Through the miracle of the internet, I ran across an old friend of mine. I haven’t yet said/written anything to him yet, but I befriended him on facebook. My absolute best best best best friend when I was little. My little neighborhood buddy Sam. (this is obviously not his real name, from now on it’s safe for you to just assume that every name on this blog is fictional. Except Husband, he really is my Husband) Anyway back to my post.
Sam was my absolute best friend. I don’t remember meeting Sam, of course I don’t remember much from back then, but he lived about 4 houses down from me and was one year older than me *sigh* the older man. We were best friends probably starting back somewhere when I was in pre-school or kindergarten. I was absolutely heartbroken when Sam’s family moved when I was 8. I cried for three days straight.
When I found him online I remembered this one specific day from my childhood. Sam came knocking on my door this day and informed me that he was running away. Very serious, he was packed and everything (see photo). But Sam stopped by to see if I was interested in coming too. The date on the photo puts us at age 6 & 7. As you can see he packed all the essentials, his tricycle, his suitcase (empty) and his sleeping bag. All loaded into the requisite red wagon. Of course when he showed up with this cargo my father’s first instinct was to run out and take a picture.
When Sam’s family moved, they only moved to the other side of the community, but when you’re 8, that’s positively the other side of the planet. We saw each other a few times but eventually drifted apart.
The next time I saw Sam I was in highschool. I was too afraid to say anything to him, afraid he wouldn’t know who I was. I went to a very white bread highschool. Sam didn’t fit in at all because he was very open about the fact that he was gay. Everyone was so mean to Sam and it broke my heart. He had to switch to another highschool before graduation because the harassment situation got so bad. I was really glad to see in his online photos that he looks happy now, in Miami. I don’t know how people can be so mean to other people.
I didn’t know what gay was when I was in kindergarten, but looking back now it’s very obvious he was gay even at the age of 6. He was the greatest friend, we played barbies and dress up just as much as we played hide and seek. Watching home movies of my birthday parties from then you can see all the stereotypical mannerisms even when he was 7. My mom likes to tell the story about the one day Sam went home wearing my tutu and his mother was FURIOUS. I think my parents knew even back then. I remember being shocked in highschool, in a place so unaccepting of Sam, that for Halloween, he came dressed as a girl.
I think he was right to leave our highschool, I can’t imagine how hard that was for him, or how heartbreaking that must be for a parent to watch people be so mean to your child. I think if he was my son I would have encouraged him to start taking college classes, some place where people are more open. Because there’s so much more to life than all of that.
I was so glad to find him online, see how happy he looks in all his pictures, with all of his friends. I’m glad that things seemed to have turned out so much better for my old friend. He’s not someone I’ve talked to for almost 20 years, but the kind of friend that you always want the best for.