The Gift of Friendship
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Once you’ve encountered true friendship how does one go about recreating similar relationships? How does one keep from resenting others or becoming bitter when other friendships don’t add up or worst fail? Is it even possible to add and manage additional friendships and how many friends can one person manage anyway? Life is full of, let’s call it fear, that the best moments and relationships are in the past.
Arriving in Fort Worth I was certain I would never know friends like those I had left in Chicago. I never would because of age, place, and time. There’s so much a fifteen-year-old can’t know about the world. The search for true friendship would set the stage for something great in my life, and I hope the lives of others.
We arrived in Texas on August 15, 1985. It was 105 degrees when I opened the door at the Holiday Inn South on interstate 35 and I was immediately angry. We drove over to our home which my parents would close on in just a couple of days. I found everything wrong I could with the house. I was making it hard on my parents and I would continue to do this for the better part of a year and a half. I used outright rebellion.
I started my sophomore year just a few weeks later. At school and church, I had a new experience. No one knew me and it was a chance to start fresh. I would quickly change to contacts and lose the dark glasses. I would choose more modern style clothes and I got a better haircut.
I had no history, so I was not relegated to a group, and I wasn’t the dweeby kid of my late middle school and freshman year. I would build a network of acquaintances over the next year. No close friends, but people who were very different. I had a few of the jocks who liked to hang out with me for some reason, a few stoners who somehow thought I was chill, and I dressed a little preppy, so it seemed to get me some access to various social circles and some party invitations.
First Baptist Church in Crowley, Texas became our new church, and the youth and youth pastor were kind people. Unlike Chicago, almost everyone at church went to the same school so there was frequent interaction.
Relationships were simply social for most of high school and college. I think this may be true for most people. I was more concerned with dating in those years and by the time my senior year came around I had met Danae LeMond who I would marry six years later. Marriage was on our radar early on, even though we had much yet to figure out in life.
By college I had shed the social friendships from high school and only hung out with a few friends and not very often. Church continued to provide a funnel of people in and out of my circles.
Danae and I married in June of 1993 and there was something new in our lives, “couple friends”. Now friends came with their spouse, and this would be the typical set up for a couple of years.
I had lost touch with my friends in Chicago over the years. A year after I left, the letters stopped coming and no one called. Each of them had set off on the inevitable of their own life experiences. The old crew was now divided across the country.
By 1995 I thought frequently about my early friendships, and I had a desire to recreate them if it were at all possible. The example Tim had set never left me.
I invited David Rutherford to go on a long weekend adventure at the end of May with me to Lincoln National Forrest in New Mexico to camp and hike. He accepted.
David and his wife were one of our couple friends and we spent much time with them as we went to the same church and lived in the same apartment complex.
David would become another important individual in my life and in the stories of my friendships. Our trip to New Mexico would be the catalyst I was looking for to build unique and treasured friendships over the next three decades.
David and I at a Few May Club Trips
I was working in radio in Dallas and didn’t get off until late, so David said he would pick me up and we would make the trip to New Mexico through the night.
We drove through the dark with the radio blasting and turned it up and down with the conversation. Often, we rolled down the windows and I felt free from work and was glad to have a weekend break. David was even more excited to get away because he had a young daughter at home. We were escaping our lives for a moment and were escaping together.
We arrived south of Cloudcroft, New Mexico around 5 am and we drove his Honda Civic down gravel roads hoping to find some place to pitch a tent and get a little sleep. We were nervous because we lost a tire a few hours earlier and running on a spare. We weren’t sure how well the spare was going to hold on the rough roads.
We picked a spot near some massive pine trees and set up the tent and quickly fell asleep.
We didn’t sleep long and woke up just as the sun was coming up over one of the ridges. It was beautiful. We watched the sunrise and were speechless. We got our hiking gear, water and snacks and headed out for the day. We walked and talked. Rested on occasion and sat quietly.
Returning to camp we built a fire and cooked ribs as we discussed family life, politics, and religion. Our ideas aligned.
I had found another close friend again. We agreed next May we would take another trip and invite more guys t