Thursday, February 7, 2008

Found

All throughout junior high & most of high school, I had a best friend named Paul. We were BFFs, true partners in crime...inseparable. We shared everything: music (cassette tapes), clothes, and even enemies. Then, in our junior year, we got into a huge (stupid) argument that ended our friendship. Both of us were too proud & stubborn to make the 1st move towards reconciliation, and I lost my best friend that year. We'd pass each other in the halls glaring at first, but then eventually we became invisible to each other. Paul had kept me focused & on the right path towards completing high school with a high GPA. With him out of the picture, my grades suffered the final year of high school. I'm not blaming him for that, it's just that I lost that scholastic/competitive spirit (I ended up with a 3.0, but I know it would've been much higher, had I been a better friend).

I often thought of him throughout the years. I'd wonder what he'd think of 'this or that', what he looked like now, was he bald...or fat? But above all, I wondered if he still had the same avant-garde sense of style he once had. You see, the 2 of us brought many styles into vogue, to our high school campus (mid-80's).

Some of you may be of a certain age to remember jeans that had hip & knee fold down pockets (with snap closures)...we were the first to wear those to our high school. We were also the first to wear tank tops over t-shirts, dress shirts with brooches at the collar, blazers with crests sewn on the chest pocket, rolled pant legs, and then there were the 501's, that we'd bleach thick, vertical stripes into the jeans using masking tape as guides.

Are you picturing Duckie? Yeah, that was my nickname. We were also the first to sport espadrilles (way before the malls started to sell them in every color of the rainbow), and then there were the kung-fu slippers that we once got ridiculed for wearing by some jocks (who thought that they weren't so 'gay' the following school year)...how we never got our fey asses kicked is beyond me.

Anyhoo, through the power of the internet, I found Paul. I was too nervous to call him directly and toyed for several weeks with just showing up at his office (he's an optometrist with an office about 30 miles away from me). So a couple of weeks ago, I tossed fear aside and drove to his office.

I walked into his busy office and there he was, talking to a patient. I felt incredibly awkward standing there, waiting. When he finished talking to her, he turned around, looked at me & recognized me instantly. We shook hands, spoke for about a minute, but he had to tend to another patient waiting for him in his office, so I sat in the waiting area for him. When he was finished with his last appointment, I watched Paul walk pass me and into his office. I sat in the waiting area for another 15 minutes and began to get the urge to flee. Another 10 minutes had passed, and now I was starting to feel a little foolish/pissed/confused.

So I get up to leave and ask the receptionist if I can leave Paul my contact info. She tells me to wait a sec while she calls him to remind him that I'm still here. So, out he comes, and asks me if I need help choosing a pair of frames.....huh? I explain that I'm there to just say hello & maybe re-establish a friendship. We sat and talked for about 30 minutes. He said that he's recently tried to find me, but obviously had no luck.

It's amazing how he hasn't aged at all (betch!). He's married now and has 3 very young children. He gave me all of his contact info (work, cell, and home phone #'s) and gave me explicit instructions to not leave a voicemail on his work phone #, but instead to have his receptionist page him. Paul seemed very serious about staying in contact and even mentioned that we should get together for dinner soon, but I don't know...I'm not sure where this friendship is going. We're two very different people now. My gut feeling is that I won't be hanging out with him anytime soon, and I'm doubtful that dinner's going to happen.

I sorta got a weird vibe waiting for him in the waiting area. I mean, if someone I haven't seen in over 20 years was waiting in my office, I'd be really anxious to get to him/her to catch up. Honestly, I'm ok if nothing further happens. I accomplished what I set out to do. I feel content just knowing that my friend is alive & well...the ball's in his court now.

15 comments:

jason said...

wow...what a great post.

I had a similar experience, reconnecting with a freind from over 20 years...but sort of chickened out at the last minute.

You're making me reconsider.

Mark in DE said...

I think its great that you didn't let fear stand in your way. I'm glad you got to reconnect with Paul, even if you don't wind up hanging out together again. You ARE very different now, but that may be a good thing.

Mark :-)

T Unit said...

It is great that you were confident enough to go there. Though, he might have been a little weirded out that you just went in and sat waiting. That could be why he acted so strange.
Could it be that he has some hidden mo tendencies that might give cause for him to feel conflicted. Just a random thought.
Could you please post a mid 80s pic? I am very curious about your Ducky phase.

Lewis said...

