We met when I was sixteen. We were still in high school and Jim dated a friend of mine who lived down the street. I didn’t see much of him for a few years after that, but then Jim transferred to the university I attended and we lived together in an apartment with Fred our senior year.
Jim embraced me as a friend at a time when I had few other friends in college. I could even say he saved me. I discovered what loyalty is, and now it’s 45 years later and he is still loyal to me.
How many things have happened across that time span? A lifetime’s worth. We traveled through Europe together after college for several months, hitchhiking and hopping on trains and camping, spending most of our limited money on beer and food and cigarettes.
We lived together in Woodstock. We tried going into business together. That didn’t work out and led to conflict, but our friendship survived. I gave a toast at his wedding. He visited me after I moved to California.
Later, I helped him put an addition on his house, and later still, helped him when he built his own house. I wasn’t a lot of help, just a day or two here and there of labor. I was no master craftsman like he was. But I showed up and lent a hand. He’s done countless projects at my house. You should see my bluestone stoop and front walk.
He gave a poignant reading at my wedding. He helped me move from New York City to Albany. We discovered mountain biking and rode as often as we could over some rather crazy trails, pushing each other and whooping and hollering and having some of the most fun of our lives. I had to help get him out of the woods when he broke his ankle. Every year we bow hunt for deer and he often gets one and I never do, but he doesn’t ridicule me for it.
We’ve supported each other in times of need and sorrow—and there have been many of those: death, and divorce, and disappointments, and children in peril. But more often we’ve celebrated and partied hard. Why? Because we can. Because we know what our friendship means.
Sure there have been rocky times, and disagreements, and differences of opinions. Why wouldn’t there be? But only a real friend sticks with you through the storms.
I know this about Jim: I can always count on him. And I will, because there’s no other friend like him.