Jun 19, 2010

Old Friends

Sean and J Go to White Castle: It seemed the "road trip" thing to do, to stop at White Castle for lunch. Old high school friends J Carlos and Greg Wedel (taking the photo) and I took a little trip down memory lane and through the farmland of Indiana on our way to a Mumford & Son's concert this past Monday, June 14, 2010.
What does it take a friendship strong, not just for a season, but for a lifetime? Proximity is certianly helpful. My best friend J Carlos and I have been blessed by intersecting paths for the past twenty-one years, starting with when we met in Mrs. Gish's freshman Earth Science class at Forest Lake Academy. We graduated from high school together, and perhaps we might have drifted apart then, as he went to Southern College in Tennessee and I attended Andrews University in Michigan. But we decided to spend a year as student missionaries together in Micronesia. That year, followed by a summer in Europe, further cemented our friendship. But then, something truly fortuitous happened. J's parents moved away from Florida to Dayton, Ohio. With our families now living in different states it seemed unlikely we would have much opportunity for further contact. Except that, the same year that the Carlos family moved, I began dating a wonderful girl who just happened to be from. . .Dayton, Ohio. That Thanksgiving, I met Barbara's parents for the first time and stayed with the Carlos family for the holiday.

A few years later, Babs and I got married and J was in the wedding. A few days after that, J was on his way back to the mission field, where within a few years he would meet his own spouse, Evelyn. Of course, Babs and I also headed back out to the islands, and so, though we served on different islands, our paths continued to cross from time to time. Eventually, J and Evleyn moved to the mainland, to Ohio, to be near his parents. When our familymoved back last year it was to Ohio also--but not just anywhere in the state. It just so happened that I'd gotten a job in the same city--Columbus--as J was living in. And so now we live about 20 minutes apart, each raising young sons that we hope, by virtue of proximity, will become the best of friends, just like their dads.

But proximity is not the only way to preserve a friendship. I can think of at least one individual I know from high school who has also ended up living close by, but we are merely nodding acquaintances. How much more is required, then, when old friends live miles apart. For such friendships to last there must be an real effort to make those paths cross. I confess, I'm not the best at keeping in touch. I don't call, I don't e-mail, I don't even friend on Facebook! I rely heavily on proximity to keep friendships alive. Fortunately for me, Greg Wedel has done better than that. He's always put forth the effort. From time to time he'd call, just to see how things are going. He kept me supplied with new music from his ever-growing collection. He passed on book and movie recommendations. And whenever we passed through Florida, he made time to hang out. Greg seems to understand that like all relationships, friendships take work to thrive, and he's always been willing to take the iniative and make an effort. Greg's not one for a lot mucky sentimental talk, but his actions show that he understands what friendship for the long haul is all about.

So this summer Greg set out to orhcestrate an opportunity for the three of us to get together. He got us tickets to see one of his favorite new up-coming bands across the state line in Indiana. He flew up from Florida on Thursday evening, June 10, 2010, and we spent the weekend between J's house (where he was staying) and ours hanging out and catching up. Monday we set out for Indiana (an account of that trip will follow in the next entry).

Greg has a gruff demeanor that belies his gift with kids. "How's it going, little man," he'll say somberly. But kids, including our son, see right through him. They know somehow, that they've found a friend. And he gracefully obliges with swings, read-alouds, and other kid-friendly treats.

There's one more element of friendship that goes largely unspoken between the three of us. With all the trash talk and mock insults that are prone to fly between us, you might not even realize it's there. But pay close attention and you'll recognize a deep well of respect and acceptance we have for one another. The three of us are each quite different. We learned long ago that it was fruitless to try to change one another. We concluded that we would live with eachother's foilbles, focus on that which we admired in eachother, and seek, wherever possible, the common ground.

And so decades have passed and thanks to proximity, effort, and mutual respect, we are friends still.

The table set for company. On Sunday morning we had the Carlos family (J, Evelyn, and baby Benjamin) and Greg over for a Mexican themed brunch. We were pretty excited to put our new dining set to good use.

The Key lime pie (or what's left of it). On Sabbath afternoon, June 12, Greg came over for lunch and to hang out for the afternoon while the Carlos clan was away at camp meeting. Greg and I have always been partial to Key lime pie, especially from TooJay's, our favorite Jewish deli chain in Orlando. So we decided to try our hand at making our own. As evidenced by the photo above, it turned out quite well. We'd eaten half the pie before I thought to take a photo for posterity.

Good friends and good food make for good times.


Mai said...

Good friends are priceless! (ps. I love the new dinning room table set!)

Eva Suzuki said...

I really enjoyed reading your blog about life in Saipan. Carol Bolton Paez is an old friend of mine. I understand she is in Oregon now. Do you have her email address? How funny that she's in Oregon. That's where I last saw her! Did the whole family go, Tim too? Thank you. I really did enjoy all your nice stories and photos.

Best regards,
Eva Suzuki