Shaun has a limited supply of clothing these days, his apartment at college yet to be vacated. On this unseasonably warm day, he throws on the old nylon Mets jacket, the sleeves just barely make it to his wrists. He announces he is taking a walk. I usually invite him when I am going for a neighborhood stroll, but that´s ok, go on without me. Like all college kids suddenly finding themselves at home, he is adjusting to a new lifestyle. He misses his girlfriend, his music studies, his independence. As Shaun ventures out, I am reminded of all the years prior when he would head over to his friend Chris´s house. Even with bikes and later driverś licenses, the boys would walk to each otherś houses or meet halfway. Shaun and Chris became friends in 4th grade. It’s a funny story of first impressions and initial dislike. Yet, when Shaun had to write five slices of life for sophomore English, we laughed realizing that Chris was either in the forefront or backdrop of each story.
The last few years, the boys drifted apart. The shared passions that drew them together were not enough to sustain new priorities and distance. While Shaun will display an act of bravado, I know, he misses Chris, most noticeably when they are living a quarter of a mile away from each other. I miss how they used to invite me into their talks on the porch: analyzing the merits of the new Star Wars movie; sharing their love of film scores; bemoaning attempts to win a girl’s affections; and reminiscing about misadventures on the school bus. These boys shared Halloweens, football Sundays, divorced parents, and band trips, the ups and downs of the most formative years.
As I look out my window, up the hill, the bright blue jacket catches the light. I don´t see Shaun walking alone down the hill, I imagine that he has walked by Chris´s house, and that they have decided to take a walk, appropriate social distancing, of course. They are laughing and catching up. Maybe they are headed to the back porch.