Monday, July 9, 2012
Friends in Lonely Places
I’m coming to realize that one of the most untrue things I was taught as a child is that people are fundamentally bad.
My work sometimes takes me away for weeks at a time, and during those times, I have a lot of choices. Choices about what I eat, what I do with my evenings, etc.. For each of the last 2 summers I’ve been sent to one of the plains states to handle hail claims for 21 days in a row, usually about 12 hours per day. At night, if I choose to let it be, life can be awfully lonely. Last year I spent the evenings of my first week in Rapid City by myself in the hotel, mindlessly watching crap on cable and trying to cling to my normal life via Facebook. In the second week, I happened to meet a roofer who was in town chasing storms. We got along pretty well, and started to hang out in the evenings, mostly on the weekends. We talked about UFC, our families, sports, politics, a little of everything. He called me Obama’s boy, and I accused him of exploiting cheap Mexican labor. It was fun. But above all, it was a connection - another person to share that brief section of life with, and keep life from being lonely. Through not much effort, I had made a friend, and we keep in touch still today.
This year was no different. Right off the bat here in Colorado, I met a roofer who lives in town with his wife and 3 kids, one of whom is adopted from China. As 2 of my siblings are also adopted, we had something in common right away. Glen has a PhD in audiology, and after selling his private practice, decided to become a roofer. It got him outside, he got to meet lots of people, and he didn’t have to hassle with health insurance cuts and Medicare issues. Over the course of the 3 weeks I’ve been here, I’ve probably had dinner with Glen and his family 5 times, and got together on jobs many more. I introduced his teenagers to the UFC, and told him about my wife, who studied audiology in college. I’m sincerely sad to be leaving him tomorrow. Were we living in the same town, I’m sure our families would be great friends.
These experiences have made me view life a little bit differently. It seems that no matter where I am, I can always find someone to share the human experience with, and it makes my life better. People are the same in so, so many ways, and if we’re willing, they can enrich our days simply be being there to share the time, and the occasional beer.
I’m not very good at self-awareness, but I’m learning that as much as I’ve always believed myself to be an introvert, I’m really not. I’ve gotten good at making friends, and I’m proud of myself for it. This past year I’ve made at least a half-dozen solid friendships through OneGeorgeFox, a few more through work, not to mention my annual catastrophe companions.
Over the last few weeks, it’s become clear that in a few years, my best friend since I was in diapers is going to move away. I’m not very happy about it. I can’t blame him - after all, I moved away in 2006, not necessarily intending to move back. But it still sucks. He’s always been there, and you can‘t replace 30 years of history. My hope is that my new awareness for great people lurking around most corners will help fill that void, and that transition won’t be as awful as it sounds. But it certainly makes me appreciate people - not on an individual level, but as a collective. People, on the whole, are amazing. And given a little bit of effort, and a little bit of patience, we can all find a few people to make this life better, simply by showing up and letting them be a part of our experience.
When I talk to Taylor on the phone, she tells me that I’m the best daddy in the world, and she “misses my lips.” I miss hers too, and hopefully after I get home tomorrow, I’ll get to see most of yours as well.