of Leaps

March 3, 2012

I am not much company.
What little there is, rarely offered and sought even less.
I do have Friends. A close few, perhaps fortunately, infrequently forced into it.
Those, are very dear to me.
I had begun to wonder if perhaps in these years, the many ingredients that make for that soup of personality, that of friendships are borne, were escaping my loosely held grasp.
Some Men lose their hair or virility…I, any charm.
For some time, I’d thought this a predictable evolution, that with age came discrimination and scrutiny. With grounding came the discard of picayune engagements, thinking life increasingly too short for trivial expenses.
No longer willing to afford others carte blanche in regard to focus, I would insist on, at the very least, what I would offer. Verity of heart and mind.
That proved insurmountable for most.
Talk to me, I will hear you. If I interrupt, it’s to be sure I get your meaning…not to just drive in my own.
Look at me when you do, you’ll see me looking back. Barring any immediate disaster, you won’t find my attention, my gaze wandering.
Prepare for candor, for honest answers to frank questions.
Expect random, welcome inquisition. If not, if I can’t be bothered to wonder at your life, your wellbeing, thoughts or considerations, then what could I possibly mean to you…or you to me?
These, seemingly obvious, prerequisites are what I came to demand.
They proved so elusive in casual or intimate company that I came to doubt the feasability of any continued or future search.
I began to wonder at my own limitations, that my own failings determined the common demominator of inability to furrow, sow and nuture acquaintance. Too high a bar, too much in expectation.
Then, I saw an old Friend.
Torrey Lee and I, at one time, some years ago, were the best of Friends.
That we were, is improbable enough. We sprang from very different walks, ran in different circles and looked to very different futures. That we crossed paths at all, if consigned to fate, was improbable, but remarkable.
Torrey attended LaJolla High School, I hadn’t attended any. Torrey’s Family was of some note and bearing and mine…couldn’t bear me.
What sparked a friendship bewteen us was coffee and the culture it inhabited.
Downtown San Diego, particuraly the gas lamp quarter, in the mid 1980’s had very little to offer beyond the requisite arcades and peep shows of a historically military town.
On the corner, at 9th and G Streets, was a low ceilinged, white building that was home to the cities burgeoning art, coffee crowd. Java.
It was also where, one evening, I looked out a large glass window to see a stranger straddling my brand new motorcycle.
If it was an interest in coffee that sparked a friendship, there was also a measure of audacity on Torrey’s part.
That audacity left me speechless, wondering who would ever think it perfectly reasonable to saddle a strangers bike, without thinking or worse, caring, who it might belong.
“Oh, is this yours?”
Not even offering a conciliatory “nice bike” or “yea, go fuck yourself” in response to my dumbfounded, incredulous discovery. Just a look of bemusement that I might be at all curious as to who the hell he thought he was.
Obvioulsy, my reaction must have been impotent and…fortuitous, for Friends we were.
It was a friendship of epic road trips to Seattle, of chopping tops off cars, clubbing till dawn, accessorized with backpacks and absurd headwear “No one looks in the Bag, man”.
I’m not ashamed to say, Torrey was far more urbane than I. Though I think our Friendship was an equal one, he was in some ways my tutor. He knew about art and was creative. He introduced me to the finer points of a cup of coffee that have maintained an influence through the years. At the time, it seemed my Friend Torrey could do anything.
Then, we weren’t Friends anymore.
I don’t recall the reason. A disagreement.
Thinking back, about who I was at the time or, more importantly, who I wasn’t, the onus of that parting would not have been his.
It proved timely though. Soon after, he went on to have a family with a wondeful Woman, built a business and…remained audacious.
Lacking audacity, I still was able to pursue an adventurous living as well.
These days, Friends like Torrey are not near as commonplace.
I would have readily accepted this as a result of my own disposition, my unwillingness to suffer the inequities of modern aquaintence…but then I got to hang out with Torrey again.
Randomly, I thought to have coffee at his cafe on a recent trip to San Diego.
I hadn’t been before and was both impressed and envious at what he’s done. Owning or running a cafe like it, had been a fantasy of my own for years. He had done just as he thought to, over so many late night cups and done it well.
I’d only seen him twice in twenty years and both times were just in passing.
This visit, in just a very short time, I realized he hadn’t changed at all.
With another Friend, we went for a quick ride ride to the coast and then, accepting a gracious invite to have dinner with his Family, to his home in La Jolla.
If as inept as I had began to think, would I have been able to fall back into ┬ásuch easy comradrie, after so many years? Would I have been so pleased to be describing to his beautiful, audacious, daughter how her Father and I met. How much she reminded me of him when she took a bite of his eclaire without asking and then looked unconcerned with his displeasure? If somehow I’d become so withdrawn, could I have realized such unexpected pride in my Friends accomplishments?
Could we have been able to resume a long past, yet somehow very familiar, repartee without effort?
Is it only that we had been Friends before that allowed for genuine interest in each others lives, the flow of conversation that used hours like minutes?
I don’t think so.
I am grateful to my Friend Torrey for helping me realize that I am not inept but that I value the worth of good Friends and that I am just not willing to settle for less.
I may be more aware of those essentials than I was, more insistent they exist but after my visit with an old Friend, I no longer worry over them.