He gets like that

One of my dear friends turned 40 today. She was the first of my group of childhood friends to get her driver’s license, the downside of which, I said to her today, is that she also is the first of our group of friends to hit middle age.

Of course, none of that statement is true.

Our friends — the ones who celebrated her 17th birthday years ago — are now scattered around the world, and some are no more our friends than the random stranger from Kenya who friend requested me yesterday on Facebook.

And, what really is “middle age?”

Is it literally the day you turn 40 — is that truly the middle of your life?

I feel as if I passed middle age long ago. Could be that my opinion will change, but I measure time as BC (before children) and WMBBTS (when my boobs began to sag).

So I pretty much hit middle age 10 years ago.

Contemplating my friend’s birthday and hearing a familiar voice in the back of my mind, I searched YouTube for the last scene of one of my favorite childhood movies — Stand By Me.

Somehow — and I am constantly amazed at how prescient I was of the nostalgic longing that accompanies aging — 12-year-old me was certain that grown Gordie’s words in the closing scene of the film were, and would remain, poignantly, heart-breakingly true.

From the film Stand By Me

From the film Stand By Me

It’s Richard Dreyfuss’ voice I heard this morning and whose voice I hear from time to time when I consider the impact my friends from childhood had (and continue to have) on the creation that is grownup me:

“I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was twelve…. Jesus does anybody?”

But when I watched the final scene of the film today, what struck me for the very first time is the unspoken, yet classic writer’s epiphany that prompts Gordie to tap out satisfyingly the closing line of his book.

Grown Gordie’s son enters the study to find his father staring at the computer. The kids ask Gordie to hurry up and they roll their eyes when he (for the umpteenth time) tells them “Okay, I’ll be right there” and continues to stare at the computer monitor.

The son turns to his friend and says:

“My dad’s weird. He gets like that when he’s writing.”

Gordie laughs.

I laughed, too, when I watched the scene today. I know well the “like that” of which his son speaks.

I know it as this feeling, this presence that soars into my heart when I finally grasp one of my life’s great truths — like the incomparable experience of knowing someone when you were 12 — and when I am able to transform this truth into words.

And share them.

When I can nod my head along with the cosmic consciousness in understanding.

And know for certain that you, the reader, will understand it too.

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