Soundtrack, “Fountain Of Sorrow” by Jackson Browne
I can still remember the day I met you some forty years ago…..although it doesn’t seem that long ago? I was walking in the quad area when I noticed this kid sitting on the lawn with his legs lazily stretched out. You were leaning back with your elbows keeping you propped up. You sat right there by the senior walk appearing not to give a shit about convention or conformity. I liked that right off the bat. Somehow I knew we were destine to be the best of friends.
You were wearing one of those T shirts with a single breast pocket. There was brown clay from ceramic’s class clinging to your well worn Levi’s. Later, your pants of choice would be a pair of tan Dickies. On your feet were a pair of white slip on tennis shoes. Your long brownish hair was pulled back into a scruffy ponytail and you sported a formative mustache—-not bad for a fifteen your old kid. You lounged calmly as the bells were ringing and kids hurriedly came and went——-you were you, just being you, no excuses or regrets. I was attracted to your nonchalant coolness. I told myself “I got to meet this dude”.
So, I walked up to you and mumbled “Hi”. You tilted your head back while squinting up into the autumn sun and replied “Hi”.
I don’t know how we went from a simple “Hi” to being best friends, but I believe somethings are meant to be—–and uncoincidentally I made your acquaintance just when I desperately needed a best friend. I remember going to your house in Terra Buena and you had a bunch of strange houseplants. You pointed out the different plants and told me their botanical names. I thought “Damn, this guy is pretty smart”. The only plant I could ID was weed. Your mom and dad were nice to me and always took the time to ask about my life and plans. I would mutterer something to them about wanting to start a rock band, or maybe the following week I was going to be a pro kickboxer. They made me feel comfortable, even though I was just a dumb teenage kid stumbling from one day to the next. In spite of my carrousel of aspirations they remained interested and encouraging.
I detected that at some level we were both undeterred outcasts chasing something neither one of us could articulate. It was hard to be that young, yet so lonely and scattered. We were both looking for our place in this big world. It was comforting to have someone like you to confide in and share my thoughts. I remember it all so well. I can’t go back in time and thank people who helped me in past, but I can send this simple letter of gratitude.
After all these years, I’m glad that we remain best of friends, although I’m still a bit scattered and lonely.