Taken in Niagara Falls, NY 2008
Throughout our lives we encounter a vast number of people, and of course there are those who touch us in a way that enriches us more than others. We call them friends; a lot of the time, through brief encounters, we meet others known as acquaintances who can propel us in directions we wish to go. However, throughout this blog, I want to talk about the different levels of intimacy we can experience during the different phases of life. Now, I’m not talking about “sexual” intimacy, rather, the quality of being warm, comfortable and familiar with another person, whether it be with someone of the same sex or the opposite gender.
The most memorable and nostalgic time, for about 87% of people from the western/modern culture, would be between the ages of six and nineteen. I come up with my own percentage because there are plenty of people out there who haven’t grown up the same way; they could have kept more to themselves, been depressed, bullied, abused, or from a completely different culture and so on. But even they are likely to have had one or two friends with a deep connection. However, the friendships we experienced in our youth were much closer and richer, so much so that if you ever hear a particular song, smell a distinctive fragrance or come across a certain food, it triggers a memory that can fill you with nostalgia and a sense of happiness as you reminisce about your younger years.
From about age five to ten, those friendships could have been apart of the building block of the person who you are today. Many of you still know those people very well, the ones you went to daycare or preschool with; that friend that you colored with, the one that stood up for you in the playground, or even the one that felt bad for hurting your feelings. As a young child it’s so much easier to make friends, even just remembering it now friendships seemed to just have started, like a dream; for the people with a great memory you might remember exactly how it started, making the memory that much more sweeter.
For me, from the age of six until about ten, I had a friend named Carl. He and I went to the same day care and first grade. We were the kind of friends that stuck by each other when playing, listening to the teacher tell a story and so on. I can barely remember his face now, but I do remember the feeling of comfort and loyalty I got when I was with him. I lost contact with him before going off to second grade, and until this day I haven’t heard or spoken him.
From ages twelve to fifteen, you have those friends who are there with you when puberty starts and noticing the opposite sex begins. You start to see groups of boy hanging around together and girls too, whispering in each others’ ears, while the boys pull on the girls’ hair. It can’t help but bring a little smile to your face as you remember the silly moments in life that could have left you feeling utterly embarrassed or completely hopeless at yourself.
There was a girl named Tammy I used to love. I remember during recess I’d act like I was the scarecrow from the wizard of oz in order to impress her and the group of girls she was with. I also knew Tammy from daycare. I vividly recall a time where she let me place my head on her lap to sleep, I think I might have been feeling sad that day. I’m not fully sure how it happened but it was very tender moment. At the same time, I had a very close friendship with a kid named Warren. He and I would ride our bikes in different areas of the Bronx, venturing to places that we’d never been to. It was risky because my mother didn’t allow me to go further than a block from where I lived. We had to be quick in our exploration. We also had a lot of sleepovers and tons of pizza. Our friendship ended shortly before going to junior high school, and I haven’t spoken to him since — nor to Tammy.
Things become very interesting from age sixteen to nineteen/twenty. At that point in your life, you can have friends that can get you into some deep trouble, and or, have friends that are super supportive throughout this period in life — the critical points of reaching maturity. It’s almost like the true bond for both genders. Girls become women, boy become men; deepening into the masculine and feminine parts of ourselves, and, at the same time, experimenting with the other. The first real kiss, SEX, first and second base; the root of our romantic relationships with the opposite sex are formed, however embarrassing that is. For many teenage boys, this involved learning about women’s bodies; for women, encounters with an older guy. An experience filled with moments that were wrong but gushing with sensuality. But those friends were there, and much of us still know those friends until this day.
The longest friend that I have had is from junior high school and is named Brandon — the one on the left in the top photo. It’s like a dream, not knowing how it started, we’ve been so very close over the years. In those days we were known as Game Heads. At lunchtime at our school, we were allowed to go outside, and so what we would do is run out of the building and head to a small comic bookshop called Lasers. Those were the most amazing times in my life, Brandon and I were VERY good at kickin’ butt, and our favorite arcade game was Marvel VS Street fighter. We were so close that one of our friends asked Brandon if we were either gay or cousins. Now, in those time in a New York City school, you had to watch VERY carefully what you said to people, because they WOULD gossip about it and, being teenagers in those days, they NEVER let it go (probably true for all generations). Brandon, naturally, chose the option of us being cousins. He took me to the side and told me very sternly that I had to back him up, because back then I was free loving spirit and pretty much didn’t think about things like that. Brandon and I also explored girls as well, sometimes at similar moments (not like in the same room or anything, get your mind out the gutter). We’ve watched and supported each other through the various relationships we had with different girls throughout our life. I’ve watched Brandon have children while witnessing them growing up. Even occasionally, we’d scream out the stuff we did when we were younger in the streets of NYC. And until this day, we’re still very close — we’re cousins after all. I even have a few high school friends until today: Eddy, Megan, and Jose. I love them all very much.
While writing this post I can feel an intense amount of nostalgia and happiness reliving the childhood memories and friendships I’ve had and still have. I miss the moments I spent speaking on the phone for hours, the sleep overs, playing online video games while talking on the phone, and experiencing all kinds of different situations that have lead to a strong bond and an an amazing ability to collaborate when problem solving (with Brandon). And I’m currently missing the times I used to watch Game Of Thrones with my friends Eddy, Rohan and Jose.
These friendships are so much apart of our lives and it’s a real shame that friendship like these seem to be unable to continue developing the way they used to because of “life.” Growing up and taking responsibility for paying bills, making a career, growing our own children and developing romantic relationships to start the whole process again for the next generation. I really miss the ease of which a friendship can flourish at a young age; not worrying about anything, focusing on having fun, and experiencing genuine laughter. Of course, you can have those at any age, but it’s not nearly as profound and distinct as in the younger years of our lives.