With A Little Help From My Friends

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The Wine Cellar Sunset

If you are a parent to children, I want you to take 30 seconds and think about the friends you have had in your lifetime. The ones that you had prior to kids and post-kids and those that knew you in all stages of your life. This post will focus on reflections on friendships for Daddies, the kiddos and anyone that’s ever made a friend.

You see, my friends are amazing. Even face to face.  Recently, I read on Facebook a quote that I really liked.  “As a kid, I always wanted to read peoples’ minds, then I joined Facebook and got over that.”

Friends are so important in life.  I recall as a kid being told by my Father that friends come and go and in your life, you may end up with one or two people who you can call true friends as you age.

That doesn’t work for me and I never felt the same as Dad.  While most days he is a wise man, his logic fit his life, not mine.  Not that his opinion was a bad one, as I saw him last summer with his 2 best friends.  Even though now, he may see them once every year or two, they pick up right where they left off.  That’s where we have something in common.  Everyone’s life changes so much as time goes by.  For me, I’ve always stayed close with friends.

That becomes increasingly difficult with a family and that after 3o years in Florida, where I’ve made the bulk of my friends, I find who my true friends are when I return.  They are the ones who drop everything and come to see you or make plans with you ahead of time.  There is quite a bit of assistance when friends know this blog and actually read it.  That and other social media.

When I go to Florida, our first stop besides 5-6 gas stations for (yes, gas but snacks, drinks and potty breaks too) is at Mike’s house.  Mike is a good friend that I worked with and for a short time we were roommates, which is when he fell in love with Lotti.  Since the condo we stay at on the beach does not allow dogs, he takes care of Lotti while we are in FL. They have a strange but loving relationship and his twin daughters and wife love Lotti too.  Thank you for always helping us out.032

Before we leave NC, a friend that I’ve made here stays at the house and feed the fish, helping to maintain my aquarium.  So far none have died in his care (only in mine), he’s got that whole, feed-em and leave-em thing down.  When I saw him after we returned  Garett told me that he fed the fish every day.  I asked if he had stayed there in our absence.  He said he only stayed sporadically but came by every day to feed the fish.  I thought I was doing him a favor too in hopes that he would stay for the duration, let his dog run around in the back yard and get a break from roommates.  There’s nothing wrong with his roommates by the way, but it is nice to escape living with people.   I remember because even though he was a close friend, I enjoyed living without Mike when he moved out, also not a bad roommate for an obnoxious drunken oaf.   Kidding aside, I’m finding it difficult to live with 2 of my current roommates, AJ and Andy.  As I’m writing this, they’re shouting at me from bed, begging for water and treats as if we didn’t feed them, give them water and take them to the park today, not to mention, buy them every toy that China makes that they don’t need.

Back to Garett.  WHO DOES THAT? He assured me before we left that he has no problem taking care of the fish and was happy to do it.  Thank you buddy, to answer my question, nobody does that!  I never would have asked him to do that as I know how busy he is but he is a true friend and thought nothing of it.385449_10151295834483084_762678224_n

While in Florida as soon as my in-laws showed up to help my wife with the kids and attempt to consume all the sun the beach has to offer, I was able to have a reunion with 2 friends I worked with over 10 years ago.  Dan and Dwayne.  2 very busy people, but I planned ahead and met up with them.  Dan traveled an hour and a half to come and hang with us and this guy has not a day off in literally months.  Even though it has been a long time since we’ve seen each other, again, it was like we saw each other the day before as we could catch up on new and old times.

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Mike Sloan

I had a reunion with people I worked with about 20 years ago (for about 6 years in duration).  The Wine Cellar Restaurant (Redington Shores, FL) is closing after 37 years.  Again, through Facebook, I arranged for those in the area and even some like myself that were from out-of-town to meet up one last time.  There were about 16 of us and we had never been in this setting as customers on this side of the table.  There are a few there that I talk to on a regular basis.  A great friend Nadim, I see every time in Florida as he always makes the time to come and hang out.  There were a few girlfriends and a friend of a friend who had nothing in common with these people who all worked at that restaurant 15-20 years ago.  I knew him through Jellyfish Greg so we talked for a while but it was kind of funny to see him try to jump into any conversation he could among all these long-time friends who have known each other since the early 90’s and have the restaurant that we are eating and drinking in, in common.  Sorry PJ.

