Some Things Never Change: A Moment with Bill Reflection
How It All Began
I haven’t a clue!
We’re talking about a fifty-two year landscape. Some memories are as clear as a mountain lake. Some have faded and may never show clarity again.
I know it began as freshmen in high school. At some point in time, during that tumultuous first year of higher learning, we met. At some later point we sat down and discovered a shared love of baseball and bowling. At some point, we became friends.
Two introverted, shy freshmen in a sea of testosterone and manufactured self-confidence, we seemed to gravitate towards each other. We were the dull brown walking among a sea of dazzling plumage. We were the unassuming, the chameleons, the extras in someone else’s play. Social settings confused us. We were poster children for the freaks and the geeks, the shy and the just plain weird.
Perhaps it was only natural and predictable that we gravitated towards each other.
Let Me Introduce You To…..
Francis Anthony Zderic and William Dale Holland.
Two peas in a pod.
Twin brothers from different mothers.
Back then Frank was a year older, one inch taller and fifteen pounds heavier. He was faster than me; I was stronger. We both wore black-framed glasses. Both had prominent noses and short hair. From a distance you might not be able to pick us apart. Get to know us and you would swear we were related.
Frank came from a large family, a seemingly never-ending flood of siblings, all third-generation Slavs. I was a mutt, an adopted Heinz 57, and my only sister was married and gone. Our parents were middle class, hard-working, old-school, no-nonsense billboards for domesticity. They loved their children, provided a stable environment for their children, and demanded that their children understand respect, responsibility and the value of an education. There was laughter in both homes. There was love in both homes. I was instantly accepted in his home and he in mine.
The friendship grew.
Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall
And the years moved on, and the two stumbling, bumbling freshmen became sophomores, and juniors, and seniors, and the friendship grew. Springs and summers meant baseball. Falls and winters meant bowling. Twelve months per year meant laughter. The painful high school years were less so because of our friendship. We gained self-confidence from each other. We supported each other. We were highly competitive but never with each other, choosing instead to be each other’s cheerleader in all competitions. His successes were my successes, and mine, his, and days became weeks and weeks, months, and defeats joined triumphs and tears joined laughter, and somehow those two incredibly shy freshmen were choosing colleges and lo and behold, shocker of shockers, they decided to attend the same college, Seattle University, and to be roommates.
And oh my Lord did we have fun, too much fun, way too much fun, totally irresponsible fun at the expense of grades, and parents blew gaskets and responsibility was slowly learned, and facts and figures were force-fed into our brains as Vietnam raged and Grace Slick sang of rabbits and Cream of white rooms, and peace out, baby, make love, not war, a whirlwind of sensory overload for the two boys from Tacoma, Washington, twin brothers from different mothers.
The seasons continued to change, the friendship continued to flourish and then one day, college was in the rearview mirror and it was time to grow up, dreaded responsibilities entered the picture, jobs had to be secured, bills had to be paid, women had to be dated, marriages had to be arranged and when time would allow, the two friends still found time for a game of catch, a game of tennis, slowpitch leagues and bowling leagues, divorces came, healing roadtrips, always to the background music of laughter.
Then there were children, and responsibilities doubled, tripled, and time spent together decreased and eventually ended. Separate states, to and fro, Alaska, Nevada, Oregon, California, Vermont, losing touch with each other, more jobs, lessons learned and memories were all we had.
Twin brothers from different mothers, cast adrift, ten years, twenty years, no contact, no clue….and then…..
Thank You Facebook
Unbelievably, even though in today’s world it is practically impossible to be anonymous, Frank had managed it. He had no online presence. He had moved so often that it was impossible to track down his current address or phone number. For five years, on and off, I tried to find my best friend, and each attempt was met with frustration. I knew he was in Ashland, Oregon, but short of driving down to that city and standing on a street corner with a placard, I had no clue how to find him.
And then one day, three weeks ago, I received a phone call. I didn’t recognize the number, which usually means I won’t answer, but for some reason this time I did….and it was Frank. He had been visiting a friend and asked his friend to look me up on Facebook. Just a whim. Just a shot in the dark….and there I was, plastered all over, easy to find, easy to contact, pick up the phone, punch in the numbers, say hello, this is Frank…..
And the years came roaring back, the memories cascaded over me, and I found my eyes had suddenly grown wet, must be allergies, must be dust in the air, must be….love for my best friend.
He was coming back to Olympia, visiting a friend, seeing relatives in Tacoma, would I like to get together? Are you kidding me, would I like, name the time and place and he did and last week we did, and the car pulled to the curb out front and the door opened and Frank stepped out and the years disappeared and we were hugging, laughing, remembering, two Medicare members transported back in time, simpler times, before the responsibilities, the heartaches, and amazingly…….
We both had arrived at the same place. We both had tossed aside the mundane in life and wrapped our arms and psyches around the most elusive of gifts….we were both happy. We were both married to marvelous, loving women. We had both found peace. We had both come to terms with who we are, who we were, what we had done and what we now do, and we were content in that knowledge.
We reunited and it was beautiful. For three hours we relived those times, but more importantly, for three hours we affirmed the present and the future.
The afternoon ended with hugs and the promise of another meeting in three months. There will be emails and text messages, and the next time we see each other I’ll have a baseball glove, and Frank and I will go to the park and play catch and shag flyballs. Bev already mentioned us driving down to Ashland for a visit. She instantly loved my best friend, and it was obvious he felt the same for her.
So it is a happy ending and yet not an ending at all. We are healthy, he and I. Hopefully we will share many more memories together before the curtain falls on our mini play, but when that moment does arrive, when one of us passes on, the remaining twin brother will smile and know that life is good when we are blessed with extraordinary friends.
Nothing he and I did over the past fifty-two years has been newsworthy. We never commanded the center stage. We never made millions. We were just two shy introverts looking for our places in this life. And yet what we formed was remarkable, a friendship that lasted over half a century, a friendship based on mutual respect and love, and because of that friendship I am a better man today.
Some things never change!
2015 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)