An ode to my oldest friend.

It’s funny when you start to dissect your past and you consider all of the things you’ve grown out of.  Yo-yos, scooters, pokemon cards, games websites, manufactured boy bands, lunch boxes, calling kids faggots as an insult, hanging out at McDonalds on a Friday night, being awkward in front of girls (that still exists) and sucking up to the cool kids for a bit of social cred.  The transition from boy to man is a slow and frustrating policy.  We don’t want to lose all of our innocence as to become a soulless corporate with no attachment to the kid we used to be but we can’t hold too tight to our youth as to be discarded as an immature, ignorant child.  The opening of the eyes, the development of cynicism that stems our growth and develops into an apathetic acceptance is a rite of passage for young men.  So to hold onto my youth I decided to write a letter to my oldest friend to illustrate that no matter how far apart we live and exist, there will always be a grand nostalgia that keeps us attached.

To my oldest friend,

Actually, to sounds so cold.  To my dearest and oldest friend,

It’s funny that I refer to you as my oldest friend.  I have known people a lot longer and yet ever since you entered my life you have been my best friend.  We are different and yet the same.  The same suburb, the same interests yet different attitudes and different life goals.  But we remain friends.  Close friends.  Best friends.  No one writes letters anymore so this is kind of romantic in a very heterosexual way.

Remember the night we entered the house of that lonely woman and James’ sister was outside in tears thinking that you and him had been molested by this outrageously harmless lady?  She had a parrot with an impressive vocabulary.  Maybe her intention was to touch us and hold us but I doubt that was the case.  Funny how we were just 11 years old in one of the safest suburb of Melbourne and it was already ingrained into our membranes that all strange people who invite us into their homes are paedophiles and molesters.  Kind of sad and yet we will bring our kids up the same way.  In fact, it will be worse when we have kids.  Don’t let people come to your door, don’t answer the home phone, don’t talk to homeless people in public and don’t trust a soul.  And we lose our way and lose our humanity until we become cold and detached and don’t even smile at those who walk past us.  Yeah, I can hear you in the back in my head telling me it’s bullshit and why would you want to talk to anyone these days?

I don’t want to think that people are all the same, driven by ego and talking over others like it’s a fucking game.  So what did you do over the weekend?  Great, do you know who I’m listening to right now and how my friend is this person who knows this person who happens to be famous?  You’re different. People are curious about you because you don’t speak much and act all grouchy when in bad company but surprise with your intellect.  You’re frank and stubborn and constantly unimpressed but you’re real and open with your thoughts to the point of being perceived as rude and standoffish.  I think you mock me when I express my flamboyance but you definitely enjoy it… a little.  But we all need someone to keep us grounded.  If we didn’t we’d be surrounded by bullies who personally rip apart those who disagree with them and don’t stop until it ruins them.

It’s funny that we have lasted and still enjoy each other’s company over a barbecue.  You are a bit of an old man already in that way.  Enjoying the process of tucking into a bit of kangaroo talking about everything that resonates Australia, opening up the possibility of travelling around New Zealand or the USA in a camper van.  We spoke about girls when we were 12 and now we speak about camper vans.  I definitely still speak about girls.  Let’s face it, we both do.  Nothing changes.  A girlfriend enters the partnership and we begin to speak about her and the new challenges it opens.  People still suggest that you influenced my lifestyle to become a man with a lust for chasing women and winning their hearts.  I was once an innocent gentleman who could barely muster the courage to ask a girl how she was travelling, now I have become what I am and you have a girlfriend.  We’ve both come full circle haven’t we?  I’m not sure anyone can influence another to change the winds of fate but perhaps you have that power my friend.

You’ve got the funny way of showing your appreciation.  Just small comments with a side note of course, to not let me get ahead of myself.  Something like ‘You’re pretty good at that stuff… you know, the poofy creative shit’.  Thanks man.  It means it lot when you put it like that.  Really what you are implying is something along the lines of ‘you really have quite a grip on your creative energy that is rather contagious.  I wouldn’t dare compare your past time to an overused stereotype relating to one’s sexuality.’  If I proposed that hypothetical I have no doubt that you would slap me over the head.

