The sun sets, the sun rises and things remain the same. Talking to my wife I often compare my childhood to the “Wonder Years”. We had block parties and took vacations together and everything always stayed the same. Divorce was something we never knew the meaning of and siblings were aplenty. The only amusement in it now is that we took it for granted.
From Kindergarten to 6th grade there were 5 of us that were inseparable and devoted to each other as much as friends in grammar school could be. We enjoyed each other’s company and knew each other’s idiosyncrasies and took them for what they were. We played every Nintendo game and every sport together. We knew what and when each other was going to do.
It was before area codes… 852-1432, 852-0045, 852-8066, 852-3687 and 852-0271 were our numbers. We played every game under the sun together. We laughed, we fought, we laughed and we fought again. We had sleepovers and birthday parties and knew each other down to the last detail.
Life marches on and you grow apart or at least you think you do. But, the thing is, there is always a part of each other that you never even realize. How you talk, how you eat, how you laugh, your sense of humor is in those phone numbers. It’s part of your ethics, part of your DNA. Those people are who you are, what you are. You don’t feel the weight but you are always carrying them with you.
Even when you saw them now it’s like they never left, they know your parents they know your siblings. It’s like the last decade didn’t matter but it did. Grammar school is a piece of you that you can never change.
I am not young but I am not old either and my first grammar school friend died yesterday. I will carry on using phrases we laughed about endlessly during sleepovers in his basement; I will drive through Eastham and always think about walking down dirt roads and swimming in the bay. The pizza barn, boogie boards and Coastguard Beach are part of me. I’ll remember the stupid pranks we played on neighbors, the fences we knocked over and the games that never ended. I’ll remember feeling like his relatives were mine and vice versa.
Life marches on, it doesn’t stop, it doesn’t slow down. No matter how much you try it halts for nothing. Sometimes you wish it would speed up but in the end you always wish you could turn back time. “These are the good old days” is something I always like to say now because as it goes on you realize that the now is a wonderful thing. You go months without seeing some of the people you value the most but feel like you are still close to them because you shoot a few texts between one another from time to time now. Go see them, sit with them and talk to them. Don’t let technology take the place of actual human interaction.
I have a son now, born six months ago, and I pray that he can have what I had growing up but how the world is now I fear that he never will. How often do you see a group of kids on bikes cruising around the neighborhood? How often do you see a touch football game halted by traffic on a road? I don’t know if it’s gone for sure but I want him to have exactly what I had. I want his clock to be driven by when the streetlights come on and I want the friendships he forms in kindergarten to be part of him for his whole life.
In the end, remember those numbers because they are part of you, they made you what you are now. Think back to yourself as you read this and you know exactly what I am talking about. Remember your friends, your foundation. Call them. Do not be scared to laugh aloud thinking about them.
A week ago, I saw my first grammar school friend who has since passed away. We swapped stories and both left the bar smiling. That’s how I will always remember him.
So long old friend..