Tag Archives: friends

The Fallacy of Time Lost for True Friends

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I have recently experienced the privilege of reconnecting with a friend I have known since my eyes could first process images. From the moment I was aware of other humans in my space, I was aware of him. Inseparable as twins, our minds seemed to work as one. The very definition of attachment, we donned diapers and danced to the sounds of blissful innocence.

We were a team built from constant exposure, shared space, and common ground. We walked through the world for the first time, investigating our surroundings with fresh eyes and clean slates. Like brothers, we spent endless hours lost in conversations far deeper than childhood superficiality should produce. It was a bond forged from the structure of the nest, warmth of the heart, and a particular sense of security that seems to disappear far too soon.

Then, an unforeseen incident positioned him back on my radar, light brightly blinking. A moment of dread followed disbelief, and feeling too far to help was like being shackled in the sand. My “brother” was suddenly walking down roads that were far too familiar. To think that someone so close could be so close to peril was alarming. I wanted to erase his pain, and picturing the panic circles spinning through his mind made things exponentially worse.

To hear that I was unconsciously giving him the support he needed when he required it most, is a gift without words.

There are times our paths are righted and our journeys realign. It is not our job to question the reasons but to embrace the adjusted course. If this moment of crisis is the catalyst to shake some sense back into our disconnected lives, I am grateful for the rattle.

Adolescence Interrupted

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Brotherhood

Monkey HuddleI’m one of the lucky ones.

I may not have found the perfect partner or landed the dream job. I don’t have a personal relationship with my tailor and there are no smiling toddlers belted into the back of a BMW. I don’t take exotic vacations to places where people see their feet underwater, and the odds of anything even remotely resembling a storybook ending to this narrative dwindle further with every passing year.

But, I wouldn’t trade what I have for three rubs on a genie’s lamp. The bonds that have been built within my core collective are stronger and more resilient than Hollywood’s latest, feeble attempt at “friend fiction.”

There is a carbyne foundation supporting the weight and lifting the shoulders of men I’ve known for almost half my life. We made our introductions in the east, and then settled with the sun. A universal breeze could have easily blown us all just slightly off the mark. But fate dictated that our subconscious lassos landed on complementary cattle.

Regardless of the days spent apart or the interference of squabbling schedules, we never fail to come together in time with the beat, toe-tapping our way to the next wild theory, social observation, or wordplay marathon. The rare balance of unconditional support, unwavering loyalty, and relentless vulnerability makes for an exclusive club. We don’t expect you to understand, and we’re not asking you to join.

But, I am beyond grateful every day that I landed in Ithaca and found a counterpart who, in turn, led me to the missing pieces of my complicated puzzle. I would be a fractured shell, searching for connection and purpose without the lacquer and love of my “brothers.”

Thank you, gentlemen, for every moment passed and each minute waiting to surface.

The Dishonest Mirror

mirror2Our personal, clouded perceptions of the truth can leave us feeling less worthy, attractive, or capable than our projected selves. This negativity sets wobbly wheels in motion, and the small spark of an idea quickly becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy of inadequacy.

How many times have you looked at a picture or a video and found yourself almost unrecognizable? The energy and natural confidence we emanate during even the most casual settings has more power and influence than any static snapshot or passing reflection. There’s magnetism in the moment, and our trapped brains, locked behind bars of doubt and indecision, are no match for our instinctive willingness to shine.

This juxtaposition of worlds has been on my mind a lot lately. I’ve lost a tremendous amount of confidence in the last couple of years. Job insecurity, a difficult relationship, and a general sense of arriving late to catch the last train have all combined to take a healthy hack out of my spirit. So much time and energy have been spent taking a step outside of myself, evaluating my station, and plotting a strategy. Trading hope for survival, an easy smile lost its lease to a clenched jaw.

But, this last week provided more laughs and tears than a “Marley & Me” marathon, and I realized that I still had healthy reserves left to give to the people who make my world spin.

Sending our best friend to San Francisco was no easy task. Memories saturated every conversation, and accepting that someone who holds a crucial spot as a collective support beam is no longer going to be walking in to a birthday gathering, strumming his guitar at every opportunity, or staring at me across the net was a grain grinding realization.