The funniest memory I have of our friendship is that perfect toss of a rock that travelled 30 metres to scone you right on the temple.  It was disgustingly perfect.  I ran home after you slowly rose as this happened during the days when I was pre-puberty and you were mid to late puberty so unfortunately I would have been chewed up by you.  I’ll never forget the text message.  ‘Just you wait until I see you next.’  I avoided you for two weeks after that to let you cool down.

And the night we first got drunk together.  That was a bonding experience if I’ve ever had one.  Pretty sure this was just after I had found my first playboy magazine and we spoke about how pristine the cover woman’s body was.  These were the days after the first drop of semen had hit the turf and we were both now in that disgusting period of crazed hormones with absolutely no outlet available with physical women.  The days when being accepted into a social group with girls was like awakening to the dazed sounds of heaven.  Heaven being a park where we drank UDLs until we worked up the courage to ask a lass to go for a ‘walk’.

This was the first transition we went through.  You entered it earlier than me.  A couple of years earlier.  I admired the fact that you had kissed a bunch of girls in Sydney before I met you and was aghast at how easy it was for you to talk to girls.  Those hearty days up at Hamilton Island when every girl there would talk to me as if I was your retarded brother.  ‘Hey, wanna meet up?’  ‘Oh… this is awkward.  Will your friend be there?’  ‘(a laugh that disguises my internal anguish) Oh yeah, sure… no, I understand, I’m going to shower in my own tears…. ah, I didn’t mean to text you that.’  Then when I finally started kissing a few girls I felt like such a man as I became more like you and less like my awkward pre-pubescent self.  I was now a squire.  And yet still so vulnerable.  You shrugged off rejection like it was a mild shower in Spring and I handled it as if Sweet Caroline herself had walked out of my life.  My emotions have always got the better of me.

As we moved through high school to university, I slowly became unashamed of my flamboyance and you yearned for European travel.  We parted for a long period of time where we spoke sporadically about our issues and I never once mentioned the fact that you cried more because you were leaving your dog rather than leaving your family and friends.  That’s how close we are.  When I visited you, you told your room mates that you would sock them if they offered me pills knowing my past and my tendency to fall into the trap of peer pressure.  When you returned, we were both in a rut, a youthful rut that seems impossible to break out of.  But fuck it, we were young.  Not as young as we once were but young enough to become what we want.

And we shared our memories of the days gone past over a beer.  You still crack the shits every time Geelong beat Hawthorn and I’m still 15 minutes late to your place every time you invite me over.  But I suppose that’s the pull of the oldest friend.  We never forget the past no matter the faults of the other.  You probably stopped reading this letter in the first paragraph but if you didn’t, I just wanted to let you know that there is nothing more special than an old friendship.

We meet new people, we walk different paths but we always have a shared past that lasts in our hearts even when the memories fade and everything changes.  I will still scoff at your outlandish xenophobia and you’ll still shake your head at my antics.  But we can still cook a mean BBQ together with far too much meat for two people as we both struggle through our day to day with my wife and seven kids and your days as a dedicated part time uncle.  That was always the hypothetical situation that we would land ourselves in.  And yet it doesn’t appear that the dynamic will be like that at all.  As we mature, things stay the same and yet our attitudes toward things change.  ‘Kids?  Never.’  Becomes ‘Girlfriend, sure.  Kids… not with her!’  Which becomes ‘I suppose I’m happy and kids are just a part of the progression.’  Maybe we will be able to afford them one day.

So, I salute you my oldest friend, for coping with my behaviour and letting me know that I will be your best man.  It’s always nice to lock in a quality position early on.  I won’t let you down.  And when we reach a certain age, you can look back upon this letter without the overwhelming sensation to laugh at how doused in bullshit and emotion it is.  I don’t think we will ever reach that stage externally… maybe just internally.

Maybe my sentimentality gets the better of me on occasion but I think the oldest friendship will always be the one we defend until the end.  And that’s why I consider it so special.

Regards,

Your oldest friend.

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