Old Friends

You can’t make old friends.
~ Ben Rector

I never had any friends later on, like the ones I had when I was twelve…Jesus, does anyone? Fade to black. Roll the credits. That was the final scene in the classic, coming-of-age film, “Stand By Me.”

Childhood friendships; there’s just something about them. It’s the kind of friend you can go years without seeing and pick up exactly where you left off. It’s rare, and I have three.

Last year, on a perfect spring day, my buddy from high school and I went to Boston and saw the Sox and Tigers play in historic Fenway Park. He traveled there from Texas. I flew in from Tennessee. Together, we walked those hallowed grounds, we bought ball caps and had burgers in an open-air restaurant directly across the street from the park. After a toast, we just looked at each other and started laughing. Fred and I have adult problems, job pressures, bills and mortgages. But for a few hours, we were kids again. We were together. We were free.

My friend John and I met when I was six-years-old. I was playing with my matchbox cars on the sidewalk. He walked up and asked if he could play. Forty-six year later, we’re still friends and those same cars are hanging on my office wall behind me as I write these words.

My friend Dave is the farthest away. He lives in Japan. But I remember exactly how it felt on the first day of fifth grade, scared, lost, and overwhelmed. I sat next to him because he looked nice. More than six thousand miles separate us today, but he’s still by my side.

Matchbox cars and baseball cards.
Bike ramps and basketballs.
Dumpster diving and Playboy magazines.
Big Gulps and video games.
Girl crushes and heartaches.

I’ve got some good friends now, but I wasn’t there to see them become who they are. I didn’t swim in their pool or raid their family’s fridge. We didn’t share pizza in my tent on the lawn or listen to the Tigers win the Series on my transistor radio. They weren’t there when growing pains really hurt.

There’s magic in the memories.

They say the windshield is bigger than the rearview mirror for a reason. But I like to glance back. My friends are there. They’re on their dirt bikes, they’re being stupid, and they still make me smile.

Call your friend if you can. If not, take a look back. Because old friends are like old stories; they’re great to revisit from time to time.

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