Four Lost Friends – Eddie & John

I avoid regrets like the plague. I don’t believe in them. They would eat me up and leave me in a pool of depressed self pity. But there is one area where I cannot reason my way out of having regrets. Friends who have disappeared from my life of my doing or of our shared doing. You see, I value friendship very highly almost to the level of family. Even though in both areas I have a horrible way of showing it and keeping in contact. I concentrate almost way too entirely on what is in front of me. So if we are not regular contact due to distance or social circles, I have a horrible habit of not being present. To a degree this is a natural occurance like in the first two cases, but it was really my fault in the second two. And it troubles me how I let these friendships disappear.

Eddie
Eddie lived at the other end of the block from us. This was probably when were about 5 or 6 (I’m horrible at remembering my age at different points in time). He was a skinny kid and if I remember right he wasn’t very coordinated. We used to go over to his house and throw a ball over the electrical wires that connected to the houses. There were three wires and the object was to get the ball over all three.

Once we decided to play fast pitch up against his house. His basement windows were about our height and were completely painted black including the panes of glass which I assumed were replaced with plywood. So I threw the ball and it hit the pane shattering it. Although it was my best friend’s house, my mind went through the following: ball + broken window = run like the wind. My father showed me a lesson in responsibility and repaired the window alongside Eddie’s father. Though I still have no idea why they painted the glass.

But when it came time to go to grade school, Eddie went to a different school. I remember seeing very little of him after that even though he still lived so close and we were such good friends.

John
John was also a childhood friend who actually was my best friend after Eddie went to another school. John did go to the same grade school and lived a couple doors down.

My time with him really defines for me what it was like growing up in the city. We played fast pitch along with “bounce out” against the walls of the factory behind our homes. Then climbed up on the roofs in order to retrieve all the balls we lost up there. We played whiffle ball on our corner using the sewer grates at each corner for bases. We were both members of the same team at the Neighborhood Boys Club down the street. We went and hung out at one of the nearby parks playing or climbing on the playground equipement. We borrowed old tennis rackets from our parents and actually played tennis (as best as kids can). Walking along the river even though our parents forbode us to. We frequented the local public pool. A few times we actually tried playing hockey on the bumpy frozen sheet of ice they would create at the park. And when we got older (11 or 12) we spent the summer playing golf at the city courses for the half-price junior rate. We either took the bus or rode our bikes to get there. One summer he got a job as a caddy and I think that was when we started seeing less of each other.

As with Eddie, our friendship changed when we changed schools. We actually went to the same high school, but I placed into honors classes while he placed into the regular levels. During all four years, we never had a class together. So we started running with different crowds. He was with the stoner/headbangers and I was with the honors/cross-country crowd. Sadly our divergence continued after that. He eventually went to drug rehab and dropped out of school.

At our high school graduation after all the names had been called, they called his name and he went up to accept his diploma. I was shocked and deeply saddened. Someone who I considered my best friend had completely disappeared from my life. He appeared to have completed his degree despite problems with drugs and I knew absolutely nothing about it. I hadn’t been there for him. I don’t think I even went over to congratulate him and find out what happened. The shame was too great.

In the years since then, I managed to talk to him two or three times. He became a mechanic and had a kid with a girl in the neighborhood though did not get married. I’d talk to his younger brother from time to time, but the opportunity to talk to John did not present itself very often. And now that our family has moved out of the neighborhood, I can only wonder what he is doing now.

The second half will follow next week.

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~ by Frank on November 28, 2007.

6 Responses to “Four Lost Friends – Eddie & John”

  1. We are in this life to learn, and we all have friends come and go from our lives. We are meant to learn from them, and they from us. We have lessons to learn, and how we handle friendships and relationships is part of the learning process. That’s not to say it can’t be humiliating or frought with conflict. Sometimes we learn best when we make those big mistakes and feel regret.

    Just remember that it is never too late to try and make contact. Yes, your lives have taken you on separate paths, but I would guess that Eddie and John might be just as interested to find out what’s going on with you as you are with them. So you’re not good at keeping in contact. Try to do better at it, and that will bring you some sense of satisfaction. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, as the saying goes. The fact that you are writing about these two friends shows that you still care about them. My guess would be that they might feel the same. And if they don’t, maybe you have already learned from them what you needed to know. Finding that out can help you move on, also.

    Give it a shot. You never know where something can lead until you try.

  2. Dammit. I was going to write this post, y’know.

    *sighs, then scrunches up paper into a ball, takes a swig of moonshine*

    I’m learning that the bonds which DO survive the ravages of time and distance un-scathed, are paradoxically the ones that seem to require the least effort – often naturally reciprocal and self-sustaining. Think about it: when we care for others – how long can we go without wanting some news from them?

