I can’t begin to describe the impact of having one’s past drop in for a visit after—would you believe forty-five years?
Jeff (on the right) and I (on the left) were best friends from first through sixth grade and the first year of junior high. We had an inordinate interest in the young women in our class and regularly had lunch with the three hottest hotties. A force to be reckoned with, we were determined to make our presence known, for example, in the second grade, by singing the Everly Brothers’ Bird Dog a capella before all the parents at a school assembly.
Guardian angels must have known we were stifling the first day at junior high in an imbecilic “art” class, because we were both mercifully yanked from that torture chamber and deposited in Mr. Devore’s boys glee club. There we could spread our wings and express ourselves as few in our class were able. We were excelling in everything from wood shop to math class and life couldn’t have been better for this daring duo, when suddenly my parents yanked me out of the public school system and enrolled me in a parochial school. Except for one occasion eight years later when I visited Jeff at his parents’ house, that was the last time I ever saw my best friend… until—thanks to the Internet—this last Sunday when he came to my home.
I can’t really say we picked up the conversation without pause, because all those decades are difficult to bridge in an instant. Still, there was never an awkward moment as we recounted the intervening years, marveling all the while how our lives, while quite different— Jeff is a naval architect and I am a hair stylist—had paralleled on numerous levels.
We had both gone to college in the San Francisco Bay area, at times living minutes apart. We had both learned to sail and the boat I enjoyed racing most was designed by the only man to fire my friend. We both share linguistic skills. And while we both sought out French as the first idiom to study, we are both more at home in Spanish, which we learned on the fly.
We both met our present wives by chance. I met Toni on a blind date. She was inclined at first to decline, when she changed her mind, accepted, and set us on an irrevocable course to marital bliss. Jeff met Barbara under a similar fluke. Depending on the day of the week, the plane he was taking from Mexico City to the United States would either stop over at Mazatlan or Puerto Vallarta. A day earlier or later, and he would not have met Barb at that Mazatlan hotel. Toni and I married after less than six months. Jeff and Barb didn’t require much more.
The visit lasted only two hours, but ever since, snippets of time, vignettes from the past, faces and names keep revisiting. I don’t know when we’ll next meet, though we promised the next get-together will not be four or five decades from now. 🙂 And I must apologize. I had planned to have my wife take a current photo of Jeff and me. Somehow, though, the camera never came to mind.