One of the advantages of leaving home is finding out who really resonates with you long term. Of course living in our hometowns there are more than a few people that we have identified with. But, there are only a few that you can really be personable with. That’s what I call authentic relationships. There’s no shell involved, no professional hat to throw on, no filters in speech, and there are definitely some great memories that may be missed.
Seeing old friends does something to you spiritually. It makes you feel good about living and wanted to reestablish new goals for the years coming forward. Just yesterday for whatever reason I had a cancelled flight. So I decided to not wait around and took the 90 minute drive back to my residence. I was already up since the night before and by the time I got back it was eight o’clock in the morning. My functionality was completely off. There was no way around skipping naps, or going to fetch food. I WAS TIRED. Fatigue settled in and I already made up in my mind that I wasn’t going in to work. I woke up around noon, ate lunch and sat in the USO for a little while. Then I got an IM on Facebook that my old friend from Ohio State was in town. We always followed each other on Facebook, but with marriage, work, and kids it’s always hard to do.
The last time that I saw him was in our reception hall after we pinned on our gold bars upon receiving our commissions as officers. Before then, I and this guy spent numerous hours’ together training, studying, and surviving on one of the nation’s largest campuses. We would get lost driving to our Reserve Units on the weekends, work part time jobs, and tried to maintain whatever social life that we could soak up. It was quite an experience now that I look back at it. Tim was part of that group that helped me push no matter what it was. They took 24 hours in a quarter, I took 25. They ran 5 miles, I ran 6. Staying up all night prepping to train others was a no brainer. In fact, we embraced it. We knew that we wouldn’t be poor forever so it was comforting to keep pushing on. The last time I hung out with our ROTC class was two days before graduation on High Street which was called the “Senior Crawl” we walked long miles up and down High Street consuming as much alcohol as we could knowing that we would probably never be together ever again. This was in the context of beginning of the Iraq War and we knew we were going to see some things. Things we probably would never want to speak about repeatedly. We laughed, joked, and embarrassed one another all at the same time. As we went from place to place people gave us high fives, thanked us for our service, and sincere handshakes of wishing us good luck. Some of those handshakes came from Veterans that were part of the invasion. That was the culture we were inheriting and there was no way you could have told us that we would be there over a decade.
Tim was personable and we were both introverts that knew how to pull it out and assert ourselves in front of troops when warranted. We just clicked and couldn’t have been anymore opposite. He was weak, I was strong; I was brown, he was white; I was short, he was tall; I’m a Bishop and he was an atheist. Seeing him brought back some good laughs during the strains of deployment. He got to meet my unit, check out my office and we had free dinner! The tour made him feel like VIP and he thought I was a rock star being so popular in the position that I’m in. Nothing like the differences of life being changed over time having it come full circle 10k miles away. I hope that you all out there may have the same opportunity in your lives to witness the same. Five hours later….he was gone again.
All of that after a cancelled flight. There must be a God somewhere.