I hadn’t seen my good friend in ten years. He moved over 4,000 kilometres away and we lost touch. Life kind of got in the way. So in July, 2016, we flew out to visit and reconnect.
We were greeted warmly at the airport. A pleasant surprise. If I knew they were waiting on us, I wouldn’t have dawdled with the kids watching the Euro 2016 semi-final after deplaning.
After hugs and pleasantries, we rented a car, agreeing to meet at his place. As we drove toward the city, I noticed a number of roundabouts and commented on their efficiency to my wife. “I wish they had more of these in Ottawa.”
It took about thirty minutes to arrive at our destination. I parked the car and we approached my friend's home, a lovely abode with soothing flower gardens. I knocked on the door and a bespectacled man appeared. Big grins materialized on both our faces.
“Hey!” we shouted, hugging. “Long time no see!” I found it weird reaching up to hug him, as I was taller growing up.
Water droplets fell intermittently from the patio door awning, framing a forest-like backyard oasis; the placement of various pines and cedars lent an impression of space. My wife and I sat on the porch catching up with my friend, while the kids got to know each other. Someone mentioned “Nintendo” or one of its various permutations—“3DS,” “Wii” or “Wii U” and pretty soon, they were best buds. Nothing quite like bonding over video games.
The children migrated to board games, smiling at the game of Pokémon Monopoly unfold. “I will give you six hundred dollars for your Muk,” one of them offered my first-born. Another spun in a circle; my second-born shifted to the other side of the board, inspected a card and asked, “Who farted?”
“You!” someone shouted.
“You smelled it, you dealt it!” second-born laughed.
We spent the next day visiting several parks and playgrounds. I was impressed at the pedestrian- and cycle-friendly infrastructure. The city felt family-oriented. The kids were chummy.
My friend is a devoted dad. I felt blessed to spend time with them. I can’t believe he and I are in our forties. Seems like yesterday we were playing road hockey and ripping around the neighbourhood on our BMX bikes.
We packed a lot in during our four days there. While the activities were fun, what I cherish most is reconnecting with my friend, who is like a brother to me. I watched my kids play with his—they were having a blast. Why didn’t we visit sooner?
The morning light reflected off a dark, blue sea. I drove toward the airport and asked my boys,“What are you going to miss most about them?” First-born paused, contemplated. “Piece by Piece” by Kelly Clarkson played over the radio.
“Everything,” he said, his tone a simultaneous mixture: fondness for his new friends; sadness that we were leaving.
Ten years. Over 4,000 kilometres. Our bond spanned this time and distance. And from this bond, another was created: between my children and his.
Everything. So much emotion conveyed within one word.
I couldn’t have said it better myself.
Photo: Freeimages.com – Helen Bobis