© 2009 Lynsey

116 – Of Christmas past

Terence and I met at high school. He was a misfit too – a huge kid in every respect – tall and overweight, just didn’t fit with any of the sporty/arty/surfy/drinky/druggy cliques. He was a good kid, had a knack for maths and music. He’s the only person I’ve ever seen move a piano by playing it; and from memory. Could’ve (should’ve) really blossomed with some school support but there was none of that carry on in our day. Terence came from a loving home although it’d be fair, if not charitable, to say Terence’s relationship with his father was tense. Terence would only invite me over to his house if his parents weren’t home. We got each other through homework assignments, swapping notes, and making stuff work. I didn’t realise it at the time, we looked after each other. Hindsight.

Terence loved to move – motorcycles, cars, vans – pretty much anything with wheels and an engine was good for him. When we were in school he had a frog-green car and we’d go to a dead end road down by the river and speed along to the dip under the bridge. I don’t know if we ever actually left the ground but it felt like it – slamming into the rise on the other side. It was different two up on Terence’s bike – there was a particularly nice piece of road and if you hit it just right you left the ground for heart stopping moments engine roaring and then bounce lurch and onwards. The torque on that bike was terrifying. I didn’t have a crash helmet, they weren’t compulsory in those days…

Terence went off from school and got a job in a bank. His knack with numbers stood him in good stead there, but I don’t think the ethos was ever really in line with his values. He found himself work initially in the local hospital, and from there in a psychiatric institution. After his reckless moments as a teen he really found a niche. His size, patience, and capacity for working nights were probably a useful combination. I’d started to travel, and work out of town, and we lost some levels of contact as you do and as it should when life moves you in different directions. After some years the Government decided that it was better to manage people with psychiatric issues in the community rather than in institutions so Terence started a new career – I believe a very happy fusion for him – a mobility taxi business – caring for people and driving.

A few years back my friend Terence was coming home on Christmas morning. He’d done the night shift with his mobility taxi, and was heading home to do the family thing with his partner and kids. Somehow Terence lost control of his BMW bike and he died alone on the side of the road.

It’s funny how the friends we make as kids are different somehow to the friends we make as adults. We’re supposed to be smarter, more sophisticated, or something; but the quality of friendship is different – more open, less guarded. Maybe we have more enemies in common as kids. The school yard traumas pull us together – comrades in arms. Maybe we have more time to spend together – and less responsibilities. Maybe we’re not trying to impress each other with our possessions, our wit, our wisdom. Perhaps our hearts measure the purity of love more easily when we’re young.

18. Every day express love. Some people need to hear it. Most people need to see it. Don’t take it for granted.
24. Every day is a journey. Not a destination.
50. Every day has an ending.

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