Tonight, as I was finishing one last bit of studying before the midterm I have for my Biology class tomorrow morning, my best friend Jim called, just to catch up with me.
In the course of our conversation, we talked about the Biology class, which he'd taken a few years ago, when he was considering a nursing career. He'd worked for a long time as a graphic designer, and had become frustrated with the field; most graphic designers work in advertising, and advertising is the first thing to be cut when there's an economic downturn. Fortunately, someone had the good sense not only to hire him permanantly in the field, but to promote him into management a couple of years ago. He shelved his plans to enter the health care field, but his foray into the classes in that field made its mark. We talked about cell structure, the electron transport chain, evolution and the universe. It was a typical conversation for us.
In fact, a typical conversation might also include art, history, global warming, karma, families or ethics. Or any of a thousand topics. He's someone who I can mention Crick and Watson, Roger Maris and asterisks, or make a joke about Jackson Pollock and he knows what I'm talking about without me having to preface or explain it. He's babysat my son, been the best man at my wedding, and knows every skeleton in my closet. He's celebrated every success and commiserated with me on every failure of my adult life. We have more "in-jokes" than I can count.
I talked to him about my recent work experience and how if I hadn't have lost the job downtown, I wouldn't have ended up in the current job, which I love, and would probably have had to drop my class. He told me how much he's enjoyed his new hobby, running in 5K races, and when his next couple of runs are. We made plans to talk before next weekend to make plans to get together.
After we hung up, I got a glass of red wine and settled in to spend an evening hanging out with Kim and watching the Red Sox and Indians play, and I thought about the road to where I am.
In the course of our conversation, we had talked about how, statistically, we have about another 40 years or so left to our lives. We are, statistically, a little past the half-way point in our lives. We are, as they say, middle-aged.
After talking to him, I thought about my first 46 years and the beginnings of our friendship when he and I were 18 and 22, respectively. I remembered a hundred great times with him, including the "Gentleman's Lunch," an institution that cemented my and Jim's friendship when we were in college together. I remembered the couple on the tandem bicycle, "adamant" and "copiously." Like I said-- a million in-jokes. I'll probably blog about them all over time.
Something he reminded me of tonight, and always reminds me of, is that there are things that you think are bad that turn out to be blessings in disguise. The road you take sometimes isn't what you thought it was going to be when you turn around the bend. And it occurred to me that sometimes, it isn't just the road you take; it's who walks beside you that is important.