What was your biggest personal disappointment of 2012?
Maybe not a good thing to dwell on, but for me 2012 was the year I realized that my efforts to reconnect with a childhood friend just weren't going to pay off.
We'd met in the third grade, were terrific pals through the fifth grade, then stayed in close touch until we were both 13, when my family moved away. Even then, we had some sporadic contact, the last of it when I was about 18. As people, we were very different- even as a kid, he was conservative, and his family had conveniences mine didn't, such as a live-in maid. Yet we knew how to have fun together, building tree houses, riding bicycles and sneaking out of the house at 3 a.m. to appreciate the incredible, cold stillness of the hour. One year just before Christmas, we spend the day cutting mistletoe off of oak trees, collecting red pyracantha berries and making wreaths that we brought to the doorsteps of his neighbors, where we'd ring the doorbells, then run off.
For years, I imagined getting back in touch. He isn’t a Facebook sort of person. Eventually, I located his sister, who provided his email address. He said it was remarkable to hear from me, and we exchanged some short emails, with him always saying he'd write more when he had the opportunity. Then he simply stopped responding.
I hadn’t expected that we'd become best friends again, and I knew there was a good chance that our different political views and class backgrounds would be more of an issue than they had been when we were kids. But still, it stung when I realized he'd chosen to drop out of sight. I'd tried to reconnect with other people before this, without success, but not with anyone who had been such a close friend. When he fell silent, it seemed cowardly.
We're both in our fifties now. I understood that implicit requirement of explaining his entire adult life to someone who was now virtually a stranger might be a lot to ask. I wondered if I’d said something he took offense to, although I couldn’t imagine what it was. I wondered if his silence was more of the supercilious nonsense I remembered him being schooled in. I wondered if there were serious problems in his life I knew nothing about.
But I could only speculate. I guessed, and I tied not to think about it. I remember him as a marvelous person, and every year around this time, I remember the day we made and delivered those mistletoe wreaths. That was among the very best days I’ve known, and despite the disappointment, I'm thankful for the memories.