Hello Old Friends

Sorry for the poor pic. Best I can do.

When you get to be my age you find yourself having lived a few lives.

There’s childhood. The teen years. College. Early adulthood. The parenting years and now the (mostly) empty nester years.
It flies by in an instant.
But the blur of years leaves you with perspective, a few scars and several buckets of friends from the various eras and roles we play in life.
I have friends from my years in the newspaper business, and friends from my time spent volunteering in Delray. I have friends at the office, business friends, college friends and friends from my time in Leadership Florida.
I cherish them all and feel extremely fortunate to have had good friends at every step of the journey.
I am so grateful.
This pandemic has made me even more appreciative because I miss seeing my friends and being able to make plans to get together.
I’m sure you do too.
For me, it’s one of the worst things about this miserable, exhausting and scary year.
But every two weeks at 9 pm I pour a drink and pull up a chair and tap into a cross section of friends that span my childhood, teen, college, early adult and now middle age years.
As we log onto Zoom, I see all these old, familiar faces populate my screen and for an hour or so, I’m transported to a better world. It’s a world of jokes and conversation, a world of memories and future plans, a world that’s familiar and not as uncertain.
I’m on the Zoom with guys I’ve known since I was 6 and 8. We know each other’s parents and siblings, we played Little League together, took the Long Island Rail Road to “the city” to explore and fondly remember each other’s first cars.
I knew their teenage crushes and heartbreaks, what teams they root for and which teachers they loved. We can complete each other’s sentences.
Together, we fill gaps in our collective memories but there are some sacred stories that none of us will ever forget.
Over the months we’ve been doing these calls we’ve added some guys who drifted away—never gone—because the bond is too strong —but drifted nonetheless.
As I mentioned, time flies. And our once daily connection slipped as we moved, married, had kids, went into business, changed jobs and lost our hair while also losing  the ability to see each other regularly. But we never let go of the basic friendship we shared. And now that we are comfortably in our 50s, I believe we will be friends for the rest of the ride.
Still, time is an interesting thing we grapple with.
I can still see the young men in the visages of middle age guys who populate my screen.
I can still see their youthful essence.
There’s Dave’s curiosity, Dewey’s kindness, Joe’s enthusiasm, Steve’s quick wit, Scott’s ever present grin and Brian’s ability to frame an issue.  Ben’s still a rascal and Howie has the same laugh he had as a kid. Greg is still the broad shouldered body builder he became as a teenager.
I’m proud of these guys. Every last one has been successful in their careers. They all have nice families and good lives.
We are spread out now—from California and Arizona to North Carolina, Virginia, New York, South Carolina, Wisconsin and New Jersey.
Combined we have seen a lot of the world and covered a whole lot of ground—kids, grandkids, businesses, hobbies, marriage, love, loss and adventure.
Some of the guys have been there every step of the way. Others drifted for periods, but were always there in our memories.
But thanks to the pandemic and the efforts of my friend Dave, we are all together again every other Wednesday on a screen for 90 minutes of laughs and friendship during a hard, hard time.
I’m over this miserable year. But when we get past this—and we will most certainly will—I will remember this as the year that my oldest friends came together to help each other through the storm.
I always knew I could count on these guys—for a lifetime.
I hope this inspires you to reach out to an old friend.

Comments

  1. Perfect setup for the song by Kenny Rogers & Dolly Parton… “You can’t make old friends”

    What will I do when you are gone?
    Who’s gonna tell me the truth?
    Who’s gonna finish the stories I start,
    The way you always do?
    When somebody knocks at the door,
    Someone new walks in
    I will smile and shake their hands,
    But you can’t make old friends
    You can’t make old friends
    Can’t make old friends
    It was me and you, since way back when
    But you can’t make old friends

    How will I sing when you are gone?
    ‘Cause it won’t sound the same
    Who’ll join in on those harmony parts,
    When I call your name?
    You can’t make old friends
    Can’t make old friends
    It was you and me, since way back when
    You can’t make old friends
    When Saint Peter opens the gate,
    And you come walking in
    I’ll be there just waiting for you
    ‘Cause you can’t make old friends
    ‘Cause you can’t make old friends,…

  2. Ellie Hayman says:

    Make new friends, but keep the old.. One is Silver the other Gold

  3. Brian Mellett says:

    Jeff, so eloquent! (You sounds so smart!!😁) As you said some people drifted and I am certainly one of them, but so happy to reconnect! I look back at our high school years as some of the best times of my life and the guys you mentioned are the ones that made it what it was, so thanks to all!

    I look forward to chatting again and hopefully sharing a drink together in the not so distant future.

    • Jeff Perlman says:

      Our high school years were very special.
      I’m so happy we are back in touch. I’ve thought of you often through the years.

Speak Your Mind

*

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.