Met up with a friend yesterday that I haven’t seen or chatted with in twenty years. It’s enough to make a person feel old. We met in kindergarten when I bopped him in the nose in a fit of opportunity, and didn’t drift apart until high school despite family events and moving across the province. It’s not shocking that a lot of things have changed for both of us, but it’s funny the things that stayed the same.
The kid who lives in my memories loved driving, tinkering, and competition and all three interests came together in watching his dad fix up cars and drive derby. He had a natural sense of empathy, and a sense of love and dedication to his family that went beyond his years. I remember the rad extroverted kid who’d take me on his adventures, and who came to visit for a rest from a crowded house. Neither of us had a lot, but what we had we shared. It helped that our moms were best friends too. It didn’t shock me that as a man he spends his days driving, his nights being a great dad and devoted husband, and his off days fixing cars and driving derby like his father.
Tiny me struggled a lot with empathy and his introversion. I lived mostly in my head, and still do, but I’m happier with it. I remember lots of times of desperately trying to communicate my latest fit of imagination, always one of those things that definitely makes sense to you, but only to you. I remember wandering around my grandma’s trailer talking about all manner of things, happy to have a patient listener, and the sort of weird delight I took (and still take) in telling people I met my oldest friend when I punched him in kindergarten, after which he thrashed me soundly. I grew up, went to school, and imagine things for a living now, whether that’s writing songs, writing articles, or fixing tech problems.
I remember us bonding over Ninja Turtles, video games, and Hulkamania. The important things. I remember Saturday morning cartoons, chicken nuggets, and being an early riser while he liked to sleep late. Walking down to the Games Exchange with a couple of dollars to rent our next conquest, and having to figure it out on our own because all of that life was pre-internet.
I remember there being a lot of doubt, some of it well-earned, about whether we’d turn out okay. Yesterday, as I sat with him and his family and watched him crack dad jokes over dinner, I got a chance to look him in the eye and remember a lot of things. We’ve had some pretty rough patches, but here we are.
We made it.