Challenge Day 09: Someone you didn’t want to let go, but just drifted
There is a quote I saw posted once (on Facebook, I think) that goes something like this;
“There comes a point in your life when you realize who matters, who never did, who won’t anymore, and who always will. So don’t worry about the people from your past; there’s a reason why they didn’t make it to your future.”
I don’t remember who said it, and I’m too lazy (busy?) right now to look it up, but the point is that it I found myself nodding as I read it; for the most part, we leave people behind with good reason.
That being said, there are still a few people I wish I’d never lost touch with…
After I’d already left school, I made friends with an English teacher who tried to help me (encourage me) to get some of my work published… I’ve always regretted losing touch with her. There have been a small handful of others as well; my old secretary at the only office job I ever intend on having, a good friend mistakenly turned boyfriend who didn’t want to remain just-pals after I broke up with him (a great guy nonetheless), and a sprinkling of mates from my youth. Of these, there is one that I’m thinking about a lot all of a sudden, so I choose him now to help me meet today’s challenge.
My entire life I have gotten along better with guys than I have with gals. I suspect this is because I’m not really into many ‘girly’ type things, but I think it might also have to do with the fact that I don’t get the natural cattiness that my sex often tends to have towards one another; it’s difficult (for me) to be friends with people that are frequently competing with you via a sort of passive-aggressive vigour that I was never designed to understand. That’s not to say that I don’t have female friends – I do – but friendships with males have always come a little more naturaly for me. Out of all of the many platonic bonds I’ve shared with members of the opposite sex, only this one that I allude to now stands out as a shining beacon from my past…
As a kid, I spent a lot of my summers on a small island about a 30 minute ferry ride from Swartz Bay on Vancouver Island. I also spent two consecutive years attending school there, and it is in this land that was completely different from my regular stomping grounds in the Okanogan, that I incurred a few of the greatest (and – in some cases – most original) friendships of my lifetime. Hands down, the most memorable of these friendships was with a guy who we’ll call Jerry.
Jerry and I first met when fate landed us in the same seventh grade class. We became friends after I caught him cheating on an English assignment to write a short story. He copied – verbatim – a selection from Dean R. Koontz’s ‘Watchers’; which just happened to be my favourite book at the time; and the instant he began reading out his project in front of the class I started grinning away to myself. Of course I never busted him out, but I did approach him at lunch to quote the line from the book that would have followed where ‘his’ story left off. This caused him to burst into the most amusingly animated fit of laughter you can imagine – snorting, knee slapping and all – and we became instant friends.
He was an easy going kind of guy that always reminded me a little of Casey from the old Canadian kid’s show, Mr. Dressup (he always hated it when I pointed that out and more often than not he’d reward my amusement with a punch in the arm). He was quick to smile, easy to make laugh, and he liked pretty much the exact same things that I liked.
From the very birth of our relationship, Jerry and I spent every single day hanging out. We’d rent ‘The Lost Boys’ from the local video store (on VHS no less) every week; really, every single week; and go back to my place to watch it. By the last time we sat and watched that movie together, both of us could quote the damn thing word for word, and to this day I can’t watch it without thinking about him. He was the first person I ever smoked weed with (pilfered from my dad’s private stash) and since we shared the same interests when it came to reading, sometimes we’d just spend full afternoons sitting silently side by side on the grass at the big park overlooking the harbour, reading the same books so that we could talk about them in depth afterwards.
That time of my life was, in many ways, my first real taste of childhood, and I loved it so much that I can’t help looking back at it with a sort of glowy-warm feeling in my heart. Especially when I think about the time I shared with Jerry.
One day I went to school and he was just gone. I called him that afternoon to see if he was well, and his mom told me that he’d gone to live with his dad in Ontario. That’s it. No goodbye, no final screening of ‘The Lost Boys’, no discussion on our current novel selection… just gone. I was – without trying to lean towards unnecessary melodrama here – completely heart broken. 😦 Honestly, I’ve gone through ugly breakups that didn’t so effectively shatter me. Throughout the years I have had a tendency to hold many of my friendships up to that light, and a lot of them have seemed dreadfully pale in comparison. Jerry and I had shared everything – like every damn thing – at a crucial time in our personal development, and it was incredibly hard on me to lose him from my life.
Now, about hmm, three years ago or so, Jerry moved back to the island. I learned this when he looked me up on Facebook. We had a good reunion-type chat and I finally learned why he’d disappeared so suddenly; like me, he came from a less than ideal upbringing and after one too many altercations at home, he’d fled to what he’d hoped would be a more peaceful life with his dad. He reminded me of the time I broke his leg. It was a total accident – we were standing atop the cement steps outside the gymnasium and he said something that got me laughing and I play-shoved him, causing him to stumble backwards as he roared with laughter. He fell through (not over but through) the badly rusted rail and landed quite awkwardly on the grass below. This resulted in him donning a gigantic cast for what I remember as being months. He also reminded me of the time we entered an air-band competition; fake rocking out to Bon Jovi’s ‘Bad Medicine; and I laughed harder than I had in years.
Yes, during that reunion-type chat, we talked passionately about the good old days; he even saw fit to tease me about not having ‘The Lost Boys’ listed as one of my favourite movies, and I felt compelled to amend that immediately; but when the chat ended, it came with a sort of bittersweet realization. Time changes things, life takes you places often unexpected and it’s generally all but impossible to truly recapture the magical moments of our youth, no matter how badly we might wish to get them back. We’re still pals on Facebook, and we occasionally talk about hooking up the next time I make it back to the island, but things could never be the same; we’re all grown up now.
Though I don’t typically like to waste time dwelling on past regrets, I really do wish that Jerry and I had never drifted apart all those years ago. Even though a lifetime has passed since then, that one friendship – that bond we shared – still means the world to me.
On that note, I’ve things to do and people to invent… and I might just have to jump on Facebook for a moment to say hi to an old friend.