    Good on you for having the heart (and cajones) to venture forth like this. As I get older, it gets much harder for me to that. I’ve learned, painfully, that you make contact with these friends, but only once. After that, let them live in memory.

    Hmm… maybe I will write that post afterall. Perhaps, there are still things left to say.

    I very rarely leave your blog uninspired Frank. Just thought I’d let you know that. 🙂

  3. We all have really good friends from points in our lives that seem to fall out of our daily lives. Make an attempt to find them. You may have diverged too far from each other that you share nothing in common anymore except for those memories but that is OK those moments of our youth, at the time so meaningless, are precious to us as we age and realize the fun free times we had then.

    I have not heard anything about Jon’s family since they moved out of the neighborhood as have we. NBGC may be a good source to track them down.

    Regarding Eddie, I do not know where to start possibly your sister can help track him down.

    Personaly, I often wonder the fate of my childhood chums on Hill St. I did meet one recently who has gone on to be a big time theatrical producer here in the big city. I always knew she was a special Black girl and would make it. I hope to attend one of her plays and see if I can talk to her again. Jackie, Patsy and I would take a bus and go on tours all over the city. Behind the scene tour of the Chicago Tribune was particularly fun and excitieng. I must have been 10 years old!

    I once met Clifton some years after leaving Hill St. He was my best buddy but seemed to have changed so much, he did not care to see me at all. That was a disappointment.

    I too truly cherish my friendships, I only have few left. None from my childhood days and only two from HS or college. Even good friends as co-workers have faded away. I guess that is the result of our busy lives.

    Hold on to the ones you have, make an effort to stay in touch. This internet is such a great vehicle available to you today.

  4. Thanks, everyone. This was really on my mind when I first wrote it and now after reading your comments. It brought me back to realizing that we will not be able to keep in contact with all the great people and best friends we know. In the first two cases, it really was a case of growing apart. The second two (which will be posted shortly) were also a bit of growing apart, but it was also partly my doing also. And that’s something I’d like to avoid in the future. It was hard to let go from some of the aquiantences that I had in Chicago after moving away. But I knew that it was a part of the move and I will likely be able to reconnect sometime in the future. Mainly because we will likely not change much compared to going from a kid to an adult.

    cathy: Although the internet has reconnected so many people, I’ve found it very difficult to track down many people from my past. I’ve only found the phone number of one of the four in these posts. I may try and call him, but I can’t say I’m sure how to approach him since he’s the one who we left on the worst terms. Maybe someday.

    S: I’m glad to have smoked you out of your recent hiatus. Thank you very much for the kind comment. Some days I feel like throwing in the blogging towel, but it makes it worth it that all of you find it interesting.

    Dad: For Eddie & John, I’d say it’d be great to meet up with them someday, but I have a feeling we’ve grown apart quite a bit as evidenced by my few encounters with John before leaving. I try to keep in contact with friends, though sometimes it’s at the expense of keeping in contact with extended family. I’ve always been bad at that. Even this past visit, I met up with people I had met via the internet, yet did not meet up with Mom’s family or Eric. It’s something I still need to work on. Because as we can see, many friends will come and go, but family is always there.

  5. […] December 5, 2007 This is the second half of a long post I had written. Here are the first two friends along with a little introduction. And here are the other […]

  6. Looks like you posted this some time ago but I’ll put in my reply anyway. I remember both Eddie, John and Nick. I thought you were a bit older when we hung out with Eddie because I have memories of that time too.

    I liked what you posted about hanging out with John. Funny, I think that I probably spent most of my childhood hanging out with you and your friends. I didn’t really have any girlfriends (except for Greta until she moved away) and was more of a tomboy anyway. Except for hanging out at NBC with the boys I think I did most of those things you mentioned.

    I tried contacting Eddie after he moved away. We were in high school. I wrote him this really long letter about what we were up to and asked him about himself. He sent back a short postcard. I figured he wasn’t much of a writer. At the time he’d moved up to the north edge of the city.

    I like to think that there are some friendships that are only meant to last a little while. That each connection you have with another person serves a purpose, either in your life or in theirs. So regardless of if it is 3 minute conversation in an elevator or a 3 year friendship, there is something to be gained from the interaction. If it served its purpose, then the connection is complete. Maybe Eddie, John, etc. were part of your life for that time in your life because that’s what you needed to shape you into the person you are today. If they come back into your life it’s because there’s a new purpose to the connection.

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