In the past few week I have been blessed to have reconnected with some old chums from my growing up days. Just like so many of us, I had lost touch with most of my friends from these times of (pretty) long ago. At my age we’re talking decades, not years! For many of us, the formative years were not always pretty, and mine were probably as messy as most. I came of age during the late 60’s and early 70’s. Anyone who grew up then knows how different our society was, not to mention the fact that we were still pre-… well, almost everything technological that we all take for granted today! But the interesting thing is, just like kids today, we all still had to find our way in the world and, for better or worse, after we became more independent of our parent’s authority, our friends not only helped us in this process, but by our selection of friends we began to define who we were and what kind of path we would travel to adulthood. Our two oldest grand children are just now forming these relationships that will help them in this process. We can guide them and help them make good decisions about friends, but the truth is, they are now on the same ‘trial and error’ mission to find quality friends that we all were on. I must say that sometimes we won’t know who those ‘quality’ friends are until much, much later in life. At least this has been true for me.
I reconnected with two old friends via e-mail. One was my best friend for a year in 6th grade who remained a friend throughout high school. We were both Beatlemaniacs and carried on like John and Paul while listening to Meet the Beatles! and The Beatle’s Second Album. He’s now an artist who lives in Zurich, Switzerland. He found me through “Classmates.com” where we have posted little bios about ourselves in the hopes old classmates will see them. This website has been invaluable to me since many of my important friendships were formed before or during high school. My artist friend agreed that his posting on this website was already worth it by finding me, his old ‘Beatle Buddy’.
The other was someone with whom I had been friends from high school through college. He revealed that I had been his ‘role model’ when we were college roommates. (Trust me when I say I never saw myself as anyone’s role model in college!) But when he explained how he came to see me this way it was very flattering, because the truth of the matter is I looked up to him, too. (He was an excellent actor, and had/has a heart of gold). He is now a well respected high school English teacher of over 25 years, and he said he’s used the story of how I would ‘kick his butt to class’ as an example for his own students who obviously never thought their hero and mentor ever needed such ‘motivation’! I can’t think of a better feeling than to know that my example has been used, “Play it Forward” style, to help a youngster in need of some direction.
The third connection was via a phone call. About 35 years ago I shared an apartment for a few bachelor years with a good friend I grew up with who was (and is) an accomplished musician. He played the keyboards in a rock band then, but was also just as comfortable playing Bach or Khachaturian on the piano. After he married, we drifted apart and rarely saw each other. Well, just the other night the phone rang and it was him! I almost fell over when my wife told me who was on the phone, and even more surprised to hear he and his wife will be in Black Mountain, near Asheville for business in a couple of months and will have time to spend an evening with us here at The Windover Inn! He interrupted our chat several times to say, “It’s really good to hear your voice.” I felt the same way. It turns out we have both been able to follow our dreams and we could detect that contentment in each other’s voices. I told him that’s a pretty good legacy for both of us. No regrets. Can’t wait to reconnect with my old friend in person.