On Thursday an old friend from my childhood called me up. His name is Tony and he lives in Raleigh now. He tells me he is coming to town this weekend. Unfortunately, his uncle had passed away and he would be coming to town for the funeral.
“Let’s get together,” he said.
So, tonight I went out to dinner with who I would consider to be one of my life long friends. We ate wings, watched the Ravens beat the Titans (YAY!) and talked. We did some reminiscing but not as much as I thought we might. Instead, we talked about the here and now, our lives as they are today.
It was a good conversation. It felt like old times, sort of. It’s odd, you know, seeing someone you have always been close to and not missing a beat, as if we still lived two houses down from each other. But, really, that’s the way it supposed to be with friends. Time may pass and miles may separate, but that bond has always been there.
Tony and I met when we were around nine or so. I believe he was nine and I was ten at the time. He was the first black kid on our street and we bonded instantly. From that day forth we were rarely apart, on through our high school days.
Tony reminded me of something that I had never forgotten but warmed me to hear it. Neither of our families were what you would consider well off. Not by any standards. I guess that’s what makes these old memories so special.
“Do you remember how we would walk to school and we would stop off and by that bubble gum?”
“Hubba Bubba bubble gum,” I said. “Never forget it.”
He flashed that brilliant smile that made many a female’s heart pitter-patter. “Yeah, Hubba Bubba bubblegum.”
“Even though I didn’t have much money, you always said, I got you, man.”
I chuckled. You know that memory chuckle?
“You remember in high school how we would catch the city bus and we would stop and get biscuits. Sometimes I wouldn’t be able to get one and you would say I got you, man?”
“Yeah, those were great biscuits.”
“I just wanted to say thank you,” he said and he set a football jersey on the table—a Steve Smith jersey.
Wow. That’s all I could say. Well, that and thank you.
We talked some more, recalling some brief things about our childhood friendship. Then we started talking football. Yeah, two men together eating wings, it’s bound to happen. But, it felt so right.
We talked about Uncle Bulldog and a little about his life. We talked about another friend of ours who died on Tuesday. He was only 38. We talked about my family and his family and I knew when he dropped me off tonight I would miss him dearly.
And I do.
Tomorrow Tony’s family will lay to rest Uncle Bulldog and the he will head back to Raleigh. We will go about our lives as usual. But, I know I will miss him a little more now. You see, time never slows. His dad is seventy and his mother is sixty-three. My parents are both in their early sixties as well. Years have passed and we’ve grown older, had children, pursued dreams. And Tony is still one of my two closest friends. The other one is another friend from school—Keith. He lives three blocks from me and we work together.
I sit here at this computer and I type this meager piece about our friendship and my mind is rushing back to the past recalling the Hubba Bubba bubblegum, the pick-up football and basketball games, taking about girls, riding the bus together; those great biscuits, hanging out at his house with his mom, Pinky Mae and his brothers and sisters, talking trash about his Cowboys and whatever team I happen to be pulling for at the time, music and jokes and just good old times.
Good old times? Yeah, that’s what they were. Yeah, we had our share of rough times. I venture to say, as our parents get older, we will have a few more. I’m not looking forward to that.
This is one of those times I’m not really sure how to end something. There are so many things I could write, but I don’t think there is enough space to put it all. So, I’ll leave by saying these things:
Cherish each day, each person you love. In the blink of an eye time catches up to you and you’re wondering what happened to it.
To Uncle Bulldog and Chico Davis, we will miss you and may God bless you in your journey home.
To Tony, thank you for always being there, always being my friend and I miss you.
To my other family, Pinky Mae, Janice, Shirley, John, Don and Hoghead (don’t ask), may God bless you and keep you.
And, for you, the reader who took the time to read this sentimentality of mine, thank you. For, without you, I would have no real reasons to write, would I?
I’m AJ and I’m going to go see if I can find some Hubba Bubba bubblegum. Until next time, I’m out.