My youngest daughters favorite song right now is Fast Car by Tracie Chapman. If we go anywhere that takes more than 5 minutes to get to that song will always be played. I wonder if she knows that song was played about 40 times in a car that was driven way too fast by a friend of mine while we were getting lost in high school trying to find a basketball game in a town far away. My wife and I barely knew each other back then, but we both sat in the back seat praying we would get to where we were going in one piece. Each time I hear that song, I think about that car ride. I get those little butterflies in my stomach thinking about how fast we were going and also wondering if I knew back then that the pretty girl sitting next to me would one day be my wife and mother to my two beautiful girls.
This past weekend we had a birthday party for all my friends turning 40 with January birthday’s. We are in that time now, where there will be a 40th birthday every couple of weeks. So, they decided to just take all the January birthdays and do one party. Mine just happens to be in January so I guess this was for me, even though I told my wife I didn’t want anything for my 40th. But, it was a great excuse to get together, so for that, I am thankful. The best part, was that 75% of the people at this party I actually graduated high school with.
No, we don’t all live in the same town. No, we don’t all go to the local watering hole every Friday night and talk about old memories. No, we didn’t all marry each other and divorce each other and all that. Although, there is some of that for sure. I mean I married a girl I started dating in 11th grade.
There are so many of us that are still connected though. I used to call us the 90210 group, but in that show there was only 8 main characters. Our group has about 40. Probably 25 guys and 15 girls if I was guessing. We would kick the shit out of those 90210 kids, well, a few of them would, I would just stand next to my toughest friend and pretend I was as tough as him. I guess maybe Luke Perry could have taken a few of us, but that’s cause he was like 30 pretending to be in high school.
Like every group, we have gone through lots of drama. But, that’s what happens when you are in your formative years. We were all growing up together. So, there was plenty of hurt feelings and tears. But, now we are all almost 40 years old. We made it thru all of that. And, for the most part, we did it together. So, getting together for a birthday party or a wedding or whatever occasion and you see that face maybe you haven’t seen in a year or so you can’t help but smile. There’s less handshakes and lots more hugs now when we see each other.
My brother, who is a little over a year younger than me was at this birthday party and we were talking. He was saying “is that XXXX? Holy Shit” and I would reply, yeah, I was with them a couple weeks ago at something. Or someone would come over to us and I wouldn’t have to introduce my brother. They all know him, because they know me. My brother would say, “So and so is good people” and I would say “yeah, that’s why they are my friend”.
I’m on a group text chat with 15 of those guys right now. It gets started usually every Friday night when most of us are sitting on our own couches watching a game and feel like connecting. We send a few dirty jokes and make fun of whoever is the weakest at the time. Sometimes it turns on me and it is brutal, but awesome at the same time. Or, I can text a friend of mine after hearing an old song and ask her if she still cries every time she hears it like she did when she was 17 year old. And we exchange a few laughs about it. I love that I’m still able to have those type of connections.
I go to the high school basketball game because my daughter is on the dance team that is coached by our high school friend. And I watch the team play, that is coached by another high school friend, and assisted by another high school friend. And I run into the little brother of another high school friend. And all I can do is smile and laugh while sitting next to my high school sweetheart.
I walked down to the new fields in town and I see my buddy coaching his kids in lacrosse with other buddies kids on other teams.
I don’t understand it at all. I was under the impression I would meet my life long friends sometime in college or maybe even after. I never expected to be at a 40th birthday party with people I played backyard baseball with at 8 years old. But, I love it. I’ve got so many stories to tell about this group of people. Lots of them I’m waiting for the statute of limitations to run out on before I can publish.
What is it that brought such a random group of people together? I actually do give credit to one of my friends for bringing us all together back in high school. He was a dumb football player, but he got along with everyone. He didn’t treat you different because you played soccer, or were a nerd, or were in the band. He liked talking and hanging out with everyone so we all kind of all ended up at the same parties. He wasn’t this “woke” person, he was just a good soul. And those type of people attract other good people.
What is it that keeps us together? Maybe we all suck at making new friends…or maybe we just got lucky and found our life long friends so early in life that we got a chance to really build something together. We know all the secrets. We are “us” when we with these people. Doesn’t matter when you meet your tribe, doesn’t have to be a certain time in your life. It just has to be the right people.
We celebrate with each other and we mourn with each other. A wedding is never “small” with us. A funeral or a wake is never felt alone. We decided a long time ago to do this life together in whatever ways we can.
Now that we are older, there’s a lot more “love ya’s” when we are hugging bye. Parties and events used to be nice excuses to have a few drinks, but now it’s much more about seeing a few of the people that you haven’t seen in a little bit. It’s an excuse to refuel your soul a little. Remembering who you are, and who you were. Because those people helped you become whatever you are.
One night a few buddies were talking about winning the lottery and what you would do. A few of us said the standard stuff, buy a house on an island, hell maybe even buy an island. But, one of my buddies then said he’d build a fence around his house. We asked him why would he stay here and he said “I already live where I love, surrounded by my family and friends, why would I move” and I think that is the perfect way to describe us.
There’s a million places to go and people to be with, but we choose to surround ourselves with the people we grew up with. The people who “know you” in the truest sense of the word. There’s something special in that. Most people are lucky in their lives to have a few good friends. A few people you can count on. We aren’t like that at all. Although your circle might grow as you age, it grows with only the best people because of the foundation we built with each other as kids.
As I always say, I’m the luckiest guy I know. I don’t know what I ever did to deserve the tribe I have. This life is short. I got maybe 40 summers left to live if I am lucky. I’m just glad I get to spend them with people who remember me when I had beautiful hair on my 140 lb frame.
Categories: Adventures of Me