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Long ago friend

Posted September 7th, 2017 at 11:18 AM by Sylvano the Wasabus
Long ago friend

Iíve never had a boat load of friends, just a few true real ones. Yesterday I bumped into the guy whoíd been my best friend growing up.

We came from a small town. We went to the same school and became friends in grade 7 because most of the other kids took the bus and we walked home together. Okay, obviously thatís not the real reason we became friends. We saw life the same way, were interested in the same things and were lonely.

He was heavily into hockey but he had a bad home life. His father was a beater and a drunk and smacked around his whole family. My father was a beater and sober Ė he beat us occasionally and mostly just shouted at us. Perhaps it was this common pain that drew us together.

We did all the normal things that kids do- explored nearby wood lots, played sports and games and stood up for each at school. It was grade 7 and 8 and things were just getting serious- girls were becoming girls and boys were becoming competitive and some became bullies. It was a tumultuous time.

My friend was smart enough but did poorly in school. His main focus was on his home life. He became the protector and inserted himself between his father and whomever his pa was raging at. He grew big in high school- not only taller but huskier and even chubby. By grade 11 he was 200 pounds with attitude.

I remember him coming to my house in tears in the middle of the night, wearing only underwear. His father was drunk and had starting hitting his mom, so heíd got between them. He didnít want to strike his father. His dad punched him and heíd warned his father, who responded with a second punch. So my friend hit his father in the face and broke his jaw. That was the night his father left- but of course he came around again occasionally to threaten and cause trouble.

My friend became a drinker and a brawler. He worked as a bouncer. He tried college but beat up an instructor who made a random insult concerning my friendís mother. He became loud mouthed and aggressive. He tried to join the police but they wouldnít take him.

We were friends for a few more years and then drifted apart. He liked to drink and I didnít.

Iíve always thought that some people peaked in high school. My friend hit a long plateau, and I was still arcing for the sky. His life became beer and cars and he got a job in a factory. I left town following stardust.

Now, thirty three years later we have bumped into each other. I was taking my elderly parents out and they wanted to stop at a bakery and buy a blueberry pie. I knew my old friend worked there- he and his wife own the place. He still works in the factory too, and runs the bakery and a small restaurant besides.

He did not seem surprised to see me. The meeting was formal. We shook hands and he avoided my eyes. I was happy to see the anger in him was gone. He seemed at peace. He was still a big fella, but he radiated calmness. I got the feeling that he was now good at dealing with people.

Weíd been through a lot in our youth but there was no connection now. Where was that angry young man? I know heíd grown and matured. Maybe I couldnít connect because his angry young man is buried deep inside- I did sense that. Iím glad that heís found peace. But I also felt that he was avoiding me and wished that I would leave. Perhaps Iím only a reminder of an unhappy time in his life.

I donít blame him. I havenít been a part of his life for a long while. When he went into his hardest times- anger and alcohol- I went off into my own dark forest. Paths diverged. What remains?

Just blueberry pie.
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TheAverageFan's Avatar
Great read. I recently heard from an old friend again not long ago. Not much had changed but we'd nonetheless drifted apart. Life just keeps moving, after all I suppose.

~TAF
Posted September 11th, 2017 at 03:42 AM by TheAverageFan TheAverageFan is offline
 
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