I spent yesterday with old friends.
It used to be that I would follow the use of “old friends” with the disclaimer that they were “not really old!” This no longer feels necessary. If they are old friends of mine, I now have to say, objectively, they are pretty old.
The “occasion” (if you want to call it that) was finally driving my oldest friend, Andrew, to his colonoscopy – which certainly sounds like an old person’s activity.
I had been badgering him for months. After he finally capitulated, it took him months to get an appointment. Then he asked if I would drive him, and I could hardly say “no” after all of that. Of course, I wouldn’t have said “no” under any circumstances. Andrew is my oldest friend, after all.
Since I would have to wait for him, I contacted another old friend, Clay, who I hadn’t seen in ages, for a pizza and a chat.
Clay is very funny, and he came up with a number of catchy names for a get-together organized around Andrew’s colonoscopy – none of which would be polite to repeat in a family newspaper, so I will let you imagine. We met at a nearby pizza place at a time when no one else was remotely interested in eating. It was far too late for lunch and much too early for dinner. I discovered that the time it takes to have a colonoscopy and recover from it is just about ideal for two old friends to reconnect and share a pizza. I highly recommend it.
Clay told me about his father, who is not doing well, and I told him about my parents, who are. It seemed surprisingly effortless, talking to this person who I really have not been in touch with for more than half my life. The years between our adolescence and yesterday afternoon seemed to melt away, leaving me with this curious feeling of stepping back in time.
Clay is in touch with people I haven’t seen since high school, and it was fun to hear about them. He has always had a good memory and a sharp eye for detail. Some of our mutual friends, he told me, seemed exactly the same. Only their hair color appeared to have significantly changed. Other friends had aged more noticeably. Clay described seeing someone he’d not seen in years.
“It was like I could see the person I knew, looking out from this old person’s face,” he told me. I knew what he meant, and I wondered where I fell on the spectrum. (I didn’t ask.)
My memory is not anywhere near as good as Clay’s and that’s probably because I don’t spend a lot of time reminiscing. But visiting with Clay was a good reminder of how quickly the years are swallowed up, how much time has passed. New friends only know the person I am today. Old friends know all the previous versions of me, and sometimes that is a comfort. At other times, it’s a little scary. Sometimes I like to think that I have always been exactly as I am – right down to my hair color.
Andrew’s colonoscopy turned out well, although he has to go back in three years. I know he will forget, and it will be my responsibility to both remind him and get him there again.
“We’ll have to get together again soon,” I told Clay. “Even before Andrew’s next colonoscopy!”
Clay agreed, and I know we will. But it’s nice to think we’ll have that to look forward to.
Till next time,