Distant Past

The other night as I was falling asleep I was thinking about my childhood friends. Whatever became of them. In particular I was wondering about my childhood friend Ryan. I wish I could remember his last name. We were very close, but only for a very short time. His father was a pilot who died very suddenly in an aircraft accident. He and his mother Phyllis moved away not long after. They were originally from Oklahoma, but his father's job took them to our little condo development in south Jersey (brick town).

My grandmother lived on Primrose Lane in Briar Mills Village South. I spent much of my childhood there playing with the other kids whose families lived in the neighborhood. Chris Amato. Johnny Freehof. Mario Zuzzio and her sisters. Travis Johnston. To name a few. There were many others. There were always lots and lots of children on the block.

I was close with several during varying periods of time, but Ryan stands out in my memory lately. Gosh, I wish I could remember his last name. He was different from the other kids. He was honest and unpretentious and completely without malice. And I'm no doubt, remembering him more saintly than he actually was, but he never made me feel bad. I was always happy to be around him and glad to know him.

And when his father died in that accident and he confided in me that he was supposed to have been there with him up in that plane I was honored and confused and hysterical. I think he was the first boy I ever loved. It was that absolute first, truly innocent love untainted by sexuality.

I was sad when his mother moved him away. His mother was a pretty young woman named Phyllis. I knew she did what she had to for herself and her son, but it was no fun being the one left behind. I wonder if he missed me. If he ever thinks about those two little kids who used to play together. How close they got before circumstance intervened.

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