Just back from a trip to Toronto with Neil, my best friend from high school, way back when.

First: Toronto. Go! It’s a terrific city – clean, colorful and vibrant. We hung out at the waterfront and took the ferry to Centre Island where we rode bikes and tossed a Frisbee. We also visited the Hockey Hall of Fame and Niagara Falls. Only 100 minutes from O’Hare by plane.

But the best part of being with Neil, as always – and despite the fact that he lives 800 miles away in New York (where we grew up) – was the warm and hilarious time we always have together, like two big kids let loose on the world.

What is it about old friends? The most important factor may be that they still see you as the kid you were then – and that makes you more kid-like to be with them now.

Because despite our advancing years, we still love to act like kids. As they grow older, people increasingly miss the joy and freedom of childhood. Adulthood brings burdens of responsibility and knowledge: managing a family and career, tending to aging parents, growing more acutely aware of life’s tragedies and cruelties, and advancing toward sickness and mortality.

Kids rarely have those worries. They are free to be at one with nature, with friends, with wonder, with life.

On our many trips – to Memphis to visit Graceland; Clarksdale, Miss., for the Juke Joint Festival; to Cooperstown to see the Baseball Hall of Fame and Hyde Park to tour the FDR Museum; to Montauk and Coney Island; to Door County and dozens of excursions into Manhattan to visit friends, go to shows and see the amazing sights – Neil and I always rediscover reasons to be together.

It stems from knowing each other’s families, being aware of our strengths and weaknesses (and forgiving the latter), knowing how to make the other laugh and feel better and importantly, knowing how and when to be honest.

Neil reminds me to stay cool when I get impatient. I plan our trips and help us find our way around. We share a goofy sense of fun and adventure, chatting with interesting strangers and enjoying the new, unexpected and wonderful.

We talk about everything – nothing is off base – and disagree occasionally but with respect. We reminisce about a spring day in high school driving with the top down to the New Rochelle library and belting out “Sea Cruise” when it came on the radio. “Won’t ya let me take you on a sea cruise?”

Oo-ee baby, old friends can do that for you. They keep you young and vibrant.

So pick up the phone and call that old-time bestie and feel the years peel away. It’s like being a kid all over again.

Les Jacobson

Les is a longtime Evanstonian and RoundTable writer and editor. He won a Chicago Newspaper Guild best feature story award in 1975 for a story on elderly suicide and most recently three consecutive Northern...