Today’s post is (maybe?) gonna be short.
Because I’m going to D’s mom’s funeral this morning.
And I’m going to write about a short story by Stephen King (who is an author I greatly admire, but usually he scares the shit out of me…I mean…proof that he’s a great writer, I guess) and its counterpart in film. Because…this was me and D. I’m not a boy, and we came of age in the 1990s, not the 1960s, but it really was us.
If you’ve never either read The Body by Stephen King or seen the 1986 Rob Reiner movie adaptation, Stand By Me with River Phoenix and Wil Wheaton…there might be some spoilers here. And I recommend them both, even though having this story on my mind for the past week has really made me sad. For D. For us. I dunno.
Anyway, it’s a coming of age story that focuses on the close friendship between Gordie LaChance (Wil Wheaton’s character in the movie) and Chris Chambers (River Phoenix’s character) and two of their other friends (also noteworthy, amazing performances in the film…but in the story in any format…I mean…it’s clear that Gordie and Chris are best friends). Gordie and Chris have a lot in common, although maybe it doesn’t seem like they do for the casual observer. They don’t have the best family situations at home. Chris’s is WORSE than Gordie’s. Which Gordie will attest to. But Chris is the strong, protective one anyway.
That was D for me in middle school and high school. And even early college.
His life at home was not easy. In fact, one of the reasons he went so far away to school was to get far away from ‘home.’ But he was MY shoulder to cry on. He was MY person to lean on. For *years.* He was Chris.
I did write about D. He shows up in a lot of my work. For readers? There’s part of D in Josh Shepard in the Building Series. And he’s Paul Hemingway in The Transition Piece. And he’s Rory in the Unscripted Series. And there are bits and pieces of him in every good friendship I’ve written. I’m sure he’ll show up again in future work if I keep on writing.
Anyway, today feels strange, but it’s definitely my turn to be Chris for a change. So I’m going to get ready to go be there for my oldest friend while he’s having a rough time. I don’t really have any more words today, so I’m just going to use Stephen King’s from this story.
“The most important things are the hardest things to say. They are the things you get ashamed of, because words diminish them–words shrink things that seemed limitless when they were In your head to no more than living size when they’re brought out. But it’s more than that, isn’t it? The most important things lie too close to wherever your secret heart is buried, like landmarks to a treasure your enemies would love to steal away. And you may make revelations that cost you dearly only to have people look at you in a funny way, not understanding what you’ve said at all, or why you thought it was so important that you almost cried while you were saying it. That’s the worst, I think. When the secret stays locked within not for want of a teller but for want of an understanding ear.”
“It’s hard to make strangers care about the good things in your life.”
“I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was twelve. Jesus, did you?”
I didn’t. I have a few treasured friendships in my life that were made in adulthood and they are wonderful souls for whom I’m grateful every day. I have a best friend that I feel like should have ALWAYS been my best friend. And of course, I have J. Another person I wish was always in my life, every day of it. Or at least every day of adulthood. And there are days that if I didn’t have those two people, particularly J, I feel like I wouldn’t have anything good in my life. Some days feel like I couldn’t even make it THROUGH that day without them. Especially J.
But I’ve still never had another friend like D. He got me through the very real hard times before I met J. And I haven’t showed him how much that means to me in even an adequate much less appreciative way. Because I write words and words aren’t enough for that.
So I’m off to not be Gordie today. Today I’m gonna go be D’s Chris.