IN THE TOWN where my father and my mother dwelt, dwelt also a tall, upright, intelligent, wryly notable, good body of a young man, who, with the help of a little plain good sense, and some years full employment in the business of academic success (in which he had all along trusted little to his own efforts, and a great deal to those of fate’s fickle finger -- pray, the pointing digit, not that of his bastard middle brother), -- he had acquired, in his way, no small degree of reputation among his peers in the convoluted world of high school; -- by which with the word world, need I inform you, kind reader, that I mean no more of it than a small circle described upon the circle of the great world, of four East Texas miles diameter, or there- abouts, of which the high school, where the good young man lived, is supposed to be the centre.
In addition to his scholarly pursuits, this young man (we will, henceforth, call him BF – for wont of a more respectable “pseudonym”) had been gifted, it seems, with a modicum of talent for music-making, and so with four of his peers, BF sought out a career in the industry – and, despite the localized limitations of musical success, girls did swoon at his skillful stroking of the bass, though a few others did perhaps see young BF in a different light – not as an object of adoration, but as a fellow scholar, a witty young man with promise, potential, and it should not be ignored, a fairly passable backside (“she” was but sixteen, I should remind you; and as such, her passions were often purely aesthetic -- as changeable and unpredictable as the Red River itself).
Despite my flighty passions of 'lo those many years ago (and more recent tendency to speak of myself in the third person), I am, dear reader, this same "she." To be clear, I was at that time a person of decent carriage, -- serious scholarly deportment, ---- yet a woman fond of words, a thespian, a word-smithing pugilist, if you will; oh! I was a writer. And, even at sixteen, I found, in some small degree, a kindred spirit in young BF: he was a lover of music – yes, a performer in all things -- if even, more often than not, of the more reluctant sort.
Years did pass; lives were made, and new lives were forged, as we sped from decade to decade; and though my friendly high school acquaintanceship with BF lasted no longer than t’would take the ink on our diplomas to dry, I must admit that I did not forget that young man – my young BF! -- so full of youthful promise! – what potential for future greatness! Nor he I. Yet each of us had said “fare-the-well” and moved on to adulthood in the most expected tradition of college-bound teens…
These last words, you must know, fall quite short of summarizing the complicated, transitional years that would pass before our next introduction; – to be sure, nearly two decades would come and go before I would hear what became of my ‘ole friend, BF. But then – in a single and most unexpected coincidence [though I am, admittedly, uncomfortable with the assigning of such random credit to corners unknown] BF was placed squarely back into my life – both of us immediately aware that the other was older, wiser -- older. In the interim, it was clear – without a single word passing betwixt us – that neither of our lives had run according to the old form from which such middle-class licenses, faculties, and powers-that-be usually mandated.
It was the 10th day of the month – Oh! And how I will remember that day from here after with such fondness! – while enjoying frittering away my day, on the newest virtual gadget of social-networking – Facebook, lo and behold! What message should appear but a simple “I know you”? And, my dear reader, as you no doubt realize, though his hair was shorter --- requisite mullet now a thing of his glorious past! --- and his temples colored by wisps of grey only men sport with such quiet dignity, I “knew” him too. It was BF – just a notable, and perhaps only twice as wry as he had been in his glory days, but the exact BF (in familiar confident spirit if not teenage body) nonetheless. In less than two hours, he and I had established a mutual love of writing, our definitive passion for learning, and the need we both felt to find a “reader” (indeed a “friend”) outside the hallowed halls in which we now found ourselves age’d and imprisoned: I in a world of patriarchal and passionless academia, and he in the soul-sucking world of a barrister.
What we learned was that each had taken a circuitous route to professional success, and yet neither of us had encountered that oft dream’d of font of complete creative nourishment. By week two of continual email, chatting, and Facebooking, we had laid bare our souls, shared secret and sacred writing, and each had found in the other a writerly soul-mate. An old friendship – one that had failed, two decades before, to evolve past that of a one-act-play -- suddenly found itself blossoming into a multi-dimensional opera… it seems that age and time had left us both ready for something more fulfilling – something rich and increasingly robust with creative potential.
We have each become, if only in this virtual world we have created [a modern world where photos replace afternoon meetings and a single email has more power than a dozen phone calls ever could] equal parts sounding board, sponsor, and spiritual guide for the other. The smallest snippet of dialogue continues to reveal intersections that stun us both. Music, humor, books – we found common ground in each subsequent detail we share with the other. Today we have forged a friendship based on intellectual inquiry and mutual admiration… How unique! How refreshing! To find a kindred spirit at such a point in my life...
But, you may ask, what of the future? Admittedly, ours remains a fragile bond. But, unlike those transient friendships of adulthood [which so rarely have the time to broach the difficult subjects: the stories of childhood, the angst of awkward adolescence, and the tragedies of growing older], ours is a bond that is based on an inexplicable common awareness of how far the other really has come in this complex and fucked up world. We are both eons away from that small
Mayhap it is coincidence, or, better yet -- do we look to fate or karma? No matter! ---- if any of these be the case, ---- pray, Sir, my BF, what have either you or I to do with it? Dare we question (if even in quiet appreciation!) what the gods have laid out before us? Friends, especially those possessing even an ounce of self-deprecating humor and wry intelligence, are few and far between. I cherish this one and wait -- breathless. What creative trails might we blaze together?
In the Cause!
Dr. T. Shandy