I met my oldest friend, Eric, in boarding school in Lennoxville, Quebec, more than 30 years ago. Sometimes many years go by when I don’t see Eric, talk to him or even exchange emails. After high school, at age 17, we moved into our first apartment together in Montreal. It was too much too soon. Eric excelled, I faltered. After the smoke cleared, our lives took markedly different paths: Eric lives in a small town in Quebec; he’s a teacher; his idea of a vacation is driving across the country with his wife and three kids — and a tent.
On one such excursion this summer, the five of them stopped in Vancouver to visit Danielle and me en route to camping near Whistler. So eager were they to set up their tent in the woods, even after so many weeks of roughing it, that we couldn't convince them to stay with us in the city even for one night. We settled for dinner. As I knew they would be, those few hours together were spent gleefully commiserating about life, listening to music, laughing our heads off, and taking frequent, melancholic detours (baffling to our spouses and children) down memory lane.
Eric knew me before I knew myself. He witnessed me, and I him, at the most awkward, earnest, selfish, goofy, confusing, often painful time of life. We've seen each other grow up, mellow out, aim high, sink low -- sometimes in real time, sometimes long after the experiences have been lived and sifted through. Our bond remains. He is an inextricable part of who I am, and how I perceive myself and the world. I'm deeply grateful for him, and for his unwavering love, acceptance and friendship.
Happy International Friendship Day -- to you, Eric, and to all the friends, new and old, who bring immeasurable joy and comfort to our lives.