I walked through the forest with another boy from my tribe. We were looking for food and drink but mostly we hoped for adventure. We never expected to find a new friend among the trees. He was smiling when he greeted us and we talked for a while about the things we’d seen and done, we compared scars as all boys do.
We decided to share our fire with this new friend. We led him back with us and along the way found food and drink. We even managed to get some wine to relax us.
As we sat around the fire staring into it, listening to the sounds it made, we talked more about the adventures behind us and about what was to come. We talked about people we had met and how they had impacted us. The wine was good, and the food delicious.
Truly it was a great moment. A moment of zen. A moment that had been shared a billion times by members of our race since eons long forgotten. But everything was not as it seemed. This was an experience that pierced deep into human history and memory; boys sharing food and fire, and talking about the world and the journey of their existence.
Only as I looked up, the crackling fire we were all staring at had been replaced with a laptop softly playing music videos. I smiled. The function was the same. Something for us all to sit around and direct our attention at. The food and drink had improved somewhat. The wine was imported from a thousand miles away and cost only an hour’s worth of work to buy. The food was markouts from work, a free sack-full of delicious overpriced snacks. And the forest had been the city. The boy we met outside a cafe with a long night full of time to kill before a flight to a new adventure, looking for human connections and a bit of the life we’ve lost as we built this world of ours.
When the food and drink were gone and the music ran out, it was time for him to go. As I dropped him off for his flight to Chicago, he hugged me. I felt surprise at first, but then I realized that even though this was the first time we’d ever hung out, the connection we had built was an older thing. Steeped in the human spirit. Steeped in brotherhood and the desire we all have to love and be loved, without precondition. This perfect friend I had made who I would never see again, spoke more in silence than most people did in volumes.
I hugged back, and then he was gone.