I write this post for a friend, firstly, and secondly, for myself.
An old friend of mine, by the name of Jake, got himself married Saturday evening. He was one of the final two among my family and very close friends to have not tied the knot. The final act yet to be performed is, of course now, yours truly. I can't tell you how lonely it is out here now. My typing is practically making an echo.
But I'm not writing to be self-indulgent (although, whenever a blogger says something like that, it isn't completely true, since it is their personal website they want you to visit). I'm writing, perhaps, to be a little nostalgic.
He was the guy who was the youngest of four boys. I was the youngest of two. We were neighbors. Although he and my brother were only one month apart, and we three years, I always felt very connected to him. I always felt a brother-like friendship there.
He was a huge reason most of my childhood was fun. He wouldn't understand it, but he brought a bit of peace whenever he was around. Or perhaps, he could understand. As previously stated, he was the youngest of four boys, and brothers, at times, can be a bit pushy to say the least. He was the funniest guy on the street. The funniest guy in the neighborhood. And to me, the funniest guy in the city - and Houston is freaking big.
He was an encouragement in most all things. He was understanding in skirmishes. He was simply a peacemaker. He loved everyone. I speak in past tense only for dramatic purposes. And because I am referencing my childhood.
When word came around that my brother was going to ask Jake to spend the night, I would become very excited. Oddly enough, it rarely happened. My brother, however, often spent the night at his house, which always left me with absolutely nothing to do. That was the lone drawback of having the neighbor you knew was cooler and funnier than everyone else.
He and my brother. Those were the guys. To me. And for most of my growing up.
He was tops. Win or lose in basketball tournaments. It didn't matter nearly as much as long as he was on our team. You know you have found someone really special when they can even make losing sort of fun. I say "sort of" because, come on, it's losing.
Basketball, football, baseball, video games, Monopoly, fishing, riding bikes, swimming, baseball cards, basketball cards, football cards, Totino's pizzas, Chips Ahoy...there's a stamp you receive from childhood friends, and you can only pray to God that you have one that will leave that kind of impression. And you can only pray that your kids will receive the same.
Then there were the simple things: a Jerry Rice poster for Christmas. We didn't have jobs during those days, but he knew I loved, practically worshipped, Jerry Rice. The poster went right up on my wall and stayed up until the continual pin jabs tore away the corners - and even then it stayed up a while longer. "Rice be nimble. Rice be quick. Rice jump over Candlestick." A picture of #80 leaping over Candlestick Park. Generosity and kindness is impossible to forget.
He introduced me to Curve cologne when it suddenly took the world of desperate men by storm. I went right out and bought some.
His house introduced me and my brother to the Nintendo, Tecmo Super Bowl, Baseball Stars, Super Nintendo, Nintendo 64, and suddenly, almost out of nowhere, the life-altering GoldenEye video game. Our parents always waited patiently out of line to purchase these items (who am I to complain), but we didn't have to wait. Jake's house (thanks to his mom) and room was always open.
I watched most of my cartoons there. I witnessed the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing and 9/11 at his house. I grew up there. In his room. Taking naps in his bed. Watching his TV. Playing his video games. Looking at his brother's weightlifting magazines. Eating their food. And all of it was OK. It was more than OK. It was welcomed.
I picked up on his catchphrases, even the really stupid ones, and his antics. The more over-the-top and ridiculous, the better.
And now we are 33 and 36. He is married to a wonderful lady and is now the stepdad to a wonderful girl. We didn't talk too much about relationships and love and those sorts of silly topics. But I knew he was doing the same as I have been: waiting. Patiently waiting, although at times feeling very impatient.
Waiting for the perfect one to come along. I believe they all come along, but sometimes we just don't wait long enough for them to arrive. They do, however, come along. There was wonder if he would ever get married, much like there is debate on whether I will. I want to, just as he wanted to.
It is funny that the person who, if I haven't made this claim obvious already, has taught me so much and truly helped form me in many areas of my life, has now taught me another lesson. He taught it Saturday night: much like great friends, the perfect one does come along.