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Some of those friends could not make it that weekend and hopefully were able to go down to FL this past weekend and have part 2 of the reunion.  One of which was travelling from San Diego, CA.  I hope to get details and pictures of that reunion too.

We did not have nearly enough time to catch up and heard some fantastic stories of debaucheries, getting yelled at, fired, lied to, fights, loves, loss, nicknames (wanted and unwanted), and quite a few whatthefuckeries, not fit for my audience.  Life has changed so much for all of us.  These friends live all over the country but had this in common and we spent our teen years and 20’s together so it only made sense for us to remain close despite the distance.  Again, I hate how often I say this….but thanks Facebook.

We were all waiters, busboys and bartenders.  Ironically, during our reunion visit to the restaurant, the service was terrible, no worries though, he was a newbie and they’re closing soon so he may not have been on his toes or even prepared for a crowd like us.  These are all people who I will never forget.  My life is better for having known them and I hope we can always remain friends despite the distance.  Lucky for them, I visit Florida often.  We all talked about doing it again, we’ll just have to find a different venue.  I suggested we all return with a grill, a stocked cooler and protective eye wear for the demolition.

While it was quite unusual, it was even good to see the Owners and the Chef and his lovely wife and daughters, the cooks and some of the waiters that are still working there until it closes.  Even Jerry.

While I still have a demanding family, I was able to see all these friends because of the support of my wife, my angelic kids and my Florida family and in-laws for helping us out.  I’d write more about them but you’re probably sick of reading about them (assuming you read my other posts).

My wife, who has lived away from where she grew up since the age of 20, told me that she lost a lot of friends in Wisconsin, because when she returns home for brief visits, she only has enough time to meet with her family, who includes many close brothers, sisters, parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and at one time her Grandma K. She said that time just never allowed getting together with all of them. I wonder if this will happen to me, as I visit Florida briefly, my time only includes those friends who generally make an effort to see me. You see, it is increasingly difficult to meet friends when our first priority is taking care of three kids under 5. Perhaps this will change. Stay tuned to blog posts to chart development.

Since we’ve been here in NC, I’ve made some good friends like Garett and Brian, both of whom help me escape the street I spend most of my time on…..Sesame Street.  While I love Florida, it’s good to be home.  Yesterday, we were at a co-ed baby shower for 2 friends.  Quoted as the best baby shower ever!  It helps when you invite men and bring beer.  These friends are expecting twin girls in 5 weeks.  They will then fall into the category of crazy people as that’s how I feel about having any more than 3 kids, as mine drive me nuts.  These are probably our closest couple friend in NC and somehow we will find the time to help them with the twins.

So, I’m a Dad and there’s a reason I wanted to talk about friends.  Aside from a tribute to the Wine Cellar that we all love and hate to love, I wanted to talk about my kids’ friends.

Recently, my poor AJ was playing with a group of friends that he goes to school with.  One of which was his first friend when he started pre-school 3 years ago.  He said referring to AJ, “what’s his name again?”  I’m not sure if he heard it, but I did and it cut me deep as I know that would hurt my feelings as a 5-year old.  Hopefully, I took that pain and he did not.

AJ has always had many friends at school and they’ve always loved him.  I brought him to school after being out sick for a few days and he was immediately surrounded by all his classmates hugging, jumping and all shouting AJ!

AJ and Andy, both make friends every time they go to the park.  I wish I could get them to remember their new friends’ names.  They always tell us about their ways, how they played and ask me to invite them over to our house to play.  If AJ is asked what he did at school that day, he always answers “I can’t remember.” We’ll have to work on that.

As Andy is getting more verbal, he too is more social and plays well with most kids unless he’s so excited, he plays too rough.  We’re also working on that.

They are social, sensitive, loving, rough-housing boys and I really want to make sure they are good to friends.  So much of being a boy is cutting each other down, pranks and bragging.  I hope to teach them to focus on being social and friendly, doing things for others, particularly Mom and Dad, but more so with their friends and knowing that what we do for them is important to pass on to friends as being decent, loving, caring boys.  But yes, I know the teenage years are going to suck.  And no…..I never want them to work in a restaurant, but of course, there are pictures of the kids and family in Florida.  Enjoy!

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This post is dedicated to Bryan Schuyler who should have been with us at our reunion R.I.P. “Rehab”

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