Monday, February 23, 2015

Old Friend

As I sat at my computer several days ago contemplating the digital equivalent of a writer's worst enemy, the blank page, my phone rang.  Mike, my best friend for over forty years had just come out of a movie with his wife to find the battery on his car had died.  "Give me about fifteen minutes," I said, gauging the time it would take me to get coat and shoes, crank up my truck, and reach the parking lot behind the Rosendale theater.

"Keep your cell with you in case we get help before you arrive," Mike said.

I hauled my butt out to the truck and headed north the eight or ten miles to the little village on the Rondout Creek.  A way into the trip, my phone rang.  Mike's wife had found someone to help them and they were on their way home.   "Great," I said, adding, "See you Friday," reminding him of our weekly breakfast with a couple of other friends.  I took a circuitous route home, paying homage to the beautiful sunny afternoon  as the rays played on the crystalline snow.

On the way I thought about our friendship.  He knows he can call on me when he needs something and I'll be there. I know the same about him. But it's more than that.  It's the fact that I, and he, would drop whatever we were doing to go to the other's aid.  There's no resentment, no sense of being inconvenienced in the deed.  It's our history: how we saw each other through hard times, my contentious divorce, his first wife's untimely death; how we've celebrated the good times, helped each other move, shared small things and big things, know each other's families, and trust each other implicitly in spite of our political differences - Mike right of center, me left of center.

Since 1992 we have recycled a birthday card, always with a note on it.  Twenty-three years.  He will get the card late this year because I missed mailing it before we left on our vacation to South Padre Island (my bad.)  I will receive it next time we get together for breakfast.  We are running out of places to add a note, so I don't know how much longer the card can be passed, but perhaps we can make it to twenty-five before retiring it.  Maybe we'll have some world record thing when we're done.

Just thought I'd introduce you to Mike.  I hope I didn't embarrass him.