But, these bonding days and nights not only reignited the fire of our inner circle, they lit the fuse inside of my dormant core. I think we all woke up to the fact that our sunsets are numbered and life’s trains can travel unexpected tracks.

I guess the hardest learned lessons have to follow some tough teaching.

Saying Goodbye

balloon1At this point, it’s probably pretty obvious that I’m not a big fan of saying goodbye to the constants in my world. Chasing an elusive dream of stasis has proved disappointing and disheartening, and this latest realization has added another slap to an already-bruised face.

I have built a core group of friends that I can say without hesitation is the most supportive, open, caring, and genuine collection of males you will ever find in our modern, self-obsessed, and apathetic society. These men have been in my life for the last 12-17 years, and we are a circle that has defied all male stereotypes, rejecting the notion of “bros,” eschewing emotional safeguarding, and almost always choosing hugs over handshakes.

We have been an intricate and intimate puzzle with interchangeable pieces, falling in and out of the picture when love, work, and commitments dictated our level of contact. We welcomed new members and did our best to embrace rookies into the fold. But, the foundation was constructed from memories and moments, and regardless of connections made later in life, there is a finite number of people who have genuine shared history.

I have been guilty of taking these relationships for granted, assuming they would always be waiting for me when needed. I wanted to believe the band would look and sound the same, regardless of time. The comfort of knowing my most valued friendships all resided in the same city was like a giant security blanket. Even when I wasn’t around it, I was still protected from the cold.

Now, a vital member of the collective is leaving. The news was a mild surprise, having known the prospect was on the table. But, the sadness and nostalgia accompanying the announcement are more than I expected. Some of my earliest and most cherished LA memories and experiences are directly credited to the bond we built and the easy alliance born from the most unexpected common ground.

Those tennis days and music nights were some of my happiest. Even when I was barely working, struggling to navigate the financial hills and (mostly) valleys of this city, he was the one person who visited me each weekend. Breaking the loneliness and monotony of those stress-heavy weeks by hitting some forehands and sharing a quick lunch meant the world to me. I don’t know if he ever knew that. I hope he does now.

People grow and change and move. Life is lived out of a box, and there are adventures waiting for this wide-eyed explorer. But, in the interest of full disclosure, I have to honor the transparency of this blog and admit that dry eyes have not accompanied this post.

Losing some comfortable life consistency is nothing compared to losing a friend.

Stealing Minutes

burglarSometimes I have to remind myself to live in the moment. Because my chosen lifestyle and profession make me think I’m stuck on a treadmill without any definable destination, there’s an inclination to believe that life will always be full of possibilities. The road will always be open and the friendships and established relationships will always exist in the same form and manner to which I’m accustomed.

This notion is utterly false.

Although I have been lucky enough to physically feel the same for the last 10 years, the clock has not remained static. The people in my life have floated in and out, teaching me lessons or satisfying some temporary void. The few, concrete alliances have grown at much the same rate and in similar fashions, further blurring the hands of time. So, a general sense of limitless deadlines has remained intact.

I’m reminded of the Billy Joel lyrics, “This is the time to remember, cause it will not last forever. These are the days to hold on to, ‘cause we won’t, although we’ll want to. This is the time. But, time is gonna change. I know we’ve got to move somehow. But I don’t want to lose you now.”

Taking a second to fully embrace the events around me—knowing that everything can change in an instant—is going to be my mission. I see most of my memories with crimson-colored spectacles, but I have the bad habit of observing the present, as opposed to living in it.

Although I’d like to think of life as a boundless stretch of open road, the reality is that the opportunities to accomplish my dreams or savor shared experiences do not live in a vacuum. People will ultimately settle into whatever existence they’ve created for themselves, and that plan may or may not include me.

Everything happens for a reason…whether to teach us lessons or push us into particular directions. I don’t worry about a dismal future, but I know that an uncharted tomorrow will take a very different shape than the familiarity of today. That’s all part of the puzzle. The challenge is finding a better way to solve it.

