I ran into an old friend today, someone I haven’t seen since a lifetime ago or so it seems. And while it was great to see him, it also made me realize that I had traveled an ocean of time since last seeing him. And in traveling that massive ocean of time, well, things changed. I had changed.
He used to make me laugh when the only choices were to laugh or cry. I thought it was a wonderful trait to have. There was something magical about always being able to make someone laugh, to keep laughter around and not take things too seriously. It was shimmery, golden and simply perfection.
Somewhere between all the laughing, I recall he could sing. Not great, but he could sing and did so sometimes. I think when he wanted something that he thought I was going to say no to. He’d sing, and do these odd pantomimes to try to work it into a yes.
He still has those deep chocolate eyes that once seemed to be so full of laughter all the time. His shoulders haven’t shrunk and he still drives a jeep, just not the same one he had when I knew him an ocean ago.
He didn’t try to make me laugh the entire time we were visiting this time and he didn’t even hum. Because like myself, he too has travels an ocean of time. I got the feeling that while I hit a few storms and a number of squalls in my travels, it wouldn’t compare to what he had seen and been through. He reminded me of someone who is used to looking far onto the horizon for something, but never really finding it.
He told me that death has a way of stealing your laughter. The more you see it, the more you realize that there is a time for laughing and a time for being serious. And there is no way you can laugh with carefree nature when you’ve had to deal with as many deaths, as many examples of the horror humans inflict upon one another as he has.
I offered an ear, and one of my own shoulders (certainly not broad like his) to lean upon because everyone needs a place to lean or rest now and then. Life and the search for justice has a way of taking things from you, like carefree laughter and a sense of lightness in life.
And I realized that who I was across the other side of the ocean is so different in some ways than whom I am today. But somewhere now and then that younger me pops out as if to say there is something back there that’s important too. It isn’t so much the boy with the chocolate, laughing eyes or his broad shoulders. It isn’t his jeep that never seemed to be washed. It was those moments. When you could just throw your head back and laugh because the most serious thing that was going to happen was missing a grade, nothing more.