Old friends

I’m catching up with an old mate for drinks on Friday night. He’s a crazy bastard, a Dutchman with a great appetite for life, the sort of guy who’ll shout the whole bar drinks in a fit of European gusto. There are a million stories about him out there, my favourite being the occasion he came home from a big night out only to find himself unable to get the front door open. Somehow he managed to climb in through a window, at which point he discovered it was the wrong house.

I used to catch up with him regularly when I lived in East St Kilda. The Local was our local, equidistant from where we lived. He’d call up at about 9 pm on any random weeknight and ask if I fancied a brew. I don’t think I ever said no. The place has been done up since, but then it was a very eclectic bar popular with the tranny set. Had some very interesting conversations and encounters, all of them good-natured. He was also there the night I was inadvertently picked up by a bloke (and his girlfriend) – but that’s another story.

So anyway he’s visiting from Singapore and wants to tear it up in the old fashioned way. He called me yesterday telling me it was starting today at lunchtime, before asking if I was available Thursday for a night at the AO, then the Stokehouse. No mate, I told him, Friday will do me. We’re meeting at the Arbory, and I’ll be the only non-Dutchie there.

There’s a bit of a reunion theme in general at the moment, and it’s welcome. I posted how my long-lost cousin contacted me at Christmas. Then yesterday I got in contact with an old work colleague.

I was on my way to work and passing a café saw someone inside I thought was someone I worked with 25 years ago. I didn’t have time to stop as the train was coming, but it got me thinking.

When I got into the office, I did a google search on another person from that company I’d been friendly with. I worked at the place for near on 5 years – an eternity in my working history (speaking of: 2 years today at my current employer). I have powerful memories of that time, and it’s hard to believe that it’s been so long. In my mind’s eye, they are all still youngish, yet of course, they will have aged. It’s the company where I fell in love with the woman I thought I must marry, but never did. The woman I discovered, years later, had ended her own life. It’s a significant part of my past.

So anyway, up he pops. I clicked on the link and his LinkedIn profile opens, recognisably the same guy, now a senior manager at some agriculture company. That was his thing. He has a Masters in ag science, and back in the day spent half his time in the lab (where he met his wife to be, a lab assistant).

I sent him an email, and soon enough we’re connected and exchanging messages as if not a day has passed. We have the same Christian name, and so we would address each other by the first letter of our surname – he was S, I was M. And so it was again yesterday.

We plan to catch up for a beer.

In my mind, this rash of reunions somehow aligns with my current plans, though it’s purely coincidental. It’s taking me back to a time that pre-dates my dark ages, reclaiming it as a legitimate aspect of my past. I had a life before, and it was pretty normal. Moving past the difficult times and the long trail of consequences is necessary if I am to have a normal life again. And anyway, there’s nostalgic pleasure in the contact.

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