Monday, July 21, 2014

Rant #1,251: Old Friends

You might remember that nearly a year ago, in October 2013, I had the 50th reunion of my old neighborhood of Rochdale Village, South Jamaica, Queens, New York. I helped organize the bash, and it was quite successful.

Yesterday, I had a reunion that was much smaller, and revolved around a different time of my life, my dreaded high school years.

Coming in from California was my old high school buddy, Paul, who I last saw about six years ago.

He called me out of the blue on Saturday, said he was in town, and would like to meet with me. We set up a time on Sunday, and he was there right on time.

He had a chance to meet my wife, and he spent about three hours with us, talking about his current life, looking back on the old days, and generally, we caught each other up on our current situations.

It was nice, even though my high school years are the dreaded years of my life.

I had just moved to Long Island right before school started in the summer of 1971. I was new to the area, and coming from the neighborhood I came from, I was in for the shock of my life.

It was more culture shock, going from a wild environment that was my old neighborhood back then to the uncharted, at least for me, Long Island.

The four years of high school were not fun. I pretty much fell off the earth, didn't really have any friends, at least initially, and I felt sorry for myself.

This greatly impacted my education, and for the very first time in my life, I wasn't into education, wasn't into learning, wasn't into much of anything--except my hobbies.

Without those hobbies, I probably would have fallen way down and not been able to pick myself up. But at least I had things to do in my spare time, not waste them like so many kids did during those years with drinking and drugs.

Anyway, around 11th grade, I became good friends with Paul and his brother, fraternal twins as different as night and day. One was skinny, the other a bit stocky, but we were all pretty much outcasts, so somehow, we gravitated toward each other, and we leaned on each other during those years.

We would go to the movies just about every week--sure, we would rather have gone out with girls, but at that point in our lives, we looked, but didn't know what to do with them, way too shy to actually date anyone--we played ball, we just basically hung out with each other.

As high school ended, we basically went our separate ways, and his family moved to California, and that was pretty much the end of that for several years.

Then, every couple of years, the boys would come back to Long Island to visit, and this is about the third or fourth time I have seen at least one of them over the intervening number of years.

We have all had good times, all had bad times during those years, but we are all still here.

Paul is a smart guy, a former Navy member who later joined the Merchant Marines, and both he and his brother are out on disability. Although his brother did not make the trip this time. Paul is still a vibrant guy. He has always been a square peg trying to fit into a round hole, and although he might not ever find that round hole, it is not for lack of trying.

He is a good guy, we had a couple of laughs yesterday, and then he left.

I am glad that he came over, and I am sure when he visits Long Island again in several years, we will have him over again.

Although those years were very difficult for me--I remember so little from those years, because quite frankly, what should have been the best years of my life were very painful for me--but he was part of the good times, so at least I can say that those years weren't all bad.

And again, it is nice to visit with friends. All you need is one good friend, and you are really set.

And he and his brother were good friends, so I doubled with two good friends, so I guess I was "set" during those years, to a certain extent.

Nice seeing you again Paul.

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