Just today, I happened to find myself thinking about you. Maybe it has something to do with getting another year older, or maybe it was just a random bit of nostalgia that brought you to mind. Or maybe it's the fact that you're sitting in my living room chair at this moment, just as reliable and patient and omnipresent as always.
The things I remember most about you growing up are your quiet nature, your calming spirit. I remember the pensive quality of your gaze, so consistent despite my oscillating temperament. You were always agreeable too, and loyal, but not to the point of being a sheep. Maybe you didn't stand up to me as much as you should have, but I could always sense the disapproval you kept to yourself when I was up to no good. In that way, you were a leader, even as you were a follower.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, you got just as dirty as I did when we were young - if not more so. We took our leaps together, and - consequently - our falls. My successes were yours, and my failures likewise. You had your stitches, and I had mine. Boyhood was rough on the both of us, the way it should be. It taught us the taste of grass and fused the sensation of sweat running down our backs with the sense of accomplishment gleaned from hard work.
I think maybe we were so close because you were a reflection of the things I couldn't yet be - characteristics and qualities I wanted, but things for which I had to mature first in order to grasp. Maybe you were a template, one that wasn't much like me, but a mouthpiece for all my quirks and the recipient all my ideas, all my imaginings, which no one else could possibly understand or handle the way you could. In that sense, you were my muse, my confidant. You embodied the songs I couldn't yet write, the stories I couldn't yet transcribe. You were my first audience and my first critic, but you were gentle and we learned together how to dream big.
It's amusing in retrospect. As a kid, you don't think about these kinds of things. You just accept things as they are, at face value. Things are black and white, hard and easy, bad and good. The world only becomes complex when you shed that type of binary thinking in favor of adult ideas - gray areas, revelation, and common sense. As a kid, you were simply my friend, a playmate, company in times of loneliness and celebration. You were simply there, and I loved you for it. Time and again, you let me drag you behind me through the muck of life (sometimes literally) and still got up on the other side with a smile on your face - a smile which said, very plainly, "Let's do that again."
I want my children to have a friend like you while things are still simple. In fact, I want them to have you. I want their experiences with you to be just as memorable, just as enlightening. And when they get older, wiser, and more knowledgeable of the world, I hope they look back on their friendship with you and remember the romance of childhood. My warm, golden summers of the 1990's on the East Coast would have been merely sticky transitions without you beside me to enjoy them; for my kids, I want the same.