Fatherless Figuring

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The only thing that I can even remotely relate to the notion of having a child is someone handing me a scalpel and asking me to perform a complex medical procedure. It’s wildly intimidating, I’m completely unqualified, and a human life is at risk.

For those of you with children, this concept probably seems absurd. You’d argue it’s the most natural, most biologically-hardwired thing in the world. You barely remember a single day before parenthood provided you with purpose, granting you a gift that made you feel alive and empowered. You were waiting, wandering without focus, until you were blessed with this tiny bundle of instant selflessness.

I get it. Well, I get the general drift. But, I just can’t seem to choke down all the Kool-Aid.

I imagine a number of factors are to blame. I’m an only child. I grew up without a father. I think the survival of the planet hinges on population reduction. Blah, blah, blah.

But, recently, I had a mini revelation. I’ve lived (for longer than I care to admit) with the general belief that serious life decisions and responsibilities are handled by adults. Grownups are experienced, knowledgable, and capable of tackling whatever unplanned catastrophes happen to surface. They can get married, buy houses, have children, organize barbecues, and generally have a damn fine time.

Well, now I’m considerably deep into this “adulthood” everyone keeps talking about, and I don’t feel I have even the simplest skill set required to navigate that world. So, since I live in a constant state of contemplation, I’ve arrived at a couple of conclusions.

1) It’s difficult to foster someone else’s childhood when you still want to revisit your own.

-Many thanks to Mom for this one. Ages 0-18 were a self-actualized dream come to life…full of wonder, hope, love, excitement, and security. Sure, there was one major bump on that perfectly-paved road, but that’s why George Hansburg made the pogo stick.

2) You can’t have a kid when you still ARE a kid.

-Obviously, this isn’t true. Every major city in America proves this thesis false on a daily basis. But, I’m referring to a state of mind. Undoubtedly, there are some who would argue I’m a 90-year-old man, living in the body of a weird, writing hermit. However, habitual handcuffs and erratic sleeping patterns aside, I watch the world with the same discerning eyes I had at 15. Maybe everyone feels like that. There’s a saying that we never realize we age until we catch a glimpse of ourselves in the mirror. Well, that may very well be the case. Regardless, these teenage peepers still see the news of impending fatherhood with the same, balanced mix of pity and terror. It’s not celebration. It’s sympathy.

But, I suppose there’s some future awakening or dormant life event waiting to flip those tables and make me one of the “normals.” Anything is possible.

For now, I’ll continue to stay in awe of these crazy youngsters and their fancy adult lives, living like an old man with a teenage heart.

RSVP + 0

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The anxiety-inducing realization that the only thing accompanying you to most social functions will be a hefty gust of wind whipping through an empty passenger’s seat is a daunting prospect. But, in a world of significant others tagging two steps behind to every conceivable soirée and backyard barbecue, the unescorted visitor is often met with sideways glances, overcompensating high-fives, and hearty hello hugs.

But, why is that something seen as sad? We’re okay. Granted, the first few seconds from the car to the front door of the house, bar, restaurant, coffee shop, graduation ceremony, funeral, etc. are instant pulse raisers. Fight or flight takes the wheel and tries to steer us back to safety. Sometimes it’s even enough to make us call the whole thing off and dive into another Netflix Portlandia marathon. But, after the initial awkwardness, the party pieces fall into place and everyone settles into a communal space. There was a reason we decided to attend. We like these people. These are friends with shared histories and they’ve seen us at our best and worst. Sure, they’re dropping off into family mode faster than flies stuck in a Raid cloud, but that doesn’t mean we’re lost on an island of misfit toys.

We’re just as funny and personable as ever. Besides, maybe the fact that we’re not spending the entire time bickering about some mundane squabble we couldn’t leave at the house, or chasing behind a two-year-old with a penchant for destroying anything at adult knee level, makes us the more desirable company. Let’s face it. Freedom packs some serious appeal, especially to those who have lost it.

So, let us embrace the solo label, wearing it like a crown of independence. We are the kings and queens of our sequestered castles.