When last we read LOD, he was prattling on about his first best friend, a former fixture in his life upon whom he now looks with decidedly mixed emotions ...
Like I said earlier, Sam and I spent much of our afternoons goofing around with cassette recorders. We pretended we were running a radio station (with clever call letters like WEERD-FM), and we taped all sorts of goofy skits--most of which involved music and inept employees in the background dropping things on each other's feet. Then we made the big purchase--a stand-alone microphone!--and morphed into news reports of terrible car accidents. We'd fill a waste basket with metal doohickeys, announce that we somehow had audio footage of the wreck, then drop the mike into the metal and shake it like gangbusters. Then the police would come, and the fire department, and the EMTs, all of whom would also careen into the mess, with similar percussive results. Then the news vans, and the mayor's limo, and the governor's limo, and the Popemobile, and any other vehicle we could think of until Sam's mom would finally plead for us to Please For The Love of God Find Another Hobby.
During the summers, we were often separated by family vacations. This was long before the Internets, mind you, so we used to write zany letters to each other. We'd write diagonally, or in scalene triangles, or concentric trapezoids, complete with illustrations that seemed breathtakingly original at the time but were really just rip-offs of Don Martin.
Sam was a year ahead of me in school, and after his first year at college he wouldn't stop yammering about how great it was. So I visited him for a weekend, and sure enough it was awesome, and before you knew it I enrolled there, too. For three years we carpooled back and forth, and each trip was 8 hours of silly joy.
He got married at the ripe-young age of 26, and I was his co-Best Man. On his wedding day he gave me a Best Man gift and a card that read, in part:
I value your friendship more than any other. I guess that says it all. I don't want my getting married to put distance between us (as often happens to people). That would be stupid. So there.
And yet. He went away to grad school, and when he came home he had to spend all his time with his parents, who missed him, and his wife's parents, who missed her. Our visits became fewer and further between; our calls soon did, too. He became a devoted husband and father, and a partner in a small architecture firm, and before you knew it we didn't have anything in common anymore. Our lives, parallel for so long, just veered away from each other.
If you're out there, Sam, I want you know that I hope you're OK, that your friendship was about the only thing that kept me going through those first awkward months in my new town, and that whenever I see a multiple-car wreck on the interstate, I think of you.