Being an adopted person, I am always interested in those reunion stories where after many years of wondering and puzzling over the issues of adoption there is a coming together and I have had one myself. I know both my maternal and paternal origins. I have actually written a book, well a manuscript, about the journey and hope someday to go back through it enough editorially to get someone interested in it. Anyway, I just saw a story about how Facebook caused the reunion of a family after they had gone through various ways to try to find one another. Facebook has created some reunions for me as well and strangely enough I have been reunited with not one, not two, not three, but four of my boyhood friends named MIKE. The reunion with one particular Mike is the focus of this blog, but more than that, it is about going back in time and remembering those building blocks and people that contributed unknowingly to what one would eventually become. The point of my blog is to encourage you to think about reconnecting with someone that you are not sure how you disconnected with in the first place. Sometimes friends are for a moment in our lives and sometimes they are for the duration. Sometimes they are both.
I have always been accused of being the nostalgic one in my family. I'm not ashamed of it. I use it to write, so there... it is handy. This blog is a bit nostalgic.
Do you have someone in the past who periodically comes up because of a memory, a dream, a scent of simply just pops into your mind now and again and you wonder what they may be doing, why you lost touch or why at 3:00 A.M. are you thinking of something so long ago, so seemingly irrelevant to today's business? (Or do you simply wonder if I might have made that last sentence just a bit longer?) Just such a person over time popped in and out of my consciousness for no apparent reason. (I cannot believe I spelled consciousness right the first try!) A person who owns "real estate" in the deep inner reaches of my brain.
When I was a boy I developed a wonderful relationship with another kid in my sixth grade class. My most vivid memory of my early school days was on the very last day of sixth grade when Mike and I walked from our school to his house. It was a very hot day and Mike and I couldn't have been more excited to be out of school! We stopped at this wide ditch near Mike's house to wade and cool off in the shade of a giant cottonwood tree as the chocolate milk colored water flowed through our sleepy little college town. I remember pulling my shoes and socks off and hurling them down into the water as a way of saying, SUMMER is here! Let it begin! The time of being a little kid is over! It was my personal right of passage from school to summer, but more importantly it was a letting go of childhood and from elementary school to enter the big world of Junior High, the BIG TIME! I also remember wading in that ditch later when mom came to pick me up and demanded that I fetch my shoes from the deep. I just don't remember if I ever found them... Some things you just block out.
One of the things I liked and remember most about Mike is that when I got him laughing, which I did a lot, he smiled with his entire face. His eyes turned up as much as his mouth when he smiled and laughed. I've always enjoyed seeing someone's entire face get involved when I am being Mr. Funnyguy! Mike and I rode the ski bus together every weekend and cruised the slopes until the very last possible run every time and then we would tuck and cruise all the way past the lodge and down into the parking lot where inevitably we were the last to load our skiis under the bus and head for home.
When the weather was good we rode our bikes everywhere. We were "best friends", we had each other's backs. We were two mismatched peas in a pod and mostly we both had really cool long hippie hair that flowed behind us as we tooled with summer abandon through the town and country. We spent almost every day together that summer, meeting at one another's house to go on another fun adventure and share another carefree hot summer day.
I remember thinking Mike was one of the coolest dudes I had ever met. Mike was a gentle giant of a kid. He was easily my size and then again half. He had a sweet and gentle nature, yet he was tough, played football and wrestled with the best of them. He was my favorite bike and ski buddy and the dude could carry on a good conversation and challenge me in some of the grossest eating contests. I remember once he came to my house and we endeavored to try EVERYTHING in the kitchen. We did fine until we hit mom's spice rack and the dog food bag.
We had many sleepovers and mom let us stay up late into the night watching Creature Features then we'd sleep out in my backyard tent and gaze up at the stars and talk about aliens, girls (sometimes those conversations seemed identical back they) and wondered where life would take us. I thought then that Mike and I would be best friends for life. I simply couldn't imagine a better friend anywhere or anyone! At the heart of it, I always respected and liked Mike a lot. I always cherished that summer we had after sixth grade when Mike and Eddie and I would move like a herd from one to another's house and got into a little mischief together. Mostly it was my first band of brothers outside of my small country neighborhood and they meant the world to me.
Then we went to different Junior Highs and by the time we ended up in the same High School we were sadly kind of strangers. I would see Mike in the hall and we always nodded and acknowledged the bond we once had, but peers, circumstances and changing interests took us in different directions.
In my series (Go Ask Mom) Gabe, my protagonist has a very best friend named Andy. I have been asked if I ever had such a friend. Andy is a very cool kid. Andy in many ways embodies the Mike I knew when I was Gabe's age. So there you have it. Authors take what they know and knew and sometimes unknowingly import that into people and places that inhabit the world of fiction, at least this one does.
Now, many, many years after that sixth to seventh grade summer I am pleased that Facebook brought Mike back into my life because of the preparation for our high school reunion. Over the year or so that I have had a Facebook account Mike has sent me some very thoughtful messages, especially when my Dad died. His mom is a friend of mine on Facebook as well as his sisters. For years I wondered about them and what they were all doing and I am so pleased at how wonderfully life has turned out for a family that once accepted me as just another one of the kids underfoot.
The first time Mike and I talked prior to the reunion for about an hour on the phone he told me that his mom saw me on a national television show years ago promoting my first book. I think he said she was "proud that weird kid you used to hang around with turned out so well... WHEW!" Actually some of the nicest comment I have received on Facebook have been from Mike's mom, congratulating me on my career and family ( I think she is a bit surprised, ha ha). The world is so small.
Mike and I still share the passion we once had for biking, but now we both mountain bike. Perhaps some day Mike and I will bike together again. Though from the looks of his blog, I might not be able to keep up with him anymore (his blog is mostly about his mountain bike team, the races he competes in and some other pretty groovy stuff).
At the end of it all, it is friends and family that make this a richer world to travel through. I will always be glad about the place my friend Mike holds in my memories and thank him for being such a great friend back in the day when I really, really needed a buddy I could hang with and depend on. Mike was one of my mom's very favorites of my friends and my mom had very good taste!
If you had a friend like this that you have wondered about over the years, reach out and find them. It really is pretty easy now with this wonderful world of web. If you find a person of great character and when they laugh you basically still hear that kid you hung out with, you will be a richer person for it! And if you don't and there is no happily ever after, at least your curiosity will be sated. Thanks Mike for being my buddy back in the day and now! By the way Dude, you STILL smile with your entire face!