Just exactly when do friends become “old friends?” Every day we get a little older, but that’s not the kind of age that defines these friends of ours. It’s the difference between having friends, and having friends that have always been there in some capacity through the years. The kind that can pick up where things were left off the last time you were together, and each and every time you catch up it brings a smile to everyone’s face. You can see by the expressions on the faces of these old friends that this is real and genuine and the laughter is from the heart. We all have friends that aren’t necessarily in our lives every day, but it’s always a smile and a hug that brings those good feelings of “old friends” to us whenever we are together.
Over the years, our world evolves into routines and patterns that are hard to break. It’s those old friends that take us back to the beginning and remind us of who we are and who we have always been. And just as some things never change, they show us the friendship that we built is still capable of supporting the weight of the world that is adulthood. Conversation is effortless and humor is found in the strangest places, and a few hours can make up for years without contact. But we don’t worry, because old friends understand that catching up is part of the deal. No grudges, no ill-feelings and plenty of trust. Old friends “just know.”
Old friends are a feeling. A feeling inside us that can’t be replaced with anything else – as there is nothing that can take the place of an old friend. Try to describe an old friend in words and it might sound like love, trust, understanding and happiness. But words can’t say it all and there is no definite description to someone this close to us as each one holds a special place near and dear in our hearts. Old friends just happen and there is no stopping it. Not everyone is an old friend to us, but everyone becomes an old friend to someone. We don’t pick and choose these special people in our lives, they are placed there. Paths cross and personalities click and it happens in an instant. And then an old friend is made – for life.
It’s been a long time. Years. A certain period of time in your life when the weather was just winter or summer. Nothing in between, just one or the other. We were either going to school or we were out for the summer, and as kids that was all we knew. As we got older, we started to notice the difference in the seasons and that there was actually a clock on the wall. Life was going on around us and we were taking in the view beyond the grasshoppers, mud puddles and those really straight sticks you would find every so often that you couldn’t stand to leave behind. We were growing up.
All of a sudden life became a little bigger. Where you sat in the car became somewhat of a status symbol. Back seat – a friend, front seat passenger side – good friend, driver seat – popular with your friends, and sitting in the middle of the front seat – girlfriend. At this stage we were just trying to figure out what we were going to do next Saturday night, not what we were going to do with the rest of our lives. We looked forward to the weekends for reasons other than getting caught up on yard work. Motivation by recreation.
But we keep getting older and that clock on the wall keeps ticking. It’s funny, as kids we didn’t notice the clock on the wall and time literally stood still. Now the clock is such a big part of who we are and what we do, it demands our attention. Like it or not, it’s ticking. But as young adults we were starting to realize that there was something bigger coming down the pike.
I’ve ridden motorcycles for a lot of years and just like my friends who played sports in school, I found a sport that I connected with. Somewhere in the middle of White City Kansas as I was riding a wheelie through one of those mud puddles, it should have hit me then that this is what I could be doing for a living. At seventeen, having the 8-track stereo in your car and enough money for pizza and a movie with your girlfriend was the depth of my focus, not a career in the motorcycle business. Looking back there were a couple of things I would have focused on more and that could have directly changed my life.
The winding road of life can take you to places you never dreamed of. Sometimes it’s the long way around and sometimes it was the obvious route that our stubborn, teenage pride or angst ignored. Either way, the old saying “it’s not the destination, it’s the journey” holds true. So here I am, fifty years old and working in the motorcycle business, motivated by one of the things I enjoy doing. The clock is still ticking and I’m still intrigued by a really straight stick when I see one, but I’ve learned to leave it on the ground. I’m riding and writing about motorcycles and my life of growing up in a small town in hopes that someone will find a little humor in it. It has taken a few years but it has finally dawned on me that life is as big as you make it. And I’m in the driver’s seat!