I have several “forever” friends and they are a treasure to me. You probably know what I mean. They are the ones that you did silly things with, or cried with, or just hung out with day after day, night after night. If they are the ones from when you were a kid then your parents knew them really well and they knew your family too. From them you might have gotten a clue that not everyone’s family was just like yours. And that was okay. I’m talking about the kind of friends that you can go for years without seeing and then they can drop in without much notice and you pick up the conversation as if it was just put on “pause” yesterday. It’s the kind of friendship that this prose/poem talks about.
As the years went by John, Rick, and Jonathan remained friends and were joined by Pat. They all attended James Lick High School. After high school, Jonathan joined the Army. He spent several years, finishing his military service in Germany. He declined the juicy re-enlistment offer which would have sent him to Vietnam, and returned home to make use of the GI Bill. He was attending San Jose City College and working night shift at the hospital as an orderly. He was so young when he got out of the Army that he had to wait a few months before he could buy beer. (That’s after learning to drink stiefels of beer on the base and in local towns near Giessen.) At the age of 21, as the older guy, he was very popular with his buddies. He tells stories about them waking him up to “go buy beer!”
Marriage and family calmed them down, but not much. And the friendship remained. By the time Jonathan and I got together in 1979 the “gang” was solidly established. I clearly remember the first visit to meet them all. It was in San Jose where Rick and Karen were living at the time. That’s when I met Pat’s wife, Susie, and Rick’s wife, Karen and John’s then-wife, Nancy. Everyone had kids. As families grew and jobs changed the former San Jose buddies left for greener pastures: Jonathan to Oregon, Pat to Washington, Rick to Texas, and John to Northern California. Every once in a while someone would get the idea that they should have a “reunion”. As the kids got older and the distances longer, camping together became the thing to do. Grand Canyon, Burney Falls, Mesa Verde NP, Lake Tahoe (more than once). Lots of kids, lots of fun. And then, quicker than the nod of a buffalo….no more kids. Now the kids have kids and when we get together it’s just us, a group of old friends getting together. It’s always the same: lots of talking and drinking and eating and more talking. We are by no means all of the same opinion.
On the way back from Albuquerque we stopped in Scottsdale, AZ (clean and scenic) where Pat and Susie have a home. Rick and Karen flew in from Austin, TX and John was wandering around the southwest looking for fun stuff to do. Unfortunately, his wife, Pam, couldn’t join us…She’s still working! We spent three days just re-connecting. While the guys are the main “gang” the women have become good friends too. We discuss amongst ourselves and occasionally try to get a word in edgewise with the guys. I’m not sure why.
In my last post I wrote about the Conspire Conference in Albuquerque. I noted that the conference was attended by 2300 people and live streamed by 27,000. That’s what was in my notes and when I looked at it the next day I wondered if I’d gotten carried away with my zeros. In a recent communication the Center for Action and Contemplation gave the stats: the attendees–2300, and almost 3,000 people registered for the live stream. I did get carried away with the zeroes.