Today is my oldest friend’s birthday. We met on the first day of grade three in September of 1974. Three weeks after Nixon resigned. Before the Vietnam War ended. Only four years after the Beatles broke up. Hank Aaron had just passed Babe Ruth and mankind had only walked on the moon for the first time five years earlier. It was a long time ago.
Mike and I both skipped grade four and we were in the same class in grade six and seven and eight. We played on the same hockey and softball teams and discovered ABBA and Barry Manilow together. We took the same Hustle dance lesson from a friend’s older sister. We navigated puberty in the disco era, which was no easy feat. We went to high school together, continued to play on the same teams and discovered a lot of the same music and books and movies that would shape our youth.
We’ve each had plenty of other good and dear friends over the years, and many of the same ones, but this particular friendship is unique for me.
Our birthdays are only two days apart so in those early days when we still had birthday parties, they were often joint ventures. Usually a movie was involved (The Towering Inferno is the first I remember) and more likely than not, the gift of music. It was only a buck or so for a 45.
Like any other lives long-lived, we’ve had our share of triumphs and tragedies. Sicknesses and losses and blessings. We were just chatting the other day about how lucky we’ve been.
Though we haven’t lived in the same city for a good part of the last 25 years, it really hasn’t changed a thing. Eleven years ago we celebrated our 40th birthdays together and last year we just turned fifty. Though a five hour drive apart, somehow we celebrated the milestone together. We kind of always do.
Mike has a beautiful wife and son and I have a beautiful wife but somehow, mid-March feels like it’s our time. Mike’s and mine. I think that will last a lifetime. And perhaps beyond. When one of us goes first, I hope the one who remains will continue to celebrate our friendship. Particularly in mid-March. This is my hope and will continue to be my privilege.
Happy Birthday, old friend.