Good morning, Netizens...
Sometime when the yardarm leans approximately in the direction of 9:00 AM or so, my long-time friend Mhibbs and I are meeting for breakfast at a place known to us as The Hilltop Cafe (Annie's) on North Nevada at the curve. We have been tending this ritual, of having breakfast together, for several years, over a decade if you include various other times we have met, and like so many other friendships that have gone on before this time, we always reminisce over what books we have read, our travels throughout the Inland Northwest, and the world events as they unfold around us. We always have good things to discuss.
Our meeting fits me well, like a suit that is so old the cloth is polished with use, with lots of pieces of debris in the pockets when you retrieve it from the closet where it has been hanging for years untended, unworn. Yet, when I fit breakfast with Mhibbs into my aggressive and sometimes overwhelming schedule, it is like sliding into that old memory-filled suit coat again, as if I had never stopped really wearing it. I slide my arms into the sleeves of friendship, and reaching deeply into the pocket filled with memories that I have held and cherished for years, and breathing deeply, I once more travel down a road less-traveled but so deeply a part of my past.
What is friendship, I ask myself this morning in my reverie. What is it that so binds the souls of people together to where despite being absent from one another, they are inseparable?
Decades ago I used to spend a great deal of time sitting on the park benches of Thompkins Square Park in the East Village of New York, and amid the chaos of the heroin dealers, homeless Hippies and various other local empoverished residents, I studied the elderly chess players who gathered there each morning, and was spellbound with the cross-section of society, the various languages I heard and the wealth of the cultures that were a daily part of my life during that brief moment in time.
Perhaps the fondest memories I have of those days living on Saint Marks Place immediately adjacent to the park, were the septuagenarians who sat quietly beneath the huge elm trees in the park in summer, as friends often do, talking often of old times, of times and places I had never gathered into my wealth of experiences. I recall faded old men with Concentration Camp numbers visibly tattooed on their arms, who spoke of Germanic history as if it happened just the day before, and a panoply of horrors of which I had little actual knowledge. Yet it was peaceful there beneath the trees, a solace from my fractured childhood and the horror of their past , and yet it became an education about friendship.
It was a time of healing, and through these old friends sitting in summer's splendor in a ten acre park on rustic park benches, I learned of friendship that surpasses all. So thus occasionally, as I sit with Mhibbs eating an excellent breakfast, I remember those times and am proud to say yes, I have a good friend, with whom we speak of the past as if it were yesterday.