If life teaches you one thing, it is to let go. This thing might be the hardest thing, but the most necessary.

Letting go is not in our nature. At least not mine. I expect a car to last our lifetime and that of our children. Same with large appliances. If I had my way, cellphones would go on forever too but those are programmed to burn out like supernovas.

I'm especially bad with people. Family. Friends. In this case, Harry, otherwise known as the Big Norwegian.

No one died. We should be thankful. That’s almost worse than having your cellphone quit.

However, there is something about someone moving that has the same finality. The same sense of permanence. The same feeling of separation.

I’m not the only one given to goodbye melodrama. When Harry told another friend he was moving to Sacramento, his friend’s response was: “I’ll probably never see you again.”

He didn’t say, “until the funeral, either yours or mine,” but he was probably thinking it because I’ve thought the same thing about other friends, usually when they move out of state. If they move out of the country, I already have them in the ground with a headstone that reads, “And you thought you were going somewhere.”


There is nothing better than a friend who makes you laugh. Consistently makes you laugh. Consistently as in daily.

Laugh unpredictably. At moments when you least expect it, least expect it and most need it.

That's not saying much, though. When don't we need to laugh? When are we not refreshed by doing so? I can't think of a time, a place or an experience that is not enriched by the kind of laughter that makes you throw your head back, or bow it, show every filling in your mouth and laugh so hard you break into a red pepper-sweat.

That can happen on the phone, and does, but laughing in person is usually better.

The Big Norwegian is selling his house and moving to Sacramento. What’s there other than a good wife, an exciting job and the possibility of a brilliant new chapter? What could he possibly be thinking?

About 10 years ago, we started Men's Night with a few other friends. Our kids were mostly out of the house, mostly grown, and if they weren’t, they were mostly interested in being with their own kind.

Every six or eight weeks, we'd get together at somebody else's house, cook some steaks or pasta, drink some wine, talk and laugh. No TV unless there was a big game because TV can get in the way.

Once a month, Harry and I would strap the paddle boards on top of the car and head for Ventura for a morning of surfing. Besides the sandwiches and conversation, nothing made either one of us happier than seeing the other guy get tossed off his board and do a faceplant in the water.

Darn that was fun and I knew it wasn't going to last but, like most people, I pretended it would.

A few nights ago, amidst stacks of moving boxes, we had one last Men’s Night at his house. I started to give a somewhat maudlin toast but thankfully was shouted down by one of the guys who said, “It’s not like he’s dying or anything.”

Rather than drive everybody to tears that they had no intention of shedding I sat down, refilled my glass and recommitted myself to growing up, something that heretofore hasn’t worked very well.

At the end of the evening, a few of us ended up in the sitting room, the one with the surfboards hanging on the wall. For 20 minutes, we laughed like we had never laughed before. We laughed so hard it was as if we had melted away together.

Letting go is a necessary skill and I will let go of everything but the melting. You go, that stays.

Contact The Californian’s Herb Benham at 661-395-7279 or hbenham@bakersfield.com. His column appears on Sundays, Tuesdays and Fridays; the views expressed are his own.

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