My plan was to get on the road tomorrow. But my plan is lacking a plan. I drove to Phoenix for the holidays because I wanted to shoot photos and line up some interviews (a generous term) for the trip back. I’ve had plenty of time to map that out, but I haven’t. Delay delay delay.
Procrastination is bad, but it sometimes opens the door to good things. My childhood friend Brent and his wife Amy popped into town, and my friends organized a dinner out. Everyone is spread out throughout the Valley of the Sun, so Marc found a spot that split the difference. 1845, table for 9. My parents planned on showing up to see everyone. I arrived at 1820 after a 30+ minute drive. I got out of the car and said, “Shit.” No wallet.
I got back in my car and drove home. When I got home I texted Marc. Forgot wallet, don’t wait. Keep an eye out for my parents. Marc replied, “No need for wallet. They are here.”
I’ve always had a problem with punctuality. I was stoked to arrive early, and now I’d be 30 minutes late. Childhood friends have a long memory. I knew I’d be in for some razzing. I got back to the restaurant at about 1915.
Dude, no one is going to mistake you for under 21. Not the point. Most of my friends in Seattle are restaurant industry folks. The law in Seattle is that everyone has to have a valid ID. It’s not good enough to obviously be 21, you need to be able to prove it to Johnny Law. I’ve seen Chris at The Unicorn turn away a group of 8 Germans hell bent on spending a lot of money because a 50 year old didn’t have an ID.
I’d been in rush hour traffic. I was a little annoyed. People often weigh in on things with the assumption that you acted without forethought, whimsically. My mind wandered to mansplaining. I imagine women must deal with this a million times a day. There’s a regular at my local watering hole. He is an interesting, hard-working guy. I have never once heard him ask a question during a conversation. He travels a lot. I remember one night just nodding my head as he told me about his trip to Turkey, explaining Turkish history, Turkish food, and the Turks. I lived in Istanbul for two years my dude, but go right ahead, finish your lecture about Turkey.
The rush hour frustration subsided, and I settled in, grateful to be around friends I have known for 40 years, happy that my parents were able to join and see the families they helped pave the way for.
My friend Scott (we had 3 Scotts in a 1/2 mile radius) was sitting across the table. He shouldn’t have been. Two years ago he got Valley Fever. It hit him while he was on a work trip in Nashville. Valley Fever is rough and obscure. Luckily, for most, it hits you and then lies dormant. It puts some people in the ICU. Scott was in a weeks long day to day struggle for survival.
I’m not surprised he pulled through. The shit he went through would have killed me on the first day. But I never doubted he’d pull through. I’d have been more surprised if he hadn’t. He’s just tough as nails, as is Laurel, his wife. I could picture him telling a doctor, “Hey dude, do what you’ve got to do, but my son has a baseball game in two weeks and my daughter has an upcoming recital I’m not missing.” I don’t want to sound like I’m making light of the situation – his wife, doctors, and nurses expected the worst each day, for weeks.
If you’ve worked for the USG in the past 20 years, you’ve met some SEALs and Special Forces. They’re amazing humans (working with less than amazing US policy…I’ll save that for another day). BUDS, Q Course, Ranger School…I wouldn’t have lasted a day. I developed a very unscientific theory about the people I met from that background. I think there were two types that were able to pass. There were the disciplined, committed, organized types who set their sights long-term on that objective and made sure their bodies were prepared for the grind. Then there were the adventurous types who got bored of surfing and ski patrol and said, “Hmm, that sounds interesting.” Scott would have been the latter. Why would I want to do that, it sounds awful. Son, you’re never going to get through this. Is that so?
And there we were, two years after the ICU, talking about upcoming trips and debating the cost between economy and economy plus. Such is life.
It’s weird to think that I’m on a group text chain with people I have known 40 years. Nothing is sacred. It is humbling to have people call you on your bullshit and bring up an embarrassing junior high school story. We were a bunch of idiots, not including Angela. She was never an idiot. They’ve all become these great parents and married wonderful people. I’m not basing that on Facebook postings. I’m basing it on listening to their conversations and knowing the kids. Tonight there weren’t any kids. We can still bring the jackass.
I got home to the incredible smell of baked bread. My mom had another go at the black olive, caraway, and honey yeast bread. It was wrapped in a towel. I’m sure there’s a more accurate culinary term for towel. Who cares. I felt like I’d walked into a French country house. I got some butter from the fridge and devoured 3 slices. My mom’s a perfectionist. I’m sure she’ll find some fault with it. I thought it was delicious.