Thursday, December 09, 2004

Old Friend

I'm in Boston for two days in training for a piece of technology that isn't complicated enough to merit a training class. Had I known before I took this trip that this technology is as simple as it is, I would have saved my training budget for something else.

But being here, I remembered that an old friend from high school had moved here several years ago. After a quick google and a round of phone tag, he was in his car headed to pick me up next to a T station. I was doubly pleased with this because the people that I'm here with had ambitions for the evening which held absolutely no interest to me.

It was really enjoyable to catch up with my old friend. Our high school social situation was such that we could ignore our differences and take part in a friendship of convenience. We were both misfits in one way or another and misery loves company. After 17 years of sparse contact with each other, formerly small differences seemed much larger. Examples: He's runs a tiny little book publishing shop and gets paid somewhere around 25% of his brain power. I'm a technology geek who gets paid about 200% of mine. I'm fairly conservative. He looks like he's pretty liberal (although the specific topic didn't actually come up -- I'm just guessing). He's a literature guy. He reads things that express meaning and beauty. I'm a technology guy. I read stuff that describes function.

And despite the ostensive differences, I told him about my desire to write a book. He gave me some recommendations on how to get started. He asked me a few questions about technology, and I gave him a few opinions on those topics. I only got to spend a few hours with him, but I think I was reminded that there was some common thing that he and I shared in high school that allowed me (and maybe him) to ignore our differences. Long before the night was over, I didn't care about the differences anymore. I was just glad to get a chance to hang out with him and find out what's happened to him in the last 17 years.

He gave me four books that his shop has published: 3 poetry and 1 novel. He's done this kind of thing before. I'll probably start the novel and then quit as soon as it gets overly mired in symbolism, as seems to happen in all of the stuff he gives me. I doubt very seriously that I'll enjoy the poetry books. I need stuff explained to me, and (as far as I can tell) the point of poetry is to express stuff that really can't be explained.

I suspect he knows that I won't read the books. I don't think I've ever once talked about any of the other books that he's given me. And I pretty much knew when I took this set that I'd make an effort only to eventually give up. But that isn't the point. He offered them, and I took them. It was an act meant to keep the doors open even though we're different. I hope it never stops.

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