Par for the Course

Sunday, February 12, 2006

I hadn’t kept in touch with anyone from high school, thus it was with some surprise that I learnt recently that an old classmate of mine was involved with music through a rather prosaic message from my old bandmates. I googled his name, came up with his website and subsequently his email address. We made contact.

What followed was a quiet kind of correspondence. Polite and warm. During these emails I managed to convey the fact I now live in Paris and he told me how occasionally he would have the chance to tour in Europe and would most probably drop by to play a show. A couple of months ago, in a group email, I found out that he was playing at Instants Chavirés, a concert hall in Montreuil.

Last night was that show. I managed to drag a bunch of my drunken friends over, but really, it was for my pleasure alone. He plays guitar in a style quite close to John Fahey and it was a real delight to hear someone make a certain elegant form out of one sole acoustic guitar. Really, an undeniable pleasure. Both of us had plans afterwards so we agreed to meet up today.

What I remember about Harris: his exploding hair, his burnt Milli Vanilli tape, slamming each other into our lockers (I think we once had a locker side by side), and that I shared creative writing class with him. Harris was a bundle of energy, played in a punk outfit called Mudfish, and frankly, that’s about all I remember.

So there he was again, my high school friend, playing in front of an audience in Paris, playing well enough to cast a spell over the crowd, and looking almost exactly the same as how I remembered him. He hasn’t really changed physically.

He came over this afternoon, just as I popped out of the shower, and we had some tea to nurse our hangovers.

And that’s when we started to really talk… what we did after high school, what choices we made, how we saw people around us change, what it was like to be and work as an artist, to be and work as people, opinions, ideas, a lot of interesting parallels. Before leaving I broached the subject as to when we would realise we were adults. He said, “I think you just wake up one day in the morning, look in the mirror and realise things have changed.” For example, one day, if I had a cleaning lady and a job that required me to wear a suit, I would just look in the mirror and realise something had changed.

But we weren’t really talking about becoming adults. We are adults. We were talking about a certain freedom of spirit, a certain hope, that hasn’t yet perished. I thought to myself, well, if I’ve managed to hold onto this spirit into my thirties, it can’t be all that bad. And, I do feel like a certain line has been crossed, that I like, that keeps me away from the dullness of eyes. It’s strange to recognize in someone else, to see the same curiousness and sensitivity in someone else’s eyes that you recognize as youth.

As we walked out the light was a changing blue, right before the sun drops out. I thought to myself, as we walked down the alleyway, what could happen in the next fourteen years since these last fourteen have passed in a wink of an eye. Perhaps the sensation of compression in time is what is most striking in our encounter since neither of us has seen each other in such a long time. And yet, walking down these steps, I thought to myself, how lucky we both are, to have gone through a certain phase, parallel in fact, and come out fairly intact. And who would have guessed, fourteen years later, that he would be the only one I would be in contact with, that I would feel kindred with. How wonderful in fact.