I think it's awesome. The power of the internet in the year 2008 is something else. He was probably quite taken aback to see you in his office, unannounced. Give it a chance, see what happens. Take advantage of every opportunity. Don't say no. You can always say NO later on.

Shirley Heezgay! said...

wow.

i had a best friend in the 8th grade, also named Paul.

We were two peas in a pod, and by that, I mean we were a couple of serious sissy boys who managed to find each comfort in each other's oddness.

he used to be really overprotective, jealous and weird about our relationship but FUCK he could make me laugh so hard.

in high school, we were ridiculed but he was FEARLESS in the face of impending beatings and would mouth off to the "big kids" that threatened to pound him. after a huge fight, i cut him loose. and like you, he eventually became invisible. until our senior year when we ended up as lab partners in biology. we slightly reconnected and i really missed the way he used to make me laugh. unfortch, one day he pissed me off so bad. I told him he had a really fat mouth sometimes and he replied "speaking of fat"....i was so enraged that i actually uttered the words, "meet me after school!"

he never showed. I've looked him up on the 'net. he's a "mind reader/magician" now. i've contemplated getting in touch, but i figure, what for? besides, if he's such a great mind reader, he'll find me.

silly fag.

Paul said...

I hope he gets back in contact with you to have that dinner soon. If not I'll come have dinner with you anytime!

Silly Billy said...

This is a great post. I have a sorta similar story. I had a best friend that I grew up with. We were best friends from 5 to 21. During college he lived in another state, but we would see each other all the time. Then, all of a sudden he stopped talking to me. Seems another friend of ours told him I took sides with a girlfriend of ours when he had a big blowout with her. Funny thing is, if my friend would have heard the conversation correctly I specifically said I was not going to take sides. When I told the ex-bf, he chose not to believe me. And me being stubborn just said well "Fuck you then". And we simply stopped talking.

Fast forward 10 years later and a mutual friend of ours was getting married. And my ex-bf was the best man. I was invited to the wedding and the bachelor party. I normally would not have gone to the bachelor party, but I agreed to go to hopefully see the ex-bf and maybe catch up. And we did just that. The reason we stopped talking never came up, even though I wanted to bring it up. We got along great and after the wedding (where we sat at the same table) we said we would keep in touch. He lives in Pennsylvania but comes to NYC for work often.

But now, 3 years later, we have not spoken since. I still regret not brining up the fight because maybe it would have smoothed things over and made us realize it was stupid we just stopped talking in the first place. And I still think about him and what he is doing (he is married with a kid I have heard through the grapevine), but at least I got to catch up with him for a few days. Still it sucks not talking to a person who knows me probably better than most people.

Christopher said...

Jason: Go for it man!

T-Unit & Lewis: I thought that it was unfair (maybe even rude) to just show up at the office, announced....and I apologized to Paul, but he poo-poo'd that & said that we're both adults & he would've been done the same...still, I think you're both right...he may need some time to process seeing a ghost from his past.

Shirl: sorry things didn't work out for you with the mind reader...his loss!

Billy: Wow...that's a long relationship. I borught up the fight with Paul, but he didn't want to talk about it...saying that we were both young & dumb. Glad you got to see your friend at least.

Big Daddy said...

So he was the Andrew Ridgely to your George Michael.

Ha.

Alex said...

Hey Chris,

I am friend of Paul, who got me going on the blogs so I could connect with other "once-married gay folks" lol. Glad you and Paul are doing so well. Take care.

-Alex

Michael Guy said...

Just let it grow. See where it goes. You know my BGF (best gay friend) that I reference all the time??...well, we only recently reconnected.

We had a huge falling out June 5th, 1990. I STILL remember the date! I did not speak to him till Spring 2006 when I'd learned that his mother had died.

We've both grown up. I owned my mistakes and jealousies. We are joined at the hip now. So, it's never too late to rediscover a friend.

If he was looking for you as well via the web maybe he needs a good friend, too. Just saying...if he calls--he calls, if not...you at least know he's alive and well.

Jesus I wrote a book here! :)

TCho said...

that's really bizarre that he just forgot about you in the waiting room. I got a weird vibe from your description of your reunion w/him.

D-Man said...

I been through this a few times and have found (much to my disappointment) that there really is no going back (well, almost never...) People go off in different directions for a reason, even if it doesn't seem like it. But, that in no way can ever take away from whatever you shared or experienced in the past.

cb said...

Sometimes there are bridges we cross that are impossible to go the other direction on.

dailybriefing said...

nice post friend.