During the latter part of my high school days, I started watching Fox and the Hound on a fairly regular basis. I am not sure what started this tradition, but it went on into my college years where I would spend a night alone at home watching the tale of Tod and Copper, the bestest of friends until they weren’t. For those who are not familiar, here’s the trailer that would never work for today’s audience:
And a classic scene from the film:
And now to ruin the movie for those who haven’t seen it, here’s a clip of its final scene
To put it simply, the movie hits me hard every time. It’s one of the guaranteed films that leads to tears being shed. No one dies, and I have had some people argue with me it is a happy ending; however, to me, it captures the death of a great friendship, which is a truly tragic thing that happens all too often.
Friendship itself is fascinating and a topic in itself for a future post. Easily, my friends are my closest treasures, and I am fortunate to have some absolutely fantastic ones who have been with me through many, many times. I tend to think of friends on different tiers similar to how WaitbutWhy explained it.
One thing I have noticed over the years is those on the second and third tiers can drift in and out and even do some silly things but still make it back to their spot, but it is much harder for anyone who has ever made it to the first tier to return after something has happened to lead the friendship falling down the mountain. Is it possible for them to return to being one’s best friend in the Tier 1 circle? This question of whether a best friendship is truly reparable has been on my mind a lot lately and even more so after one of my best friends from college sent me a message on Monday after eight years of silence, but more on that later.
So often, when it comes to friendship, we think about the beginnings like the time we first truly met and connected with that someone we can’t really imagine our lives without. Then there are all the middle parts – the conversations, the dinners, the tears, the hugs, and the adventures that are some of the highest of high points in our lives. What we often don’t talk about are the break ups with our friends. With romance, most couples end with words of some sort to signal it’s over. There are the fights, the giving back of keys, divorces, and so on. However, when a best friendship dies, it tends to do so in a gradual way. Sure, there are the times people find out their best friend has done something extremely egregious like sleep with their wife or husband that leads to an abrupt end, but most often, the death is slow as if it is on life support until finally the heart just stops.
This makes me think back to some of the best friends I have had and lost. Nonsermitis has taken out too many of them unfortunately (I am still seeking a cure on a side note). Those stories are all the same though. The conversations once flowed in both directions until it just became one and then eventually none. More memorable deaths are a few others. There was the one in high school who let me know after Spring Break of our senior year she was trying to align herself better for the future and because of my lack of popularity (even though I was both our senior class president and homecoming king), our friendship didn’t work for her anymore. Then there was another high school best friend who just drifted away towards a different direction after we went to college. No matter how hard I tried to hold on with my attempting to see him whenever I was in the Lawrence/KC area, eventually I stopped fighting and also drifted off in my own direction. My time in Australia also took its toll on many of my other college best friends. Even with my best efforts to stay in touch and the amazing works of modern technology, the efforts were not returned, and that too led to my fading from the lives of quite a few people who were part of many of my favorite memories from my Emporia days.
More casualties happened during the first five months in Hutchinson where I was alone most of the time and knew no one here. I can still feel that break in the heart when two different once great friends mentioned over the phone how they had just spent an evening or more either in or right outside Hutch, but their schedules were so tight they couldn’t spare the time to see me. Many of the nights during those beginning months here were spent alone and feeling extremely lonely, and even seeing either of these friends for just one minute would have been a light in a very dark time, but that wasn’t meant to be, and the friendships pretty much were extinguished afterward. In none of my cases of losing best friends, with the exception of the popularity-seeking high school friend and an Australian best friend I once considered a brother until he called it quits while we were sitting in a park near the Dallas/Fort Worth airport the day before my thirtieth birthday, did we ever say our friendship was over. Instead, I held true to my ways that I stick around until I am no longer really wanted, and then when that time happens and my efforts to reach out seem in vain, I quietly exit stage left to head in one direction as he or she goes in another, never really seeming to notice my absence until one day . . .
And those one days have come. Several times, some of those once best friends have reached out. During my five-year class reunion, I swam out to a floating dock in the middle of a water-filled rock quarry to spend time watching the stars. As I took in a sight on the night sky I had been missing since moving from the country to head to college, I heard someone else swimming out to where I was, and then soon she appeared, the one who had once sought popularity. We caught up on our lives, and it was great. Everything in her world was going very well, and I was thrilled for her. Then she started to apologize for what she had done. Honestly, it wasn’t until after that apology the repressed memories came back of that conversation that ended our almost daily lunch outings and I understood for what she was asking forgiveness. We smiled, and I told her not to worry about it, for all was well. We were then to grab coffee sometime when I was in the Kansas City area; that coffee has yet to happen.
Then there was the other best friend from high school whose life eventually led to his drifting off to California. After ending his career in pharmacy in a rather big way, he went on a road trip to find himself. Many of those stops were places of his past, and, well, I was one of them. I was excited because we were once inseparable, and there was hope that friendship could be rekindled. The evening was good, and definitely time had aged us. The conversations flowed like they did back when we were younger and would spend hours hiking together or driving to Kansas City for movie marathons or contemplating life while working at the 54 Drive In. I was left with hope that perhaps our friendship would reignite, but besides that brief glow from what now seems like the last of the embers, life never came back to it.
There have been other attempts too of people trying to repair once was, but so far, nothing has worked, and I don’t know why. The common denominator is unfortunately/fortunately an idealistic fool known as me, and so often we just can’t find our footing again. Fortunately, Pandora made sure hope is always there thanks to its being trapped in some box some place. That hope was with me when I read the message from my college friend he sent to me on Monday apologizing for the past and asking for the chance to have me in his life once again. Our banter in the messages back and forth after that initial message was reminiscent of those good days that seem several lives ago, but there is the fact neither of us are the same people, for time definitely has changed us both; however, perhaps our phone call tomorrow will take our paths back to running along each other once again. Only time will tell.
So that is one of the several things that has been on my mind this last week. While the answer is still up in the air, I do know similar to Tod in that last scene of Fox and the Hound, I will always be doing my best to watch from afar (mainly through Facebook notifications these days) as I hope for nothing but happiness for their future and that they know I will always be grateful for the time when we were the best of friends.
To conclude, here are the full lyrics to Fox and the Hound’s “The Best of Friends”
When you’re the best of friends
Having so much fun together
You’re not even aware, you’re such a funny pair
You’re the best of friends
Life’s a happy game
You could clown around forever
Neither one of you sees, your natural boundaries
Life’s one happy game
If only the world wouldn’t get in the way
If only people would just let you play
They say you’re both being fools
You’re breaking all the rules
They can’t understand, the magic of your wonderland
When you’re the best of friends
Sharing all that you discover
When that moment has past, will that friendship last?
Who can say? There’s a way!
Oh I hope… I hope it never ends
‘Cause you’re the best of friends