Twenty some-odd years ago I walked my way into a classroom and began what would be my formal culinary education. The details of the academics are suspect, and the professional life that followed is more than a few steps away from that area of study, but that’s not really what this post is about, so there’s no need to dwell. As with just about anyone’s post-secondary education, mine was focussed just as much, or more so, on the new relationships I would develop, alongside the bettering of my knowledge of the larger world around me.
In addition to my educational endeavours, I also began a new job in a new city to help pay for the necessities that would get me through the next several years of my life; namely rent, beer, and a high-quality ping-pong paddle (having to shell out for food was not so much a priority, given the, unbeknownst to them: generosity of our school’s pantry and walk-in fridge). After applying to a handful of hum-drum part time gigs, I was fortunate enough to land myself the dream job at a record store, where I would not only expand upon my knowledge of the medium, but went through a solid 4-year string of unforgettable concert experiences, given the relationship we had with the big concert ticket company the time. Life was sweet.
Both of these life events simultaneously occurring led to a serendipitous meeting some of the best people I would ever come to know in this life, and I am proud to say that, all these years later, we are still in touch and watching our families grow. Not a day goes by that I am not grateful for their presence and impact on my life, the life of my daughters, and the memories they have given, and continue to gift to me. Distance and time may be factors that separate us these days, and that’s something I’ve admittedly been wrestling with these days, but I know deep down that those measures mean nothing when considering the strength and bond of a friendship built on the experiences we’ve had.
It’s true that not all friendships will last, and I’m sad to say that more than a few have dwindled over the years, not because of any particular event or wrong-doing, but because of circumstance and, well: life. I moved away, got married, moved again, had a child…quickly had a second child, got a new job, got another new job, turned 40, experienced a pandemic…you know: all that stuff. These events can cause a natural rift in the order of routine, and so it can also get more and more difficult to keep up all of the relationships that you wish you could. It’s heartbreaking, and there are those I was once very close with that I miss quite dearly and daily, but I also can’t say that I would change any one of those monumental life events. Except that COVID thing. That sucked.
I’m proud and excited to say, though, that this weekend, ahead of one of our gang bringing new life into this world, a few of us are able to get together very purposefully and enjoy each other’s company. I am sure there will be reminiscing of the time we got got sick from eating way too many tacos, the time one of us hid beef boullion cubes in the shower head (I still feel a little bad over that one), the days when we formed a cover band and played the school pub for a while, or wonder about the status of the 3-years worth beer caps we saved and then stowed away in the attic of our rental house for the next tenants to find. Then we will fast-forward a bit to talk about how our respective families are faring with school, work, any number of new physical ailments and challenges with our bodies no longer keeping up with our minds, and the inevitability of our children entering relationships, school, and keeping this cycle of life, love and friendships going.
I wish I could see all of these guys more often. I wish I could reliably make it up to Barrie for those weekly jam-sessions again, or play video games until 3:00 in the morning. I wish we didn’t have to plan so far ahead, only to have those plans fall apart because one of our children fell ill. Perhaps living through these last few dark and dreary months has got me feeling a bit more isolated than normal, but I’ve missed seeing this group of extended family, and I’m looking forward to our next adventures. That said, while there are many things I wish we could do, at the same time: to wish away what I have and get to experience every day of my life would be purely foolish. I had a moment just the other when I reached out to one of these wonderful people I speak of, and he wisely reminded me that we are all living, and family is all of our priority. We may not see each other for a stint, but it’s because we are all living the values that actually connects us and made us the best of friends in the first place. Wise words from a wise man; thanks for reassuring me, Billy.
So, from culinary and record store beginnings, to marriage, partnership, real-estate and children, the span of 22 years has seen a lot and I’m feeling appreciative today that there are a few constants throughout. I look forward to the next 22, and, though we may move a little slower across the stage and go to bed earlier, starting our next band.