It was a hot July day and the air conditioner on the bus was barely keeping up with the heat. My cousins had invited me to stay with them in New Jersey until school started to help take care of their son. It was a long way from South Carolina, and if I were, to be honest, I was young and a little afraid. The trip was lengthy and the steady roar of the wheels on the road was putting me to sleep. My cousins promised me they would take me to the World’s Fair in New York City while I was there. I had seen images of New York, and it seemed beyond anything I had ever experienced or dreamed of seeing.
The drive to the fair in New York with my cousins was exciting and breathtaking as the tall buildings graced the skyline. When we drove into the parking lot, I was in awe of the number of people walking to the admissions gate. We finally got on a shuttle and headed for the pavilions. I sat beside another boy my age who was listening to a small transistor radio with a cool leather case, and since I had a Beatles haircut, he asked me if I liked music. Well, that was the icebreaker as we talked about the Beatles, The Birds, and that Simon and Garfunkel’s first album had just been released.
We spent the day going to the pavilions from countries around the world and sharing the wonder of something beyond anything we ever imagined. After a while, we got tired and sat around talking music and became friends. We traded addresses and promised to stay in touch. As the years passed, we got caught up in marriage, children, and careers and lost touch. Many years later, we both became writers and connected again. Eventually, I agreed to fly up to New York to meet face-to-face again. I was excited about seeing my old friend.
It was a cold and windy November day in Central Park as I waited for him. I thought back to the amazing day we spent together at the World’s Fair and all the things we saw about how the future would look but most of all I remembered his passion for music, a passion that we both shared. In the distance, I saw a slightly older version of my friend walking toward me with a big smile on his face and earbuds in his ears, and I knew he was listening to music. As he drew near, he pulled out a small transistor radio in a leather case from his coat pocket and smiled this big heartfelt smile.
Part Two by Joel Elveson
We sat there on cracking wooden benches as the biting wind blew life all around us. As absurd as it sounds the more we sat there laughed and talked it seemed as if nothing had ever changed in either of our lives from the last time we shook hands, said goodbye and then turned around to walk away from each other to directions neither of us knew where that would be. Although we were engulfed in our sadness and sorrow in our souls we knew it had to be this way.
Now the kids are all grown living their lives on their own. So here we are so many tears that have gone by. We sat there laughing and talking while occasionally humming lyrics to those old Beatles tunes. A few memories of the mischief we had gotten into when we young lads sneak their way into our heads at the exact same moment. The thing about us is that we always knew what the other was thinking or going to say long before anything poured out from our lips. Suddenly, we turned to face each other with these big cat eyes that ate the canary looks on our face as we had this great idea to pull one of our famous pranks. With that, we snuck into the room where the sprinkler controls were without hesitation put them on full force. We laughed so hard that we cried until we realized we had to run through the sprinklers to get back to benches. Yeah, we got pretty soaked with more than a few sniffles to show for it.
As our hearts stopped banging inside of our chests looking for a way to escape we got down to the business of reflecting. We spoke of career highlights, family fights, love without condition with those we thought we loved and loved us. The one question that kept nagging at both of us was why we hadn’t been in touch more often with each other as there was nothing to stop either of us from dialing to reconnect. Two old friends who were closer than brothers drifted away from each other into seemingly different continents only now in their golden twilight reunite.
Friends build foundations to solidify the seemingly unbreakable bonds they make. With the passing of time cracks begin to appear. Things suddenly just didn’t seem the same. We stand within an eyelash of each other but there is nothing to say. They put their mouths in motions but the silence stubbornly remains. Hands that gripped tighter than metal in a vice now tremble and shake barely willing to extend a touch. This not by chance rendezvous was supposed to be so much more than what it was. There will always be a part of them in each other. Goodbye, my old friend. Fare thee well.
Point Of View
Friends will always influence how you see life. They add value to who you are, loving and believing in you. Without friends, part of who we are is missing. While this story is a collage of memories and fiction it truly is about friends and the lasting impact they have on our lives. Joel and I both ask that when you read this you will reach out to a friend and remind yourself how important friends are.