Overboard with you, and don’t you make a fool of yourself another time this way.
The book: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
I have this friend.
Well, he’s more than a friend, but we’ll get to that later.
We became friends under the most ordinary of circumstances, but at the time, it seemed out of the ordinary for us. Spring 2008, fifth floor of the Student Services Building at UT.
Usually, he’s there a bit earlier. Usually, my appointments were on another day. That day in particular, somehow we were both there at the same time.
Superficially, we have nothing in common…no, really, absolutely, I can’t even think of any reason why we’d ever crossed paths. Bu we knew, on that very ordinary day, we’d become un-ordinary friends.
Now, ‘friendship’ can be a vague status. Friendship for me does not come easily. I’ll smile, hug you, and we can share laughs, maybe even a few tears together, but inside I’ll always be conditioning myself for the day you leave. I don’t mean it in a cynical way, nor in a melancholy way, but very much in a fact-of-life kind of way. Specific people fulfill different needs at different points in time. And it works the other way around, too. You come and go in other people’s lives. Constant motion. The fascinating thing is when we intersect and the meaning we attach to why we intersect when we do.
So, back to my friend. We crossed paths at a point of vulnerability in both our lives, and he’s reflected aspects of my being right back at me. Our conversations were always intense, because we would leverage them as opportunities to take a critical eye towards self-actualization. We’d observe, analyze, criticize, ruminate. We’d aid each other (or maybe even contribute to) confronting our neurosis. Boy, there
were are a lot of them. So yes, he’s much more than a mere friend. And I think you only get a few of those. More, if you’re lucky.
I bring this up because I needed to provide context for this next memory. I remember one sunny spring afternoon on South Congress, we were having some profound (I’m sure) discussion on race & ethnicity and how it manifests itself unconsciously in our every day routines. Hu turns his head left to look at me, right as I pull up to the intersection where an outdoor patio happy hour was in full swing, and states in the most serious of voices:
The irony of that very moment, us as “minorities,” physically separated, confined to my 2001 Honda Accord, peering through the window at a literal party, frozen margaritas and all, was not lost on me.
I promise, friend, I recall many more profound statements, but this one makes me chuckle the most.
End, Memory Six.
Next Week: Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paolo Freire