Our weekly phone call, a two-hour conversation, almost to the minute, was something we both looked forward to, usually filled with a lot of laughter, life updates, pep talks, and dreams we shared only with each other. It was a time to connect, to be a pillar for each other while we wrestled with the world.
I knew something was up though when he answered, the conversation stalling, every attempt to jumpstart it thwarted, the laughter absent, silence a third party on the line, a friend but also an enemy stealing time, peace.
“Why don’t I come see you?” I suggested.
“I’ll meet you halfway,” he said.
We each bought a train ticket to Oakley, boarded, and prepared for what lay ahead. The train tugged and swayed, roared across the steel rails into wide open space, evergreen and spruce trees a barricade to keep out wanderers, offer serenity for restless travelers. I settled into my seat, inside the train’s steady rumbling, and let my anticipation wane. My dear friend would be waiting on the other end, not because there had been some great catastrophe, or a breakdown we couldn’t find our way through, but because we had old battle scars that could only be soothed by joy, the kind that came from seeing each other, holding each other until the irritation passed.