September 11th is an anniversary for me, but not the same as for so many other people. I remember the same event, but in a different way. I remember it because it precipitated some events that brought a very special friend into my life.
A number of years ago I was living in Halifax. I hadn't been there all that long, and I was trying to find some new footing for myself. I was interested in a kayak-building class. They gentleman who ran the course was very friendly and generous and had loaned me one of the models to take a paddle with him and former members of the course one evening, so I could see if it was something I really wanted to do or not. Of course after that fine evening of paddling and burgers and beers and chatting with new and fun people, I signed up.
Shortly before the start date, something horrible happened in a different country. It understandably freaked out a lot of people. The other two who had signed on for the class with me both shared the guilt that so many experienced and thus backed out. I couldn't understand how my denying myself an fun experience could make a difference to the world of hate and politics, if anything it reminded me of the value of enjoying my time here and now. The Kayak Guy was more than happy to just have the course being the two of us, so that next Saturday I showed up at his studio, and we began. I can't recall if it was the next day or the next weekend, but one of the the Kayak Guy's friends dropped by to say hello. I had met him before at the burger and beers. Oddly, he had never gotten around to trying to make a kayak. In an almost irreverent chat, it was decided that he'd take over the boat the Kayak Guy had started and do the course along side me.
Thus my friendship with Young Donald began.
At that time he was twice my age; the same age as my mother. We chatted and laughed a lot and developed a habit of visiting that same pub on an almost weekly basis for a long time. The friendship has waxed and waned over the years as they all do, sometimes with big gaps, and other times with almost-daily coffees. There's something wonderful and reassuring about having him in my life. He's one of those people that I feel will always be there, whatever happens. He wasn't at my PhD defense, and I wasn't at his most recent (and hopefully last?) wedding, but it doesn't diminish the happiness we felt for one-another on those occasions. I tease him about being old and forgetting that he told me that joke last week, and he teases me even more if I do the same thing.
I've not talked to Young Don in awhile. I can't articulate the disappointment I feel in myself when I realise this. I got wrapped up in myself and missed a birthday phone call, and still haven't climbed out of the fog of shame I feel to reach out. I'm hoping that my resolution I'm feeling here on our anniversary stays strong. I think it's long past time to make a call, or better... send a letter: he loves getting mail.