Monday, August 15, 2011

Wrinkly, Balding and Gray Haired Friends

Last week some old friends came by, Mori, Russel and his wife Jenn (friend too). Faith asked at some point how we all became friends. The simple answer is we met at church. 
August 8, 2011
I met Russel shortly after I made the transition between fetus and baby. I have no recollection of not knowing Russ. We went to church, Cubs/Scouts/Ventures, grades 9-12 together and played hooky. We started really hanging out once I learned I could ride my bike to his house. We bonded over typical boy things like when we accidentally lit the side of his house on fire, threw his dad's records in a pond (when you have cassettes who listens to vinyl?) and slept in his tree fort the night before grad.

Mori moved to Victoria when he was eight-ish. I remember finding out Russ and Mori played together before I was included, I was devastated and about nine years old. Soon enough we all did things together. Mori and I went to the same elementary and junior high. We skipped skool, made homemade onion rings and like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles we took ourselves and our skateboards into storm drains with flashlights. I am not sure how our combined IQ did not compute how dumb that was.

The three of us made skimboards. I still remember being the only ones skimming at Witty's Lagoon and people asking us about the boards. We camped, canoed, got in car accidents (those darn deer, eh Russ?) We dated and married each other's girlfriends/crushes, I though rebelled and married outside our circle.

Of course there were other friends. Why they're friends with me? I'm not so sure. There was more than those three that we grew up with, but why are we three still friendly? Is it Facebook? Familiarity? Curiosity? Nostalgia? I can't speak for them, of course. For me to not  be friends or friendly with anyone, let alone those I grew up with, they'd have to really, really not like me because I like or tolerate everyone.

One of my life defining moments was being diagnosed with cancer. With Russ being a cancer survivor I called him ...a few times. He always answered and calmed me down. We live several hours away, but see each other whenever we're in the same town and have time.

What about Mori? First I should note his fantastic wife Marnie has fed me and now us for years. Like any real friend, whether I see Mori, whether once a week or once a year there's no awkwardness. When I got the diagnosis, Mori dropped by with a hand written letter, the one any decent human being thinks they should or wished they had written at least once in their life to a friend.  Mori actually did though.

Among many things, his letter reminded me of what Neil Young sang...

One of these days,
I'm gonna sit down
and write a long letter
To all the good friends I've known
And I'm gonna try
And thank them all
for the good times together.

Friendship can be a rare and fickle thing; especially as we age and hopefully become more discerning. As a boy if I had a bike and a kid on the same block had a bike, we were the best of friends. Truthfully, on the surface that does seem to be true with "men" in their thirty's who are still playing video games; or women with babies the same age; or me with anyone that will play Scrabble with me (Anyone? Anyone? ...Anyone?).  

However today, as an adult, what friendship means is different, at least to me it is. I'd rather have one Mori dropping by with a letter, than a hundred people asking Faith when they bump into her "How's Ruban? Tell him 'Hi' for me." 
Of course, having a friend is being one and to answer Faith's question Mori and Russ are one to me. Perhaps I too will, one of these days, sit down and write a long letter to all the good friends I've known, but for today this blog will have to do.
New Years Eve 1990 - Russ' basement
Russel, Ruban, Mori


  1. Good friends are a treasure that really cannot be measured! I'm so glad you have some like that (of course you do!)
    You were a cute kid Ruban, definitely have the Smith good looks.

  2. Love this post. I often reminisce with times spent with all of you guys....In fact I reminisce with fondness about all of my Victoria peeps. I love you guys!

  3. Great post. I have a few questions for Russ now ... you threw Bob's records into the pond and set the side of the house on fire!!?