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.