I cried for a good, long time. You see, Dodo, one of my best friends, and his wife are moving to Portland at the end of this month. And I was at home last night, making a going-away CD for him and I put on bunch of songs that he and I grew up with – and it got to be too much. I cried. Sarah came downstairs and cried for/with me. I cried thinking about our first year of college, this time of year 13 years ago, when I saw this dude sitting on the steps of where we both lived and saying “Holy shit, man. We graduated high school together.” And Dodo going, “We did?” And becoming best buds right then. My allergies going crazy – Doug wearing his glasses – sharing a love for Dune, Blade Runner, video games, and music, music, music. Taking walks down to Hastings and drives out to Clinton Lake to smoke and get away from school. Playing On the Edge with Fly Guy for hour upon hour. Thinking about after that first year and a half, when I moved back to KC and Doug kept at school for a bit longer, and at that time honestly thinking that I wouldn’t see Doug too much ever again and that we’d probably grow apart like Fly Guy and I did for a few years, but that didn’t happen because Doug seemed to be coming down to Olathe and hanging out more and more often with me and my new circle of friends (it was probably more the draw of abundant illicit substances, but still…). And I’m thinking about Doug in his one-bedroom studio just off-campus at KU and then him moving into the townhouse with Sam (and Doug’s 6+ year dramatic mess thereafter with that loony ass) and then Doug moving to that monster of a house that survived Quantrill’s Raid and playing Armored Core and deliving pizzas for Gumby’s (and sharing bowls behind the store while listening to Art Bell) and Doug and his dad teaching me to water ski, road-tripping to Tsali, NC for a week of mountain biking in the Smokies and all 13 years of memories just keep coming – Doug moving to Springfield with us just because he wanted a change of scenery and then moving back after a year because come to find out the scenery in Springfield wasn’t all that good and playing game after game after game of Mordheim with him and Fly and Eco and going to the strip club one Valentine’s Day with homemade cards for all the strippers and all of us winning Best Group Costume year after year and I think of all the smokes we’ve shared and all the talks about the great books we’ve been reading and what bands we’ve been listening to and me starting to date Sarah and him reconnecting with Jes not 3 months later and him proposing to her at a waterfall in Yellowstone and me doing the same with Sarah 3 months later at a waterfall in the Ozarks and helping them move into their first house and them helping us move into our first house and it all got to be just too much. It’s just about too damn much right now as I’m typing it all out.
You’re lucky to get friends like I have, let alone lucky enough to share such a huge chunk of life together. If you do get that lucky, it’s a once in a lifetime thing. I can’t really imagine making connections nowadays like those ones I forged back then, where my friends became part of my family. Those times lived through and the memories taken away are what your life becomes when you’re 90 years old and sitting on your front porch, pipe in mouth, watching the sun go down for perhaps the last time. Kinda sounds from the tone of this thing that Doug’s dying – but he’s not – he’s moving on to do something he’s always wanted to do (helicopter school). I’m just being a Debbie Downer and mourning the end of the luxury of having such a great friend in my life, so close-by, for so awfully long. If there’s one thing I wish upon Roman, other than good health and fortune, it’s good friends. I extend that wish to both Doug and Jes: good health, good fortune and, of course, good friends…for as long as you are away, however long that may be.
You need people with whom you can experience scary times and funny times and stressful times and painful times. And you need people who can embarrass you with tales about all those times at some point down the road. Your life is ultimately a story you tell yourself and others. And a life without good friends is the saddest story I can imagine.