Forever? … Or Just ‘For Now’?
By Jeff Salter
This week’s ‘best buddies’ topic brought back lots of fond memories.
But let me start with a clarification: I never had a BF-F. It may have been generational … or perhaps a gender difference. Yeah, I had several good buddies, ‘best’ buddies in a particular year or two, and a group of friends who – in lower grades – played together at recess and sometimes got together at other times. But I don’t believe I ever thought of them as BF’s-Forever. Maybe it was because ‘forever’ was a concept I didn’t grasp … or perhaps I somehow knew our relationships would transition into something different. So I focused on the present and simply enjoyed being with my friends then and there.
At recess in 2nd or 3rd grade, I would often play with K. in a game featuring a toy cowboy and horse. K. wasn’t my BF, but I brought an extra horse and cowboy every day (during that stretch) … so he could better enjoy our game. That’s what buddies did.
In 4th and 5th grades, I had two buddies I considered my BFs — D.1 and D.2. I would go over to D.1’s house after school sometimes … and he’d occasionally come to mine. Same for D.2. — his house or mine after school (occasionally). Sometimes D.1 and I would also get together on Saturdays because, only 14 blocks away, we could reach each other on bikes. In those two years, D.1 and D.2 were my BF’s.
In Jr. H.S., however, D.1 went a different direction. We never stopped being friends, but we developed dissimilar interests … and moved in different circles. D.2 continued to be a close friend but we didn’t do the ‘after school’ stuff anymore. By then, the circle (which included D.2 and I) was larger — both for recess games and (occasionally) weekend stuff.
‘D’ # 3
The friend responsible for attracting this larger group was D.3. [I’m not lying that all these friends had names beginning with ‘D’.] At recess every day, D.3 brought the Whiffle ball and bat – in the spring – or the football (during fall). And D.3 lived on a virtual ‘wonderland’ which fronted a river and was nearly surrounded by woods. He had two tree-houses, a barn, a zip line, a little motor-skiff with a knee-board, and later a ‘real’ boat with skis. D.3 was often the primary host – at his estate and elsewhere – for what we loosely called ‘camp-outs’ –– but were usually just adventures with a campfire, sleeping bags, lousy food, and staying awake most of the night. Later on, some of us – though not D.3 – smoked contraband cigarettes at these events.
D.3 had everything … and he was genuinely a great guy: smart, hard-working, athletic, and generous to a fault. [I don’t remember a single soul who didn’t like D.3.] But was he my BF? No. We were in the same circle and he was at its center. D.3 always made me feel accepted and welcome. He was the best friend you could have … who wasn’t actually your BF. If that makes any sense.
High school buddies
All the dynamics changed in H.S. because we were much more keenly aware of girls. Ha. D.3 continued to be the center of my ‘guy’ circle through 9th grade. There was no ‘activity’ during H.S. recess – except for what was known as ‘B.S.-ing’ – but D.3 continued to host ‘camp-outs’ and they were among the most enjoyable experiences of my young life.
The missing year
In 10th grade, I moved from Louisiana to Iowa. New to that region … and new to that school.
On the first day of class, I knew only two people on the entire campus: one neighbor (who had many established friends and was merely ‘civil’ to me) … and a boy who was born and raised in Chile (but recently lived in Florida). L. and I had only briefly met prior to that school term, but – as two very obvious outsiders – we became fast friends. Yeah, we were BF’s … but not forever. After that year, I returned to Louisiana and L. went back to Florida. In these 45 years since Iowa, I’ve only seen L. twice! First at the wedding of my brother to L.’s sister … and then when a nephew (to both of us) got married.
L. and I had a wonderful friendship that entire year we were outsiders together … but even with him being an ‘in-law’ of sorts, we never kept up a relationship.
Junior & senior
This column is already too long, but I can’t leave out these two years because most of the friendships I cultivated after returning to my hometown were those which I’ve (joyfully) rekindled on FB recently.
Some of these boys and girls were people I’d known for many of my earlier school years (though we’d never been ‘friends’ per se). Some were ‘new’ kids in our school because their parents transferred to jobs in the New Orleans area. [Having just spent a year as a ‘new kid’, I ‘reached out’ to many of these newcomers.]
Other kids ‘new’ (to me) were those who’d been in smaller schools in outlying communities of our parish [county]. Those ‘feeder’ schools only went to 9th grade and then the kids transferred to our H.S. I made friends with many of them, too.
Forever is a long time
I had many wonderful relationships with LOTS of girls and boys in those final two years.
Were any of these boys or girls … my BF’s FOREVER? I never thought of them that way. But I do still think of them … often. Fondly. Gratefully. It’s been 43 years since H.S. ended. Sometimes that seems like ‘forever’.
Did you have one or more BF’s-Forever? Did ‘forever’ turn out to be as long as you envisioned?