Sunday, May 9, 2010

That's What Friends Are For: An Essay on Friendship

Medicine Hat was my last stop en route home from a summer of busking in the West. I decided that a sward beside a mall on the east side of the city was the perfect place to break, have a bite, and make a phone call. Sitting on a curb and sipping a vanilla shake I left my friend, Brent a message:
Hey Brent, this is Neil. I'm just passing through town. Give me a call at your convenience, okay.

Waiting for his call I reminisced. Brent and I had been sidekicks seemingly forever in our adolescence. We were the Stand By Me buddies who walked many a train track together, and when old enough, we drove to dances and flirted with the girls in the neighbouring towns. Brent and I had shared many exciting and arousal developmental moments, and to this day whenever I think of Brent I chuckle to myself.

Friendships asunder, since my youth many people have enhanced my sturm und drang existence.

There was Jennifer, the archetype of friendship. We taught together in the same high school that had an eighty minute lunch break, and rather than eat, we ran. Jennifer was the ideal running mate. She was gorgeous, bright, generous, thoughtful, and a treat to be near. She would even bake cakes on my birthday! When Jennifer is not travelling the world she is residing in Vancouver.

There was Jim. He and I were work-out buddies. Three or four times a week for twenty years we headed for the university weight room. Jim was a technical virtuoso on Olympic equipment, a perfectionist when it came to form. Following each lifting session we'd head over to the Stones Throw for a decaf and chat. Man, do I miss that. Jim is a ski fanatic and spends his days at Silver Star.

My friend, Burt was a marathon runner. He had completed the Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Honolulu marathons on more than a few occasions. For over a quarter of a century Burt and I pounded a variety of running paths, along with the politics of municipal, provincial, federal, and foreign governments. Now Burt is recuperating with his new titanium hip, and our chats are taking place at Tims rather than on the trails.

For years my friend, Gary, and I would meet each week to discuss the technical and tactical strategies for winning at soccer. We still palaver on everything under the sun -- except soccer.

My friend, Eric, still shows me how to party; my friend, Mike, models an extraordinary work ethic; my friend, Ken, keeps me academically inclined.

Of course I could mention lots of other friends from my chronicled parade of personal and professional assemblages: cohorts from my university daze, crew mates from my pipeline years, fellow band members of the Grand Trunk Troubadours.

Reflecting on these people causes me to become a bit chopfallen, especially when there are so many to whom I could give tribute. All of us, during our everyday pedestrian lives meet a legion of characters, most of whom certainly worthy of our friendship. Should ever we be soliciting for social associates, there is an expansive opportunity to corral a multitudinous number of eclectic acquaintances (though in a pragmatic way, any attempt to do so would severely complify our lives, due to the already designated time constraints of our individual schedules).

During this discourse I have unwittingly bracketed my friendships according to my selfish amusements, each one being congruent to a particular enterprise. Perhaps this is happenchance, perhaps not. These mentioned friends have certainly been necessary adhesives to suit my recreational well being. It is quite probable then that I, too, have been merely serving as a pastime attachment for others.

If, in fact, this is the case, so what -- that's what friends are for (I guess).

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