Bookends

He’s been a  brother to me.
Ever since we became friends at the age of 8 or 9.
I’m not sure how old we were,  because it has been so long; through childhood, junior high school, bar mitzvahs, high school, first cars, college, post-college, first jobs, weddings (mine), children, grandchildren (his) we’ve been more than friends. We’ve been family.

The brother I never had moved back to South Florida this week almost 31 years to the day since he lured me here from the gray skies of upstate NY.
Yes you can blame my friend Scott for my presence here. If we get along… thank him when you see him on the Ave. If we don’t… well let me guarantee you that his intentions were good.

Florida in 1987 was a vastly different place. My first impressions were almost overwhelming: I loved the colors, which contrasted with the gray skies I had left behind. I was thrilled to see the palm trees and the sun. It felt like summer camp. We played tennis, hit the pool after work, enjoyed the bagel places, frequented the bars in Fort Lauderdale (who remembers Cadillac Jack’s?) and generally had a great time. I still remember the first time I saw the Boca-Delray area. I remember driving over the Linton Boulevard Bridge and marveling at the view and after a job interview at a local newspaper I hit the Town Center Mall which was the nicest mall I had ever seen. Yes, I thought to myself, I could live here.

Ward Melville Prom 1982..with another old friend, Greg.

I’ve written before that I’ve been blessed to have made and kept many friends from my childhood in Stony Brook, N.Y., a magical little place located on the north shore of Long Island.
I treasure these friendships because of our shared history and the comforting sense that we will be in each other’s lives for the duration.
I like the sensation of permanence in a fast changing world. But I’m keenly —and at times painfully aware —that there is no such thing as permanence.
Still, there’s  no chance of these friendship’s ending, but of course we know that nobody and no thing lasts forever. And that gives me a sense of urgency  to enjoy life, savor important relationships and pursue some bucket list items.
One of those items is to spend more quality time with my best friends. So I’m overjoyed that Scott is coming back to Florida. For one thing, it means we can fulfill a promise we made way back when.
Let me explain.

When we were little guys we listened to great music together. One of the songs, an oldie even when we were 12, was a Simon & Garfunkel hit called “Bookends.”
The song is about old friends who sit on a park bench like bookends—surprised and a little taken aback by being 70.

Scott and I have long joked about living that song. Spending time watching life go by and reminiscing on a park bench.

We even took a picture almost four years ago when we turned 50 in Central Park.  We gathered —with a few old friends –to celebrate a half century on Earth and forty plus years as pals.
I used to wonder whether we’d be able to actually live that song’s premise.

Bookends: Central Park 2014

Scott has been living in Northern Virginia for the past 16 years and  me in Delray Beach for 30 years or so. Our park benches were far away.
But not anymore.
Nope, not anymore.

That’s a really good thing.
So savor your friendships. As Paul Simon once wrote about old friends: “our memories brush the same years.”
Indeed they do. And the memories are special. We knew each other’s parents and grandparents. We know each other’s sisters. We dated best friends (twice). We laughed. We did some dumb and dangerous things (not mutually exclusive) and we lived to tell the tales.
I’m looking forward to new adventures and making more memories.
It’s a new chapter in a long story.
Here’s to new memories and old friends.

Comments

  1. Mike Sneiderman says:

    . . . as always, a wonderfully written, touchingly interesting story! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Well done old friend

  3. Frances Bourque says:

    I’d like to sit between you one day on that very lucky park bench! Friends are life’s best annuities! Thanks for being mine too!

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