On a lark, I dragged out the old Kodak Carousel slide projector to see if the projection bulb still worked. It didn’t, so I replaced it with one of the few spares still squirreled away. With the fresh bulb in place, why not drop in a carousel tray or two? After all, a cold February evening is ideal for some nostalgia.
One of the trays contains Ektachrome slides I had snapped of relatives and close friends. Many of whom had passed away long ago. Perhaps a third of them are still alive but live hundreds or thousands of miles away. So, I extended the trusty old projection screen; placed the slide projector on a step-stool; flipped the power switch; and adjusted the focus. As I advanced through the tray, images of several buddies filled the large screen with light and smiles.
I felt glad that the friends had been willing and eager to pose for some of my experimental portraits. There were shots of pals sipping beers. Others were tossing Frisbees or being chased by their dogs. Some of them were celebrating their birthdays and two of them thrilled about being promoted at their jobs.
I lingered longer at the slides of my old room mates. There were several of Doug when we shared an aging trailer house at the radio station in Wayne, Nebraska. We later moved to a yellow Quonset hut across the street from the Wayne baseball field. We used to enjoy prime seating for Wayne Midget and Legion team baseball games without having to leave our yard. Doug loved to ham it up for the camera, so there are several goofy shots of him in the carousel tray.
Doug was not only a friend and room mate, he was also a coworker. That means we saw a lot of each other. Although we were nearly always together, I only recall having one minor quarrel with him. It was something trivial and we settled the misunderstanding within a few hours.
I remembered some other coworkers and mutual friends, but I do not have their images on slides, they were photographed on conventional Kodacolor print film. Their pictures are filed away in albums and envelopes. I’ve shared a few of them on previous blog posts. There are also two friends who hated being photographed so I don’t have any good pictures of them as I saw them in regular settings.
I have a few Polaroid snapshots of my camera shy friend, Doug, who lived in Arizona (not the room mate Doug). We dressed up as nuns for Halloween many years ago. I’m glad Doug consented to those images; otherwise, I would not have any posed shots of him at all. Doug passed away last month, so I regret not having any good photos of him.
The last dozen or so Ektachrome slides were of Ron. His close friends called him Felix; he was also known as Mark to his coworkers. We were room mates at two different apartments in Norfolk. Felix worked as a cook at one of the hospitals and could whip up tasty short-order meals and snacks at the drop of a hat. He taught me a thing or two so we could share cooking duties at home.
Felix was one of those very rare guys who walks into your life when everyone else has deserted you. He was there for me even when he would much rather be anywhere else. We gave each other total freedom to associate with whomever we wished and I felt quite lucky to have him as a pal and a room mate. Unfortunately, Ron passed away several years ago.
I’ve mentioned the value of solitude in many bluejayblog posts and those opinions still stand. However, solitude has its limits. It is through friendship and partnership that we learn to live outside of our subjective boxes. Authentic friendship gives high value to life through learning how to give and take. This is why I believe that being friends with oneself first then with another human, enable steady personal growth and life satisfaction.
As we travel down life’s path we encounter ups and downs. When we come to a beautiful vista along the way, we feel the need to share our joy with someone else. Who better to accompany us along the way than a buddy or BFF? Such friends mutually share each others’ highs and lows, which kindles our inner spirits.
A philosopher from long ago wrote something to the effect that authentic, close friendship multiplies life’s goodness and divides life’s evils. It is advisable to have friends. Even one true friend is plenty. It has been said by many wise teachers that to find one good friend in one’s life is auspicious; to keep him is a blessing.
The carousel tray of slides full of my ol’ buddies brought joy and happy memories to warm up my day. I hope you have some photographs or slides of your good friends, too. Photos of friends remind us that we’re in good company.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes Australian actor and filmmaker, Joel Edgerton. “I’m single, footloose and fancy free, I have no responsibilities, no anchors. Work, friendship and self-improvement–that’s me.”