It all started in 1982 on the steps of Arthur Day Jr. High School in the first weeks of Grade 8.
Except that there were no steps in the back of Arthur Day, and we had to have met in the back because we both lived in that direction and I swear, I never set foot on the front. But it sounds good, and we’ve been telling the story that way for 28 years, so let’s stick with it.
This was where and when, I met my best friend Fred.
As I write this, I have to face the fact that my very young self had no concept of the gift that I had been given, and I pray in hindsight that I didn’t take it too much for granted, though I know that at times I did.
I cannot explain how every single song that made the top 40 in the entire decade of the 80’s is irreversibly burned into my brain like the world’s biggest indestructible data dvd. But that is the case. 80’s Music and useless pop trivia pours out of me whether I like it or not. My mis-wired brain, raging hormones and inadvertent obsession with music made much of my school years a bit fuzzy.
But the among the very few things I clearly remember are long walks at night where I somehow knew, deep down, that I could pour out my infant soul to this boy and no matter what, he would always love me.
I do remember, that as we moved onto high school, there were suddenly enough of us “Nerds” hanging together that most of school really was a lot of fun despite having to go to classes.
We had Friday night get togethers in Tracey ‘s basement where some of us played pool, and some of us sat on the floor behind the bar and read Shakespeare out loud while listening to Wham, and we all enjoyed every minute. Did I mention that we were Nerds?
Or as Fred has said to me in our adult lives on more than one occasion, “You do realize that we were not normal, right?”
We were not your average teenagers, but we were, despite our insecurities, our conviction of inferiority, as much as we knew how to be, ourselves.
Looking back, it’s clear that our parents had nothing to worry about. What parent lies awake at night worrying that their kid is reading too much Shakespeare?
We dated briefly when we were 19 but it just didn’t work for some reason, (insert tiny smile) and we lost touch for a bit, but the Universe had a plan and we met again, rekindled our friendship, and fell in love.
We planned our lives together. We revelled in the wonderful story of how we were born in the same hospital 12 days apart and I, a preemie with a still-born twin spent my last few days in an incubator in the same nursery with his twin brother. How we understood each other so well having had immigrant parents and learned more than all of our peers about the realities of WWWII from both sides…
And then, he came out.
And I drank my first bottle of wine, fell face first on the bathroom floor with the top of my head against the door. My brother, (who was “not normal” in the polar opposite direction,) found me. He tried to get into the bathroom, and when he realized that the door was mysteriously stuck he proceeded to slam it into my head until my (thankfully tiny) body moved enough so that he could see what was causing all of the trouble.
His response was to wake my parents in the next room with no attempt whatsoever to conceal his laughter.
“Mum, Dad, YOU HAVE GOT TO SEE THIS!
Fred gave me the experience of my first love, my first heartbreak, my first time being drunk, my first time passing out due to being drunk, (except for the part where I actually never lost consciousness)my first time being violently ill due to being drunk and my first hang-over. Also, my first, and last day missing work due to all of the above.
There are no words to describe how much I love this man.
It took a few years for both of us to heal, and not knowing that we were healed, we nervously scheduled a meeting. I recall that within a few minutes, our nervousness had abated, and because destiny had once again taken control, we picked our story up at the place where we were best friends who would love each other forever.
Adulthood along with death of close friends, ailing parents, jobs and responsibility hadn’t done a thing to alter what we had during our young years. Maturity only helped us to appreciate the gift.
It might be hard to comprehend how grateful I am for our entire story, exactly as it happened. And although I have spent much of my past life wishing for a better past, there is absolutely nothing about my life with Fred that I would ever have wanted to change. Long before I embarked on the path of accepting what is, I knew that things had always worked out for the best as far as our relationship was concerned.
The years have gone by. Work, life, his moving with his wonderful husband to Mexico , and then Vancouver , long months without contact and miles between us can’t do a thing to diminish what we have. Change, simply evolves the relationship while at it’s core it remains the same impenetrable bond.
For most of our adult years, Fred has told me repetitively that he thinks I should write. I ignored him for years, but now I realize that he knew some things that I didn’t.
Last week, we were discussing this and Fred asked me if I understood why he has always thought that I should be writing even though he had never read anything that I had written.
I had no brilliant answer, so I had to let him talk for once. J
“I’ve always thought that writers are a pot of boiling opinions, perspectives and ideas that they just have to get out or they are going to die! And that’s you!”
And once again, I find myself marvelling at how well this man knows me when I’m not even sure myself. I marvel at the fact that he has always known me and still, he chooses to stick around.
I’ve spent so much of my life looking for, longing for, and dreaming of love as so many of us do. And yet, I think that I have been so busy looking that I’ve nearly missed what has always been right under my nose. I’m amazed that I had to actually understand how to love myself to be able to appreciate the fact that I have already had so much love around me.
I suppose that might be true for anyone.
Happy Birthday Fred