I met an old, very old friend today. The first old is because we are about the same age, one each side of 80. The second old, a very old, is because we last saw each other in about 1970, over 40 years ago. I had been warned that he would be at this reunion of one-time neighbors, after he married at a late age into “the crowd”. I remembered with warmth how well we had had got on back then and I looked forward to seeing him now and perhaps sharing some early memories of different times.
The visit involved the long drive to Jerusalem in heavy traffic and I had plenty of time to prepare a good greeting and run through some of the things we had done together all those years ago. Would we recognize each other straight off? Or would we have to be re-introduced? 40 years is a long time. Have I changed? I’m certainly 40 years older, my hair style has changed, er, gone, and I have put on a bit of weight, meaning I was terribly thin back then, not overweight now.
We arrived and walked into the room. I saw him and I felt my jaw slacken momentarily before it dropped and hit the floor. That old guy slumped in the chair over by the window is my friend? I can’t believe it! His hair is white and that long white beard? He stood up – wow, look how bent he is! Why are his eyes so bloodshot? We stammered greetings to each other and shook hands. Where is that firm handshake of his that I remember so well? Why is he talking in a hoarse whisper?
We hugged for an instant and clapped each other on the back. This man isn’t my old friend!
What did he think of me?