For months now, my old friend Jeff has been inviting me to Tuesday night trivia at Ballydoyle, and Irish pub, in downtown Aurora.
And by "months" I mean months; as in, I think it was a year or more ago that the invitations started. It was just never convenient! And I'll be honest: it's still not convenient. I got home far too late and I'm convinced I'm actually asleep as I write this, but the whole point is ...
It was so worth it.
I arrived at Ballydoyle and was almost immediately enveloped into a hug from DJ. He and I met in Spanish class at Waubonsee Community College. We lost touch years ago, when I was married and just didn't have my shit together. DJ is now the superintendent of schools in Lockport, IL, not far from my job in Joliet. Weird how things sorta realign over time.
Of course Jeff was there, too, and he was acting as host for the evening. He was my editor on the paper when we were at Insight, and my neighbor when we transferred to Eastern. He found me on Facebook awhile back, and I think it's safe to say that even after a lot of time has passed, I love this guy. In some ways, I went off the grid after college. In some ways it was necessary; I needed to get my shit together and figure out how to be on my own. But in others - namely the "I found the man I'm going to spend the rest of my life with" part - I screwed up royally. I let go of friendships and connections that were my lifeline, and I did so willingly. Jeff was one of the people I lost, and I'm so glad he found me again. Earlier this summer, we had the occasion to visit for a few minutes during a town festival. And last night, seated next to him and DJ in an Irish pub in Aurora, it felt like the years just melted away. It mattered. Our shared history mattered.
At the helm of trivia last night was our mutual friend Brett, who was also a Waubonsee grad and an EIU alum. The four of us - the Dream Team, as it were - were joined by Brett's brother Rory, who is (God help me) a firefighter in a nearby town, and Brett's friend Bob, who is funny and awesome. It was like old times with old friends - some of whom only just met - as we sat, contemplated the trivia questions and drank a few pints of Guinness.
In a word, it was awesome. We laughed hysterically at each other, we talked each other right on out of correct answers, and we had a blast. And, we tied for first place! I couldn't have asked for a better night. Three old friends, seated around a table, with two new friends joining the fold, and one of the old crew running the show. Yes, this is what living a good life looks like.