WHEN LARRY SANG OF LOVE, of feelings, of life’s emotional journeys, he took you along for the ride. Watching his hands dance over strings and frets was like being inside the music. He was a born entertainer.
Larry and I grew up in bungalows in the industrial part of town, raised by parents who intended that we have a better life than they did and who didn’t mind working for it. Neither bungalow would have been an article candidate, but both were wonderful homes. Larry and his family were from Hawaii, so life in their bungalow was a big tropical salad while ours was more like a warm dumpling. Diverse as we were, Larry and I became friends in high school. We both loved cars and drawing cars and we lived at the epicenter of the ‘50s hot rod and sports car cultures. He was as much at home at our house as I was at his.
Larry’s career took off just before my long-term European adventure. We met a few times after I returned to the U.S., but Larry wasn’t often in town. I’d see him on TV and single out his voice on the radio, but we both had careers and families and were focused on them. Eventually our friendship seemed like a memory. Last spring Larry surprised me with a phone call from his home in the Bitterroots. Initially there was an awkward catching-up ceremony, then we both dispensed with formalities and took the dive into our old friendship. It was fantastic. We drank it up, splashed around in it, floated in its warmth. Time revealed itself to be a myth at the first bolt of laughter. I still cherish the experience. After that first phone call we took regular fixes on the phone—until it became clear that it was time to have a real meeting.
There is so much beautiful country between the San Gabriels and the Bitterroots and this journey was about experiences and not about time, so I drove to Larry’s home. His dear little 95-year-old mother transformed a visit to a homecoming when she called ahead to ask what I would like for breakfast.
Is it possible to catch up after decades of separation? Larry and I really didn’t need to catch up. In fact the beauty and wonder of our reunion was that we were instantly so compatible. We didn’t see eye-to-eye on everything, yet even our differences had a sort of yin-yang fit. For a few days we celebrated the joy of rediscovered friendship by indulging in it. There were thoughtful discussions, too. Late into nights under clear Nez Perce skies, windows to eternity, the tropical salad and the dumpling marveled at the harmony of their spirits and beliefs. It was a magical reunion, proving that a friendship, falsely mourned as only a memory, was in fact a big gift just waiting to happen.
A few days ago Larry’s daughter called with the news we knew she would have to share one day. Immediately there was that bottomless, hollow sense of irreversible loss. But I was wrong about loss of our friendship the first time, so I’m open to future surprises.
For Larry and me there never really was a disconnect. There never will be. Like a sense of home and a parent’s love of a child, old friends are forever.
Looking forward to hearing from you,
Click here to return to Publisher’s Letters