I was in Ottawa for the past week staying with my friend Dave. It was great fun, for a several reasons.
1) General escape from my Toronto life (I like my Toronto life, but if you've been reading this for a while, you know that things have been a little *ahem* overwhelming the last year or more)
2) Spending time with my dear dear friend of 16 or so years for an extended period of time, instead of an afternoon, or if i'm really lucky a weekend, at a time. It felt good to reconnect.
3) Reconnecting with my friend Rhett after a gazillion years.
As you may have guessed from the subject line, I'm gonna talk about Rhett. God I love him so much! It was an interesting lesson in how sometimes when you connect with someone that connection is just gonna stick, no matter what.
I'll give you some history of Rhett and I. When I was a kid I lived in Zambia. When you live in a city across the world in a place like Lusaka all the ex-pats stick together, especially those from the same country as each other. The Canadian embassy there was a place we went to on a regular basis, it wasn't just some strange out-of-reach bureaucratic office. So, my parents were in Lusaka (dad was working for CIDA), and Rhett's parents were in Lusaka (no idea what they were doing there actually), and Rhett and I were the same age (8ish). This meant that our parents hung out together and, when our parents hung out together, then so did we.
Well, that's how it started anyway. What ended up happening actually was that we became fast friends, he quickly became my best friend, and our hanging out time became quite independent of when our parents would hang out. In retrospect it is pretty cool that we became so fucking close, considering the fact that at the time I would have had girl-cooties and he would have had boy-cooties. I mean, I had friends that were girls, and he had friends that were boys, but he was without a doubt my best friend. We never actually talked about it, but I suspect that I was his best friend at the time too. I mean, we were 8, how complex could it have been?
Anyway, the intensity of our friendship when WAY beyond our circumstantial pairing. When we moved from Zambia to Barbados the thing that broke my heart the most was leaving Rhett behind. Well, Rhett and my dogs. I was pretty heartbroken that we couldn't take the dogs with us.
So, off we went to Barbados, where I met new friends in the way a 9 year old does, but even there I missed Rhett tons. A year later we moved back to Guelph, where I reconnected with old friends and made new ones. And still, I missed Rhett.
My little 11 year old heart leapt for joy when I heard that Rhett and his family were not only moving back to Canada, but were in fact moving to GUELPH!!!!! Now, that's an age where cooties are at their hight, and he was building his life in Guelph with his friends, so we didn't see each other much, but I was very happy to have him back in my life. Unfortunately it was short-lived. His parents moved to Ottawa, which of course, meant he moved to Ottawa.
We lost touch for several years then. I didn't really know if I was allowed to track him down in Ottawa or if that would be weird. It sounds ridiculous to say that, but you know, teenagers aren't the most secure self-assured beings on the planet, and I was of course worried that he'd outgrown our friendship and would think I was just some clingy loser if I tracked him down. Years later, by some crazy happenstance, I ran into him in a random mall in Ottawa. I think we were about 17. We ended up standing in the same check-out line and eying each other for a while before we identified each other. So, we exchanged phone numbers and I think I called him that night from my grandma's house. I have memories of sitting in her basement and talking to him on the phone for hours. But we never saw each other again.
Then through the wonders of the internet we found each other again. I have no actual memory of how that actually happened. I know I wrote on this blog that I was looking for him, maybe someone found it and tipped him off. It was pre-facebook, so it wasn't that. Anyway, that doesn't matter. The point is, about a year ago John and I were in Ottawa and met him for a few pints. It was the first time I'd seen him in 14 years, and the second time I'd seen him in probably 18 or 19 years. Shit. When I actually write that out it's a bloody long time.
Anyway, this bloody long preamble was to give background to the fact that in the past week I was lucky enough to hang out with him twice. It was wonderful both times. In fact, I had a whole conversation with a friend of mine, who knew him from many many moons ago, about how it is impossible for anyone to not have a crush on him because he really has it all. He's smart, funny, attractive, a jocky kind of guy who loves the arts and has a philosophy degree, loves to have interesting actually kind of meaningful conversations (although they don't have to be wildly intense), can be totally politically incorrect, is very caring, loves nascar and the ballet, I mean, basically, whatever you like, Rhett does it. My friend suggested that perhaps if you were a guy who was insecure about your sexuality you wouldn't have a crush on him, I conceded that perhaps that was true. She then said though that they would still have a crush on him, they just wouldn't be able to admit it to themselves. We decided then that we had empirical proof that it is impossible to not have crush on Rhett. When I told Rhett of our scientific findings he assured me that I only thought that because I haven't spent much time with him. Although I let him say it, he's full of shit. It has been proven dammit!
And, cycling back to the beginning... I think that fundamental parts of our personality are fixed at a very early age. I think that the fact that someone I completely adored when I was 7 or 8 (and didn't subsequently stay in touch with so didn't do any of the 'growing together' things that I've done with other friends) is still someone I adore now that I've reconnected with him after all these years is a tidy demonstration of this fact.
Also... Yay Rhett!
And thus ends my 1200 word essay on hanging out with Rhett.