Tuesday, January 29, 2013

For Ever

I watched my son and his friend, up to their teenaged chins in snow, carrying on for quite a while. They discussed. They argued. They laughed and agreed again. During this time, they continued to move great chunks of ice and snow from the hole they were making in the drifts behind the cabin where we were staying. It was not the first fort they had constructed together, and it probably won't be the last, but in that quiet moment as the two of them set back about their work, I felt a twinge of jealousy.
I have built my share of forts, by myself and with others. I have made forts with my son. I have been on that very same hillside, tossing shovel after shovel full of cold, wet snow around in an attempt to generate a place to relax after a tough sled run, or a hole into which one could evade a fusillade of enemy projectiles. I didn't envy the fort. I envied the friendship.
When I was growing up, I never had a best friend without strings attached. The kid who lived down the street from me was mine via the coincidence of our neighborhood. He came into my life as a matter of course. His house was on the way to the elementary school we both would be attending. For all those years, it never occurred to me that I might have done better taking my chances on the open market, rather than suffer the extended verbal abuse that I foolishly surrendered to. It never occurred to me that there might be something better, just a couple of blocks over.
Of course, the circumstances that brought my son and his best friend together were not radically different from the way I was thrown together with mine. They were tossed into a childcare mix that proved convenient for the parents. It was a happy bit of luck that turned this association into a relationship that is still thriving as it meanders into its second decade. By the time I no longer had to rely on company to get me to school, high school, I had finally begun to figure out what I needed for a friend.
And in that moment when my past and my son's present began to coalesce, I realized that I didn't need to be jealous at all. The forts and snow adventures of my youth were shared with my brothers. They were the friends I had been forgetting.


Anonymous said...

The forts of your adulthood were built with friends of your choosing.

Anonymous said...

Forts rule!

Now, regarding the subject line of today's email, actually, it would be very uncomfortable for me if you laid her, with me by your side. I'm going to draw that boundary very clearly.