For years, when people have asked me who my best friend in high school was, my answer has been Andy Smith -- Andrew Smith now that he's a grown-up and a writer.
He was, at the time, the funniest person I'd ever known. He taught me how to write, how to question, how to yearn. He broke my heart twice -- once when he asked Key to the homecoming dance instead of me. I went with Kirstin, a German foreign exchange student in my photography class instead, just so I could BE there. But my heart was standing in Key's shoes (and boy, were they crowded).
Incidentally, Looking Glass was our band for that dance. And believe me, you haven't lived until you've heard "Brandi, you're a fine girl...what a good wife you would be...." a dozen times, live, in the course of three hours. Looking Glass had more hair than they had hit songs. : )
We spent a whole lot of Friday and Saturday nights at Disneyland, Magic Mountain, Mann's Chinese Theater, Pier I, Marie Calendar's, just where ever life and his Toyota would take us. We shared dreams and movies and records. He was my very best friend. I thought.
But now that we've reconnected, I realize I hardly knew him. I loved him. Don't get me wrong. He was my best friend and I wouldn't trade those memories for anything. But the kid I thought I knew and the man he's turned out to be don't always reconcile.
For example, in one of his most recent blogs he says he hates movies. Man, we saw dozens and dozens of movies when we were kids. It was one of our favorite things to do. Or I thought it was. Now I wonder, was it just my favorite thing to do and he put up with it? I didn't think so. Star Wars, Fantasia, Indiana Jones, The Omen, the Exorcist, those were all his idea. Good ideas, but his. But did he love movies then, if not now?
Maybe we never really know the people we think we know. Or maybe "know" is subject to relativity. I know how Andy reacts when I explode a ketchup packet and it hits his wheat jeans hours before the school day is scheduled to end. He REALLY doesn't like it. I know how loud he can scream when he's pretending to be terrified after seeing the Texas Chainsaw Massacre at the drive in. I know how frustrated he was when Mr. Smith threatened to shut down the school paper if we let the ACLU take the district to court in defense of our free speech. I know how much that manuscript he and Chris N. wrote meant to him, all those years ago. In fact, I still have it.
Maybe the rest -- all the things he never told me don't really matter -- at least not when you're looking forward, rather than back. Guess I'll wait and see. As for the second time he broke my heart, well, that's to be continued. If there are so many things I never knew about him way back then, maybe he had blind spots too.
Here's to the future.