Here’s a story.
Back in high school my sister’s first boyfriend was in a band and in that band was a drummer named Phil. For years we’d all pal around, a mish-mashed pack of us, going to parties and coffee shops and seeing music- countless hang out sessions at my childhood home where my Mom kept the fridge stocked and the pool glistened in the backyard. Phil went off to the Air Force and I went off to college but we wrote letters and our friendship deepened. While he was in Monterey at the Defense Language Institute studying Arabic, I was neck-deep in my Women’s Studies/Lit major at UCSC. The distance between Santa Cruz and Monterey as about a 45 minute drive so sometimes we’d be able to find the time to hang out have long conversations about relationships and life and our futures. He was one of my best friends.
We’d always swap music. He’d send me tapes, many of them containing songs he’d written or had played with friends. A couple of them were about me. (Have you ever had someone write a song about you? It’s pretty dreamy. It’s up there with having a poem penned about you and having someone draw you.) The years kept passing and the letters kept traveling between our two distances. I was 25 when I hopped a plane to go visit him in Georgia where he was stationed. And during that week-long stay, we had a bit of a love affair.
It was kind of one of those situations where it existed in this bubble. It wasn’t something we talked about making work long distance. We were just two friends who had loved each other a long time and in that visit, we found a sanctuary in one another. The depth of feeling had a twinge of magic for me and still, years later, think of it and smile. Not in a way of longing, just that it was special and I’m grateful for that experience.
Pretty soon after that trip our friendship dissolved. Not out of malice or hurt or lack of feeling but he’d met a girl who didn’t approve of him being friends with me and out of respect for her wishes, he backed off. We do some crazy stuff for love, don’t we? It would be years before we would talk again. He’d get married, have 2 kids, move to Maryland, get divorced and I would date a bunch of guys, find my footing in my career, move to Seattle and meet Mr. Darcy. Thanks to Facebook we reconnected and have been able to catch each other up on our lives. But this weekend he came out to visit two of his best friends that live in Seattle of all places. And after ten years, I got to see him face-to-face and hug the shit out of him.
I got to meet two of his oldest friends from the Air Force, the ones he’d make music with and send to me on those mixed tapes. It was wild to meet them after all these years- and that one of them lives blocks from my apartment (small world!). I used to listen to their songs on repeat and I remembered most of the lyrics to a particular favorite, “Hooker With a Heart of Gold”. Friday night at a wine bar where they were playing an open mic they let me sing it with them (albeit, off key). (Click that link if you want to watch a video of said performance.)*
All this is to say, it was a great weekend full of remembering and nostalgia and catching up.
There is absolutely nothing that compares to an old friend.
*And no, “Hooker With a Heart of Gold” is not one of the songs about me.