While the largest part of my homecoming tour has been saying hello again to all my friends, there’s a tacit understanding that I’m once again saying goodbye for a while. This couldn’t have been more pronounced than last night, as my best friend and his wife came over for a family farewell dinner. After many years he’s finally leaving New Zealand to pursue new adventures in his wife’s home country of Finland. Hardly a new idea, he’s been chasing escape for years, but wasn’t finding much traction. After a recent event gave him the kick up the arse he needed, they bought tickets and looked toward a new horizon.
My friendship with him has spanned almost my entire life. We met when I was one and he was two. Our families being close, we grew almost inseparable. I have endless stories from our friendship. Here are a smattering:
- When I was three, I had a birthday cake with a small rubber Batman figure. He ended up getting the same Batman figure. Being the me that I was at three, I chewed on it enough to cleave the cape clean off. On one of our play dates, I noticed his figure and swapped it with mine. By the end of the play date he noticed the lack of a cape on his figure and called me on my shit. I learned he was nobody to fuck with.
- For his fourth birthday we got him a Shredder (Ninja Turtles) action figure. Right as he was about to unwrap his gift I whispered to him the immortal words “I hope you like the Shredder.” He never forgave me. For my thirtieth birthday he gave me a present and card. Knowing full well I was taught to read the card first, he’d colourfully emblazoned in large font “P.S. IT’S A SHREDDER.”
- We often went away to camps together, during which we were treated as fraternal twins. We would come, see, conquer. At our final camping experience (when we were getting old enough that holiday camps were losing their appeal) we were notorious. We organised our cabin into a crack Capture The Flag team to win the camp-wide competition. We dominated the talent show with our own Star Trek parody sketch. We held down every dance floor, made an awesome cabin song that was on everyone’s lips. We basically won camp. For the first time in the camp’s history, they awarded “most Spirited Campers” to us, instead of an individual prize.
- When we were seven or eight, we went to the beach. We were swimming and I found myself being pulled further and further out. I tried swimming against the pull but I was getting tuckered out. I didn’t realise I was stuck in a rip. Without hesitation he swam out and managed to pull me back to safety.
- When we were little kids our brothers told us that if we mooned Mr Whippy (ice cream truck), the driver would give us free fruit boats. We did. He didn’t. He just yelled and flipped us off. We cried. My friend’s mum made our brothers buy us fruit boats, so I guess our brothers didn’t exactly lie.
- When my friend got married, I was appointed best man duties. The most important of these was making sure he turned up safe and relaxed. An hour before the wedding we chilled out at a McDonalds drinking frozen cokes, trying to decide whether the “Bill Murray” playing golf on the TV was the actual Bill Murray. It was. Also my mate got hitched without a hitch.
- We once got really high, bought a ton of booze, candy and watched The Doors. His younger brother joined us at some stage, which was fun until his brother sat bolt upright, wide-eyed and opened his mouth. A torrent of vomit erupted in a solid stream. To this day it’s the only time I’ve seen vomit bounce.
- At our family Ohakune batch the local radio station was Ski FM. Ski FM would play ads for Amarula Cream in almost every ad break. We’d giggle and sing along to the jingle. This continued for weeks, then over multiple holidays. Finally at age ten or so, my mum relented and bought us the Amarula Cream we so desired at the local bar. It was then we truly leaned that the squeaky wheel gets oiled and that we could be pretty fucking squeaky. I just realised that I’ve never had Amarula Cream since.
It goes without saying that on some level I’ll miss him, but we haven’t been in the same country for over three years anyway. It’s not the kind of relationship that needs to be maintained. After close to 29 years, any time and distance disappears the moment we’re together again. I couldn’t be happier for him, venturing out into the world. I’ll just have to steer clear of rips.