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Monday, April 9, 2012

Old Friends

In the last few weeks, I have managed to say some things and do some things and experience some things that I never thought I would bring myself to do.  I admitted that I am not capable of solving every problem on my own; I made it to church for Easter Service; I actually figured out how to re-size photos in Photoshop; and I looked into the eyes of a friend to realize that he didn't know me as well as I always thought he had.

It is a profoundly interesting experience when you try to talk to someone who has known you a long time about the changes that have gone on in your life.  Ways you have tried to grow, to evolve-- the new approach that you excitedly apply to the problems opportunities of every day living. 

I don't want to sound like a Pollyanna but it has to be acknolwegded on nearly every level that things are different.  A phone call from NYC health services (Im fine); a grand vista and its associated silence; the words of a passionate liberal minister; holding my niece; being chastised for all the things I thought know make me good at my job.  These are just a few of my favorite things-- and just a few stops along the road if my life over the last eighteen months. 

I sat down with my friend in a Bar (As is normally the case) and tried to listen to what's going on with him.  I wanted to hear about the new apartment; the girlfriend; the family; and everything else.  But the noise in the bar was incredible and I found it hard to focus. (Note: my recent lack of comfort  in all but the most quiet or lounge-like of bars is a profound symptom of the new me).  He was perceptive enough to note my distaste of where we were, so, after two beers (where I should have stopped-- another indication of just how much things have changed)  we wandered to a new place. 

With a glass of wine and some food, I listened to the parts of his story I had missed and was able to fully comprehend just what it meant when he said "Your always talking about relationships"- something what felt a great deal like a dismissal of nearly everything I had or would say about what's new in my life.  He just kind of let it go by, checked off the box marked "same old news" and took another sip of his beer.  As I just sat there-- more than a little wrecked by the fact he couldn't see the winning lottery tickets in my hand, just the same old scratch offs, a dollar winner here, a "good luck next time" there. 

It took me a minute to figure out what to say after that.  I didn't want to argue, or to demand fiercely that he acknowledge the changes-- pay homage to the man being reinvented even as he sat eating pulled pork and mac-and-cheese at a far too late hour for such heavy food.  I whimpered a bit, but the biggest part of me sighed. 

A line from a Harry Chapin song I like says something "an old friend is much better than a new friend, cause they know where you been".  I always liked that line-- fantasized about it when I thought of a home I will someday own with a fireplace.  In a comfy living room where I will sit with my old friends and reminisce about the good old days.   It never occurred to me that, for some, even some great friends-- the good old times are something more than old.  They live on.   In ignorance of Einstein and the clock on the wall, their ideas and expectations and perceptions remain in whatever page on the calender that was there. 

Lacking the desire or the interest to walk with you down the road, or maybe even push you sometimes-- they stay back in the place you met, or that bar, or that school, or wherever the old you resides.  As distant as the baby's crib to the you of today, but the  only you that they may ever know.  Kind of a living breathing memorial to where you have been, but without perception of where you are now. 

But, maybe that is a good thing.  Maybe its good to have a mirror that points backwards.  And that thought is what I settled on as I made my way back home.  With prayers of thanks that the one-night stands, and the ten beer nights, and the drama are nearly all gone.  I laughed at bit at the memories-- and the stories that will still be told.  But that life that is now only in the past-tense.  and, to be honest, I was and am thankful.  For I love the new life a lot better. 

Maybe Harry Chapin was right after all, perhaps the old friends are good for something.

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