You’re it!

He’d been in the pool for all of 5 min before I heard him yell out “you’re it!” which means either he or the other kids had said “Want to be friends?”

It will never cease to amaze me how fast and easy kids can make “friends”. When then do we lose that gift? As I’ve gotten older it has definitely become harder to make friends. Are my expectations too high? Or are they too low, and so I sabotage any friendship before it has any chance of growing into anything better.

I look at when I made friends: elementary school, if it wasn’t for facebook I don’t think I would speak to any of them. (I suppose I don’t really speak to them). Middle School/Jr. High I went to a school other than my homeschool so I think that may have hindered communication with some of the grade school friends. Would that be different now in the age of texting and IM’ing? High School for one reason or another I ended up going to 4 different schools. I speak to only one person from middle/jr  and only a couple of people from high school are actually part of my life again if not for FB. Even those people are mostly linked to my wife (whom I met in high school).

The next chapter in my life was the military. I spent xx years in the Marine Corps and I made bonds with people that I know will be actually part of my life forever. Each bond stronger than the last. From training to actual combat. I can remember meeting each of those people and what they meant and how they got me through those tough days and the of course the tough days that follow an enlistment.

After the Marine Corps I didn’t think I’d make friends again. I then joined a group of athletes that showed me I couldn’t be more wrong. I remember the first few days and probably weeks and months it took for me to open up to them. I felt they’d never understand me. They do understand, and surprisingly enough I understand them. As I write these words I come to the realization that it’s been 4 years since I met those folks and I haven’t made any real friends since then. So again, why do we or I refuse to make these connections. Certainly I’ve met people in the last 4 years, right? Yet none really important as all those previously mentioned. (One that comes close I feel close to only because his name and everything about him reminds me of a friends that is very sadly no longer just a phone call away.)

Just as the “you’re it!” earlier made me take a look at friendship and the part it’s played in my life. His goodbye gave me some more insight. “OK bye” and then he walked my way. “I made a friend dad” he exclaimed. Before we even made it to the elevator he had moved on. So I guess there’s just no pressure when we’re young because we haven’t dealt with loss yet. As I’ve grown older I guess I’m done wanting to invest too much of myself in someone I might lose. I will continue to treasure those in my very small circle of friends. All the while hoping it was still OK as adults to say “Want to be friends?”

 

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#projectreflect12 ~ December 3, 2012: I’m Glad We Met

December 3: I’m Glad We Met

People come and go from our lives. Some people stay for the long run, but some stay for a short period of time and leave us when we’re most vulnerable. Have you met anyone this year that changed your life forever? Did you rekindle a friendship/relationship this year that you thought had died long ago?

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I turned 31 one this year. For my 31st birthday I had to work. I had told myself that since I did not do the crazy 21st birthday I would get a redo on my 31st. Yet 10 years later my life is completely different than it was when I turned 21. A pretty crazy, amazing, turbulent and memorable decade has sped by.

This year as I fell asleep the night of my birthday I felt a sense of peace I hadn’t felt for a very long time. For one I woke up and quickly heard my wife wish me a happy birthday followed shortly after by my son also wishing me a great day. I have to say my commute to work was pretty great but nothing compared to my commute home. 

I’d been using public transporation for about a month at that point. I’d been out of work for so long that we decided as a family that it was not worth the trouble or money to maintain two cars as the cost of maintenace and insurance far outweighed the benefit of a second vehicle. Here we are 10 months later and I can make some great points as to why that has to change this upcoming year but for now I’m grateful I was on the train on Valentine’s Day 2012. 

My day at work was fine and flew by because of my anticipation of dinner with my wife and son. I walked to the bus that would take me to the metrolink station. In a short few weeks it had become routine and I’d been observing the regulars and their little pre ride routines. This day I noticed a pair of children playing on the bridge above the train tracks. I clearly remember startling them as I towered over them when the elevator doors opened. I rode the elevator down and that’s when I met her. Rhonda.

I watched for a few minutes the joy on her face as she watched her children play high abover her. I apologized to her and told her that I had frightened her children. She laughed at the idea and said they deserved it for giving her mother such a hard time. We waited for the train together for a few minute but I can honestly say that it felt like we’ve know each other forever. The kids rushed down the stairwell to say bye because they’d seen the train approaching.

We boarded the train and our conversation continued as naturally as could be. She told me more about her family and of her meeting her husband for a Valentine’s Day concert and I shared with her about my crazy adventures of endurance racing and fundraising. I could tell the more we talked and the farther we got from her children though that although there was happiness in her that there was also a deep pain. I knew why but only because I’d seen those sad eyes on others I’ve seen stricken by this unbiased disease.

Before we parted we’d exchanged information and I knew then I’d keep in touch and keep her in my thoughts and I’d be begging she made it through the trying times ahead. A long and grueling process was ahead for her and I would hear on and off from her at least about once a week. I marked on my calendar when her treatments were and when the big surgery day would be and I reached out with what I hope would be words of encouragement for her.

What I truly wish I could have conveyed is that she, in the few heartfelt minutes we shared on that train, made an incredible difference in my life. That very night I was inspired to help a fellow father that for one reason or another was having a diffucult time at the register of the little mexican place I chose for dinner as to avoid the long lines and wait times every where else would have on Februrary 14th. He was grateful as I had been to meet her and I was glad to have shared so much with her this year even from afar.

In the grand scheme of things I’ve only know her or of her for a very short time. Yet I can’t/won’t ever grow tired of saying I’m Very Glad We Met! As I write this my wife reminded me that it had been some time since I heard from her and that too is OK.