He said "You saved my life!" And explained that he was about to go to the smoke shop up the street and lay into one of the customers, who had made him mad. And joked, would I visit him in jail? I don't know even yet if he meant it or not. I told him I had just bought a backpack for hiking and he asked when I would be hiking again and I said today. He asked if he could join me and I said sure.
We went to the camera store and to my car and went off to San Simeon State Park, where the trail is. Along the 3.5-mile trek we talked a lot. I reacted as openly as I was able to Ron. He tends to be a little paranoid and susceptible to sudden bursts of anger and when he mentioned some of these times when he had reacted that way I suggested that maybe he wasn't seeing things clearly and that it is good to let some things go, not harbor grudges. THat was part of it, anyway.
He talked frequently about paragliding, his current favorite activity, comparing the flight of birds with how he'd take to the wind. And we talked about how people tend to put him down. I suggested that they may do so because in a way he invites it. He puts himself down so much that people get into it and join him, in a way. I told him that I used to do this and that my friend Ray said once that he liked me but that I could talk him out of it. It was a turning point for me, I said.
The hike went well. It was beautiful and long enough and not too long. I took several pictures. Ron might have thought I was ignoring him when in the middle of one of his sentences I would pull out my camera and shoot something. It could seem like I was not listening but I was. I was also looking, though.
We laughed and joked and it seemed fine, anyway. We drove back from there, and on highway 1, headed toward SLO, there were two vans in the two lanes ahead of me that were driving almost side by side. Stupid driving, really. Ron took it for something sinister, though. He started freaking out, was worried that something dangerous was going to happen, said if he were driving he would pull over, and put his arms up in front of his face, was very fearful.
I admit I wasn't that sympathetic. I tried to get him to explain exactly what he was afraid of. I insisted,even, saying, "Tell me specifically what you are afraid will happen." He didn't. Just said I didn't understand. And then he thought I was driving too close to the car in front of me and he started getting freaked again. I pulled back a little but I know I was driving safely. I kept asking him to define his fears more. I must be a demon sometimes, at least to some people.
Finally, we pulled up in front of his car so I could let him out. And he said, finally, that in the future if we meet on the street let's just say hi - he does not want to do anything with me ever again. I said okay, fine, and followed with a few observations, like "You may find I am a better friend than you think I am," and "You want others to understand you, but you haven't done that much to understand me. It's a two-way street." and that was about that. So he's out of my life. I can't help but feel relief, because he is definitely given to crazy outbursts and self-centered attention-getting. He has had problems with his memory and his ability to listen for quite some time now.
What I wonder is why is this the type of friend I make out there on the street?