What Makes a Good Best Friend?

Everyone needs a friend who will tolerate their shenanigans. Sadly, not everyone has that, but I did. Actually, let me rephrase that — I do! From the trenches of grade six through to now, I have maintained the same best friend. No matter the geographical distances, life circumstances or individual happenings, we have kept the tether of friendship and brotherhood in tact.

I’m talking about my very best buddy in this crazy haze of life, Drew. We played hockey together, went trick-or-treating alongside one another, and snuck beer from my older brother’s fridge. Heck, we were even arrested together! Did some light community service at the same venue (I ended up hitting on a clown… that’s a different story for a different day…) thing is, no matter what has transpired, no matter the depths of adolescent trouble my ill-conceived schemes landed us in, Drew has been my best man through it all — we should all be so lucky as to have an unwavering beacon of loyalty in our lives.

Another aspect where Drew makes me feel lucky, is in that each time I am in his company, I feel a familiar warmth of memory come back to me — I feel like a teenager all over again.

Drew has been there in my life’s important moments; we graduated at the same time, and when he got a job and I moved away, we stayed in touch. When I was at my darkest moments, beleaguered by booze and demons, Drew did not cast me out. He did not judge me nor castigate me, he simply followed the course of kinship and kindness, likely hoping I’d find my way through the storm — and I did.

It has been on the other side of that perturbation where my now un-inebriated mind finds gratitude, and recognizes how fortunate a wretch I truly am.

Drew stayed on the phone with me for hours, through the night and well into the morning on the day my mum died. He didn’t become distracted by his surroundings, fatigue or the things he needed to do; I was his sole focus — hard to give that kind of time as a single dad — but he did. And why? Because he is a top tier human being. The best of the best.

One of my favourite movies from boyhood to now, Stand by Me, represents the bond I felt I shared between me and my friends. Similarities were further found in that the characters and my rabble shared the experience of small-town life. And I’ll tell you this, there’s no better way to grow up than residing within the confines of a diminutive sprawl.

Small-town, big memories…

A few weeks back, I traveled with Drew to Castlegar B.C., an impromptu road trip of sorts. It’s a five-hour journey from my doorstep to the borders of Castlegar, this gave plenty of opportunity for deep discussions about stunning actresses and their finely tuned… assets…

It also hit me along the way that I was actively forging yet another life long memory with a guy who holds top spot in my family tree.

It’s a unique thing, being aware of something important in the moment that it’s happening. I find in my life, that’s been something of a rarity. So when I noticed it, when I recognized it for what it was — a memory in the making — I paused, smiled and took polaroid’s in my mind’s eye.

As he drove, the coniferous landscape raced by from outside our windows. But as if to be cognizant performers, the emerald pines seemingly slowed down when they observed our gaze. It was a beautiful drive. My kind of weather — overcast and rainy — I loved it. Every single second.

Being in Drew’s company is proof positive to me that time is a construct that we don’t fully understand. Depending on the conversation, I can feel like that skinny, awkward teenager I once was, or a respected compatriot, an equal in the company of greatness. And all of life’s little vexations and conundrums melts away beneath the blanket of friendship.

As I said, we should all be so lucky.

Over the years and even now, Drew has tolerated my shenanigans. He’s never judged them, nor me. Sometimes, he was right there in the thick of them; though he was much better at evading parental consequence than I was…

In life, we think of love letters in a fairly rigid and linear way — but why should we not be able to speak of the love of feeling… well… loved? As a boy, the concept and implementation of love was something sorely lacking in my life. My father, an abusive and corrosive man, left scars to my skin, and wounds of perpetude on my soul. My mother, bless her, did the best she could with the tools she knew how to use, but unconditional love was not something she was accustomed to. You see, she did love me, I have no doubt, but often times that love was tied to something, the things I could do for her I mean; such as my going to buy her cigarettes, or KFC, making her a tea or even paying rent when I was fourteen. Whatever it may have been, any instance where those requirements were not met, my mother would become cold and bitter, scathing and cruel.

I can’t actually recount with accuracy the number of times my mother called me an “idiot,” or “stupid boy.” You know how many times Drew’s called me stupid, even when I was…? Never. Not one time.

Drew was my introduction to unconditional love and its existence. It may not have been the traditional concept of it, but it has since become invaluable. It’s made me a better man, a better person and it’s helped me to open my mind and judge things less.

Everyone needs a friend that tolerates their shenanigans… and now, you know of mine!

Thanks, buddy.

By the way, Oilers suck!!!

(For context, I’m a Sens fan – – so I don’t even know what post-season looks like!)

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