.. I remember the kid next door with whom I grew up, a short and
stocky lad named Donald Meaux. Did I say stocky? A modern day Pillsbury Dough
Boy with high top sneakers and knee high-socks is a more accurate description.
He has been my next door neighbor for more than eighteen years. We met as most
children do through the friendship of our parents. Our fathers shared cold beers
in the evening, while our mothers gossiped in the kitchen over tea. Their two
diapered infants played in the playpen together day in and day out.
friendship, which was similar to that of a married couple, Donald and I had our
ups and our downs; yet for ten years, we spent day after day together. We often
fought, and then we made up once the ice cream man came around the corner in his
magical truck. But, like most good things, the friendship wore away with time. I
remember Donald as a spoiled, aggravating four year old.
Neither of these are
characteristics that anyone looks for in a lifelong friendship. Yet,
characteristics like these are not very important to a child of four. At four
years old, people hardly ever make logical decisions. After all, Donald and I
did share a bowl of dog food for dessert every now and then.
For the first few
years, our friendship was flawless. We spent day after day together. On the
weekends, we took turns sleeping at each other’s houses. I used to love
sleeping at Don’s house, because we were allowed to stay up later there than
at my house.
Another thing I loved about their house was the coveted “midnight
snack,” which consisted of either chocolate milk or Fruity Pebbles. We kept
ourselves awake until midnight, ate our snack, and then went to sleep. We
remained good, close friends for years. As time went on, Don and I started
having problems as friends, which was quite understandable since we spent every
Needless to say, we got on each other’s nerves. He was obnoxious
and aggravating. I was ornery and a momma’s boy. I remember how he loved
He used to play for hours on end, and he was good. One day he was
playing Super Mario 3, and he was about to defeat the game. Just as he was
winning, I turned off the television and blinded his view. When Don turned the
television back on, it was too late; he had lost.
He was furious with me and
literally attacked me like a wild predator. He scratched, clawed, and bit me,
while I punched and kicked him for at least thirty seconds. Then we got tired
and fell down. After that, we just started laughing and that was it.
was over. This kind of friendship is one that people do not expect to end. As
anyone can guess, time took its toll on our friendship. The friendship
deteriorated during our first year in high school.
There was not anything
complicated about it; it just happened. He kept his old friends, and I made new
ones. I played sports and he did not . I went out on the weekends and he stayed
As the years passed, we found ourselves even farther apart. We even found
ourselves avoiding each other at school to bypass an awkward situation, and I
stopped going over to his house after school. We lived less than fifty yards
away, but for years it felt as though it were miles. Over the eighteen years
that I have known Donald, I have learned a lot.
I have learned that people can
and will change. I have also learned that bad things get worse if you let them
linger, like old meat left out on the counter to spoil. Finally, I have learned
that there is a bright side to everything, even this. About two weeks ago,
Donald came home from Baton Rouge and stopped by my house.
We ended up talking
for hours about old times and school. We spoke for the first time in over three
years and had what was probably the most interesting conversation the two of us
have ever had. Is this not ironic? For years we lived so close physically, yet
so far apart socially. We lived next door to each other, but could not stop by
each other’s house just to talk.
Only when one of us moved far away to college
did we find it in ourselves to once again visit with each other.