A few weeks ago, I had some business travel to Seattle. Since I was on the west coast, I arranged to spend a few days in Vancouver visiting friends. Friends I haven’t seen in a very long time. This is the gang I hung out with over thirty years ago when we all had superpowers, time to burn and no responsibility.
It has been twenty years since I’d last visited the old gang. For me, the trip was a voyage through time as much as it was a trip across the country.
I imagined Vancouver would be late nights in bars, screaming along to blistering music or drinking in a pub raging against the world. Maybe we would climb a mountain to conquer something — the things we used to do.
I arrived on a Friday, anticipating everyone’s excitement at my arrival. I’d left all my responsibilities behind in Ottawa for a few days. For my friends though, this was another Friday night. Chris had to work; Tom couldn’t find a babysitter, Sarah had a crushing deadline and couldn’t leave the studio.
I spent my first night out west wandering around looking for something to eat. Has that ever happened to you? When you find yourself in the middle of a major city, restaurants everywhere yet you can’t find somewhere to eat? That was my Friday.
Saturday was the day to see people. I was nervous. Other than the odd comment on Facebook, we’ve had very little communication over the years. Would we have anything to talk about? Would we be relegated to small talk? Chatter about work or housing prices? How do you pick up friendships after so long apart?
Adam has been diagnosed with MS and no longer able to work in his beloved film industry. There would be no late nights drinking with him. The medication he was on and the diet to stay healthy ruled out alcohol. He walks with a cane and is still as funny and brilliant as ever. Chris still lives as he always has, bouncing from band to band, picking up short term jobs that he can quit to go on tour. Tom has a family now. Sarah is a widower, a mother of 3 and a successful artist. She has recently started teaching again so she could get out of the studio and see people.
My nervousness at what to expect quickly faded. We picked up as if it had been two days and not two decades since we were last together. We didn’t go to pubs, shows or stay out late. Instead, I had a great time getting to know the people my friends shared their lives with partners, children and new friends.
I would encourage any of you to look up your old gang. Life goes on, but the people you share your youth with have a special place in your life. For me, these were the people who were there when I began to be the person I am now. I miss my friends of long ago, I am enjoying who they are now, and I look forward to who we all become. One thing is for sure, I won’t wait another twenty years for my next vacation to Vancouver.