Friday, January 11, 2013

Old Friends and New


I often wonder back to how things have begun. It's a difficult thing to do, finding the seeds of something that has become a part of my life. I can't recall exactly when I started running on a regular basis, when I decided to become a runner. Nor can I remember when it was or how that I first became interested in Linux. There are things that I do now or that I am interested in, and though they have become central to my life, the origins of the thing escape me.

It would be no big deal except that I'm a sucker for an origin story. Kal-El's planet exploding. Peter Parker being bitten by a radioactive spider. Genesis. The DARPA-Net. And so on. I love hearing about how things began, tracing them back to their roots, seeing how it was way back when.

Tonight we had friends over. Our girls are friends with their daughters and we are friends with the parents. For whatever reason, this friendship works (actually both of them do) and I find myself wondering how it was that the bunch of us came together. More than just that I wonder how it is that my wife and I have come to know so many wonderful people. Surely much of it has to do with our girls going to school and m wife making such a point of being involved. Because of that we have come to know the parents who are similarly involved and have lovely kids themselves. Our kids have naturally gravitated toward one another just as we have connected with the parents.

Prior to this, we have found lovely people in our neighborhood to befriend. Some are still here, most are not. I think about the people who have moved away and the tenuous grip we still have on those friendships. I would mourn the loss of them, the weakening, but the time we were together was good enough that it sustains me.

Before all of these there was my friendship with Chris, begun before either of us knew how to speak, when rolling over in a crib was more than we could muster. Strange to think that something begun by such chance could not only survive but grow and strengthen over forty-four years.

It is enough to remind me that I am surrounded by people with whom I have an intricate web of relationships. Up the street lives two kids my children are terribly close to. Their parents are my running partners and two of my wife's and my best friends. We met because our wives were at the same local park with our first-borns and happened to strike up a conversation. If not for that day, then what? Think of what would have been lost.

Yet, I have the feeling that we would have come together anyway, that we were simply bound to meet each other and become friends. I'm not talking here about fate so much as I'm thinking that certain people are going to run into one another and find that we are meant to be together. It's just that we fit so well that there is some sort of attraction that works over distance, time, and chance.

One creation story I know for sure is this one. I was checking into my dormitory for senior year at Oswego. A young woman with a mesmerizing smile and eyes that flashed like headlights in the darkest, loneliest night said hello to me. She acted as though we had known each other forever and that she was just so glad that I had come to her. I can see her face as though it were happening right now.

She just told the dog that it was time to put our girls to bed. She walked upstairs, waving her hands in front of her face (because our girls and our friends' girls have used enough nail polish and nail polish remover to asphyxiate a herd of oxen).

I know the story of how we began and, you'll think I'm crazy for saying it, but I think I know the story of how we will go on. Just as I think I know how things will go with our friends and how it will go when we meet new friends. It's a story after all and I know stories. I know the shape of them. Even when their are twists and unexpected turns, as there always are with stories, I have the feel of them and these things all feel right to me. It all feels good.

I can't wait to have our friends over again. I can't wait to see what becomes of our girls. I can't wait to see how it goes for the next fifty years between my wife and me. Except I can wait. I can wait and enjoy each day of it, each minute, each moment, each word of the story as time passes and I, of course, write on.