Thursday, September 3, 2015

Lessons from the Road, part three

Always know who - and where - your friends are

Backtracking in the chronology here just a little bit, that first night in St. Lou, I made a travel faux pas. I did not let everyone know where I was going. So cue the surprise when, the next morning, I discovered that my friends Biff and Amanda were there, too.

In the exact same little boutique hotel off the beaten path.

Of course, we were all on the road again before we realized we could've connected, had cocktails or breakfast or whatever. I mean, what are the chances? It's 9 a.m. or so and I get this text from Biff. Why did you just post a photo of Moonrise Hotel? Um, dumbass, because that's where I am? Sure enough, a missed opportunity.

What the heck are the chances of that?

So it got me to thinkin' ... sometimes you don't know where your friends are. Not that you should keep tabs on 'em or anything - that would be creepy - but it's interesting to think about the number of near-misses you have as you meander through life.

More importantly, though, you have to know who your friends are. You need to know who's in the tribe, who has your back, who will take to the grave your secrets, who will lock your Facebook account right the hell down in the event of your untimely death. You don't need a lot of these people - a scant handful will do - but you need them. People to whom you can bare your soul, and who will bare theirs right back for you. It matters, ya know, and you deserve them.

They deserve you.

Biff and Amanda have been in my life from way back - back to the old theater days. Biff is the brother of Polly, who is (see if you can follow this) the mother of my godson, a former sharer of the stage and a freakin' hoot in her own right. We've been in touch on and off over the years, and while Polly and family moved out east a few years back, Biff and Amanda are down in Bloomington - close enough for a weekend trip now and then. I remember thinking as we passed through the area that I should text them, just to say hi. Listen to your gut, Margaret. It rarely steers you wrong. But I digress ...

On the subject of friends, it's fair to note that while I have some who have been in my life for a very very long time, a few of my dearest are the ones I met in college. One of the greatest lessons I learned at EIU was that to make friends, you simply had to be a good friend. I discovered that the simplest of acts connected us back then, and keep us connected today. Sharing a beer, loaning a car, tossing a Frisbee, playing Marco Polo in the stacks of the library ... all those things led me to expand my tribe, and I found myself hoping that Alex would discover his own while he's in college, too.

Because college is as much about finding you and yours as it is about academics. We should all be so lucky as to get a degree in Finding Good People. I'd graduate with honors.

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