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Sunday, September 30, 2012

My Huckleberry Friend - The Beginning

"We had a great adventure! Didn't even have to try!" - Huck Finn

I lost my closest and most complicated friend this year.  Complicated because well, like most people he was full of contradictions, only his contradictions, aggravated by alcohol, were more extreme than others.  When I met him he was near his the most of his most down and out, really unrecognizable from the person he thought he was or wanted to be.  He moved into my building on the skids, recently released from jail and recently divorced.  To me he was just another guy, one of the displaced (misplaced) adults that end up in downtown apartments.  I count myself among them.  We stand out by the fact that most of our co-residents are college students, albeit graduate students- only a few undergrads, in their 20's, so we form a little club of adults that chatted in the halls.  Warren (Teal to others) was friendly enough, maybe a little too friendly.  He'd say inoffensive, but real chummy things, most of which just slid off my back.  I didn't know him too well so it didn't much matter.  The other half of it was that he was frequently drunk, not so much as I would notice, it wasn't my business, but it made him a little friendlier than you would expect and given to a bit of storytelling and friendly advice.  I'm a bit standoffish, so I mostly held him at arms length, giving him a polite few minutes, but not much more.  We liked him alright, both myself and my wife, in part because of Buster, the original Buster (more on this later), his dog.  Buster was a shy, nervous Lhasa Apso, but we were dog people ourselves and liked to fuss over them.  So we became acquainted.  I didn't much see that we would be any more than that, but it was a start.  Friends are not too easy to come by downtown (or anywhere else for that matter) so in a calculating sort of way, we (I) put him on our candidate list of at least temporary friends.  It was interesting how the friendship grew and changed over time.  It said, I think, as much about myself as it said about him.  It was not a likely friendship and I never expected it to become what it became, but it is a long story and this is a fare beginning.  There were a lot of breakdowns on the long road to getting to know each other.  These breakdowns, as much as anything else became the building blocks of a not always healthy relationship.  I had no idea what I was getting into.  I'm not sure most people who knew him did.  That is the story I mean to tell.  He was not an ordinary person and things did not turn out well for him, but along the way we had some very interesting and rewarding times.  They didn't come without cost, but then that's how life is.  You have to pay the price of admission to see the show.  It really needs be told in chapters.  In time I hope to fill in the pages of the chapters I only now know the margins of.  He would have liked that.

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