Growing up in Somerset, New Jersey, I had a good friend who lived across the street from my house. We did a lot of stuff together. I’d go over to his house to play; he’d come over to my house. Beginning in kindergarten, we’d walk to school together. I can remember discussing astronomy with him when I was in first grade. Sometimes, in the late afternoons, we’d be hanging around his driveway when his dad would get home from work. His car would pull into the driveway, he’d get out, see us, and say “Hey fellas!” My young self always thought that was the coolest thing in the world–to be called a “fella” sounded very grown up to me.
One afternoon, my mom woke me from my nap with some sad news. This I can remember as if it happened yesterday. My bed was along the wall of my room that ran through the center of the house. On the other side of that wall was my parent’s room. Behind me was a window facing the front of the house and through that window, I could look across the street to see my friend’s house. I don’t know that remember seeing anything unusual outside the window that day, but after waking me from my nap, my mom told me that my friend’s dad, the one who’d called me “fella” had died.
Some time later, I was at my friend’s house. My family was going to be moving to Rhode Island and I was hanging out in my friend’s room. He put on a 45 of Super Tramp’s “Take the Long Way Home.” Ever since, that song has reminded me of those last days in New Jersey, hanging out with my friend, and of his dad, who would get home from work, smile, wave, say, “Hey fellas!”