“Mmmm’ello?” I mumbled.
There was a lot of background noise. “Hey, I’m on a cargo plane, we just left Fiji.” It was Josh. What can you expect from a boy you met next to a roller coaster anyway?
“Come pick me up at LAX in a few hours.”
“Here’s the thing. We gotta keep a low profile at the airfield.”
“I’m glad you’re coming to town.”
And so it always was. Over the 11 years since, just when life would start to feel stale, he’d whirl in. From that fateful moment at age 16, as the roller coaster rumbled overhead, and he looked at me and said, “Hey, you ride with me,” I’d always picked up and went. That first summer we covered a lot of ground, fueled by food bought with our “employee discount” at SeaWorld. Two such fearless souls, a Honda CRX, and a few months of free time have never before combined with such giddy recklessness. My skin turned a lovely toasty warm shade, I bleached his hair, and I learned every french swear word in the book. He was Louise to my Thelma, ketchup to my nuggets, pager to my pay phone.
Do you have a friend like that? One you’d follow anywhere, when they turn up? I really hope so. One who can convince you that a really long skateboard is a perfectly legitimate airport shuttle? One who sees a spring storm ripping through the cherry blossom trees as nothing but a reason to dance among the swirling petals, who will lay with you on the warm pavement on a desert road and grow dizzy counting stars, one who’ll play newlyweds with you at a Mexican resort for free drinks, one who figures that as long as we can slide across the museum floors in our wet socks faster than security can we’ll be fine, one who gives you a mild hearth attack sitting up from under the blanket in your back seat and saying “Hey, south towards the border, we’ve got reservations, bitch,” one who might have scammed the money for your lunch, but shows up every single day after your best friend died and says “get in the car” and takes you ….. someplace, far away from yourself and your misery?
I was thinking of him tonight, and texted him to tell him that anytime I worry about getting old, I remember that he’ll never let that happen. He says he coming soon, and that we’ll see if we can find our old path over the mountains, into the desert, past the life sized chest set, to the resort we once got kicked out of for playing naked tennis.
When that happens, expect pictures of us looking like kids again.