Thirty-One Years of Friendship
We met on the first day of kindergarten. Somewhere my parents probably have the paperwork to confirm the exact date, but for now it should suffice that it was early September 1974. We were standing in front of the school when G’s mom introduced us to each other and to a couple of other kids, Robert and Damon if you must know.
G and I started playing together shortly thereafter both in school and outside. He and I both remember seeing our first bloody nose. Two of the kids got into a scuffle and when Robert punched the other little boy in the nose it bled for what seemed like forever.
As kindergarteners we worked on all sorts of projects together. I remember standing next to him as we hammered and sawed with real saws and hammers. G noticed that instead of sawing a piece of wood I had begun to cut my pinky. I still have the scar and for those of you who are wondering it didn’t hurt me, don’t know why, just that it did not and as a result I didn’t notice. As G will attest my attention to detail is sometimes sketchy but at the same time I can be incredibly focused on other things which is probably why I didn’t notice the pain.
G and I went to school together from 1974 through 1980. There was a brief separation from the fall of 1980 until the fall of 1984 when his parents sent him to a private junior high school. But even during that time we still spent a ton of hours together. We lived a block away from each other and it was uncommon for us not to spend the after school hours together, not to mention endless summer afternoons.
We rode our bikes everywhere, watched the Twilight Zone together and marveled over Kung Fu theater. We went to battle together as we fought some of the neighborhood bullies. There are stories from the week we spent as campers at Griffith Park Boys camp. I watched as the counselors helped him lace up a pair of boxing gloves and then stuck him in a ring where he fought Rashid.
G is a quiet and introspective. I suspect that they thought that Rashid was going to make G look silly, but they misunderstood and misjudged him. G and I had spent endless hours wrestling and I could verify that he was determined and stubborn. I knew that Rashid was going to go down in a heap and sure enough G set him on his ass more than once.
We were eleven years old and we knew that together we could not only take a grown man down but we would make him cry. All you had to do was ask us. We were partners, an unstoppable team.
It was a great friendship and an interesting one, the Jewish kid and the Baptist. I went to his church activities on numerous occasions, mostly because during the summers it cost 50 cents to take their bus to Zuma beach. Even though it was an evangelical church there was never an effort by anyone there or in his family to convert me. We have laughed about it because besides myself his other closest friend in the world is Jewish.
If anything it is more likely that he’d change teams to come play for our side. For that matter I have laughed on many occasions at the surprise people showed when they found out that he was not Jewish, but that is not what this post is about.
In high school we were on the swim team together. I don’t have to close my eyes to see him running alongside the pool during my races shouting instructions at me and if you ask I am sure that he remembers my colorful responses to his shouts.
For three years we ate lunch together almost daily, the few exceptions were generally due to Jewish holidays when I was in shul or the odd day or two when one of us were sick.
If you ever meet G ask him about the big fight I had with Victor Lopez. The truth is that Victor scared me but with G standing there I had no fear. He is the rock I really have always depended upon. The truth is that if G is next to me or close by there is no person I would be afraid to take on, he always is there if I need him.
We even went to the same university. The truth is that for almost my entire school education G was a part of it in one way or another.
For thirty-one years he has always been there. Ask him about how many times I knocked on his window in the middle of the night and made him get out of bed to go do something. He was my best man and I was his.
As you have probably gathered I have been privileged with the best kind of friend, a brother-in-arms who cannot be thanked enough for all that he has given me. There are so many stories, so very many that I could write about and perhaps I’ll share more of those at a later date, but right now I can’t because my heart is heavy.
G is leaving town. He is moving across country and the truth is that it is killing me. There is a quiet strength about G that just sums him up so well and in some ways it sums us up. There really are not words that we can use to share our experience. He is leaving for a bunch of reasons not the least of which is that he got screwed in a divorce in a big way so it is time for him to spread his wings a little and see some new things.
I am upset because my anchor is setting sail. One of the things that I have been blessed with is some incredible friends and friendships that are so special and so important to my life that I sit here fumbling for words.
He is not leaving forever and it is not like we will not see each other again. Our parents still live in the houses we grew up in and when we visit the old neighborhood we sometimes run into each other.
Our lives are so very busy now that we do not get to see each other too often and sometimes we speak less frequently than we might like, but there was something reassuring about having him around and I know that one of the many reasons I am going to miss him is watching him with my children.
But the bottom line is that I want him to be happy and even if I had real influence over the decision to leave I would not prevent him from going because I think that this is a necessary part of his life and personal growth.
G you know that I love you and that I am a plane ride away. You give the call and I am there. Like we always said we are the calvary and I will answer the call. You be safe and you do what you do to move on.
I’ll see you on Sunday and we’ll hang out a bit but I will not say goodbye because you know that I just can’t do that.