Both of us were getting ready to begin our sophomore year at Bryan Adams High School. Not THAT Bryan Adams. We’d been invited to take a summer debate workshop, and both of us joined the debate team.
It suited Brent down to the ground.
Me, not so much, though I tried hard.
That didn’t matter though. In our three years at B. A., sophomore through senior, we became great friends though we didn’t know it. We fought, mostly over who was the fattest (a tie depending on the year), who would wind up with this particular girl (neither of us), who would graduate higher in our class (we were both in the top 5% of a class of 997).
He’d make fun of my Southern accent, then I’d turn the tables and ridicule his Yankee dialect (he was from Cleveland and I just had to tell him that "root" rhymes with "boot" and "shoot" not "cut" and "strut").
Many times I believed he hated me.
He told me later that he thought I hated him.
I tried to hide my sadness when he moved back to Cleveland the day after graduation in May 1975, but the truth was that I knew I’d miss the hell out of him.
I took a summer job to prepare for college, but visited Brent for two weeks right before the start of the Fall Semester.
He visited me Christmas/New Year break.
We wrote over the years and occasionally spoke on the phone but no more visits for a long time.
I still have the letters he wrote.
One, in particular, he sent in 1981 hand written on yellow legal paper where he gushed about a beautiful dental hygienist named Michelle he was seeing.
They’re still married, and Michelle has become as close a friend as Brent. I would do anything for them, and know they would for me.
I visited them once in the late 80’s, and have at least once a year since 1994 with the exception of 2010, when Brent and Michelle came down to Texas for our 35 year reunion.
I find it remarkable how much we’ve changed. In high school Brent’s politics tended toward the liberal, while mine leaned toward the conservative. Now Brent is politically conservative, while I ventured toward the liberal.
I'm still not sure where we crossed each other.
I find it even more remarkable how much we haven’t changed. After all these years, he still laughs at the same things, displays the same nervous tics when he’s thinking, or frustrated.
I’m flying up to visit again on July 3rd. We’ll have a barbecue on Thursday the fourth, Independence Day here in the US. We'll go to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on Friday, and whatever we like on Saturday and Sunday.
Those five days I’ll feel at home.
I’ll leave Monday morning July 8th already looking forward to the next time.
I haven’t had the best of luck in the romantic department as some of my past posts have indicated, but I have been blessed with wonderful friends who consider me family and for whom I feel the same.
Brent and Michelle are two of them.
Hard to believe that he and I have been friends over forty years. A long time.
And yes, the above is a picture of the three of us taken in Cleveland in 2007. I'm the one with the salt and pepper beard.