came bouncing in. Dave had been trying to get a hold of him all week and failed. Turns out Bobby finally called him back as we were leaving the nursing home. Dave didn't bother to tell me Bobby was coming, so when he showed up it was a surprise.

A big surprise. Bobby was always the madman of the group. He came up behind me out of my line of site, wrapped his arm around my neck and kissed me on the lips. It happened so fast I had no idea who the hell it was until I stood and turned around.

I laughed my ass off.

Four guys who graduated high school, getting together after 40 years in complete harmony, easy comfort.

Talking, laughing, reminiscing, updating each other on family and jobs and health and life.

Barry left for the retirement party; more hugs all around. Me, Dave and Bobby hung around for another hour.

Saying good bye was hard. But we committed to attending our 45th reunion together, which is happening in June. We committed to keeping this thing rolling, recognizing that these friendships are too valuable to take for granted.

Perspective is taking up space in my brain today. Thinking about who we were forty years ago, and thinking about who we are now. And, after visiting with Dave's parents, thinking about what may be to come.

My wheels are spinning, my brain and emotions are working overtime. It suddenly feels like there has been a void in my life for forty years. It feels like I need these friends back in my life NOW to reconnect me with who I am.

I feel energized. I hate that fucking overworked word but there is no other way to say it - I feel energized. And I feel positive.

Friendship is magic. Friends are people you are drawn to because of who they are. They are not obligated to love you, they are not born to the relationship. They are people you meet in life and make a connection with that becomes a tangible part of who you are; they affect you, you affect them, you love and trust each other.

Dave, Barry, Bobby - what an amazing day we shared yesterday.

These are my good friends, my friends from the wild, formative times that we all survived and that helped to shape us.

We were comfortable together when we were teenagers; we are comfortable together in our sixties, even after having not seen each other for four decades.

That is the very definition of friendship.

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