We used to huddle around the TV, throwing profanities and obligatory remarks both at the screen and at each other as we battled for NHL supremacy. We drank way too much Mountain Dew and complained about the women that wouldn’t give us what we wanted. We took trips to the casino to gamble away what little money we had. I usually played it safe, opting for small bets with little payouts. He went the opposite direction by risking it all for something greater. In many ways, this was representative of our respective lives.
When we got to college, like most people, we both changed. We pulled a Freaky Friday-like stunt, me adopting his personality and him taking over mine. The new dynamic to our friendship worked only because we had built enough equity that we were able to survive each other’s misdeeds.
But eventually it became apparent that we were two different people. We were no longer the people the other had grown so fond of. What was once a seemingly inseparable friendship, was quickly becoming a divisive and toxic relationship. Trivial circumstances led to contention, over things like money, and where that money was coming from and how we got it. At the time, it seemed like a big deal because we were always posturing for superiority. But we were doing this in a friendship that didn’t need it. He and I didn’t start out competing over money, accomplishments, etc. We became friends because we had commonalities, and the personalities matched just enough to lead to some unforgettable memories.
Yet, unfortunately, people change, whether they like it or not. It’s why so many relationships and marriages fail, because through little fault of our own, we simply adopt a different persona. It’s these subtle changes that we don’t see early on because we are happy that we have found someone we can spend quality time with. And then we expect them to remain that way because that’s the type of person we have come to expect them to be. When they are no longer that, it’s automatically their problem, not ours.
What so many people, including myself, neglect to realize is that while other people go through transformations, we as individuals do as well. I used to be a simple guy, reading the Star Tribune everyday, playing basketball at Lifetime, and hanging out with a few close friends. But then a few years ago something changed: I started to become a person I did not recognize. For so long I felt that I had lost my identity, a concept I write much about in The Long Road North. As more time passes, I slowly have begun to accept that my personality changes weren’t a regression, but more so an evolution. The person I thought I was all those years was only laying the foundation for the person I am now. And the person I am now is only a semblance of the person I will become in the future.
So here I was, agreeing to meet up with a guy I once proudly deemed my best friend. I didn’t know what to expect. Were we going to talk about all the past events that negatively impacted our relationship? Would we just ignore those details and act like nothing happened?
They say you have running conversations with some people. These people are your closest allies, with time away not being a difference maker in the quality of these relationships. I have a few of these, for which I am forever grateful.
When my best friend and I began our descent upon Minneapolis on this night, after the forced fist bump and general pleasantries, we began to break down some of the barriers that once inhibited our friendship.
“So life’s good?” I asked, letting the seat warmer of his new car jilt me with sensation along my spine.
“Life’s good,” he said, smiling and switching lanes, but also switching the tone of our evening.
From there, we recaptured our old rapport. After my second Grey Goose, I deadpanned, “Look, man. I did and said a lot of things I am not proud of. I’m sure you feel the same.” He nodded in concurrence. “But life is too short, brother. It took a lot for me to get over myself and come here tonight, but this was definitely worth it.”
No more needed to be said. With that, we were back to our hard-charging, youthful ways. We left one bar and went to my favorite club in Minneapolis.
“You guys open yet?” I said to the bouncer while I shivered with my hands in my pockets.
“Not until 10,” he informed us.
I looked at my phone and saw we were twenty minutes early. We began walking back in the direction we came, and then a brilliant idea popped in my head. “What’s up?” my friend asked.
“Follow me,” I said.
See, when I go to a strip club, I always pick out one woman there that I want to see behind closed doors. This develops a level of intimacy that isn’t normally fostered in that type of environment. That night, it was this blonde woman that I first saw when she walked through a side door with a bag of to-go food and a large purse hanging from her left elbow. Her eyes caught mine, and she held the gaze longer than normal. I’m sure this was part of her ploy, but I was okay with that. Her and I were never going to express our vows to one another, but we were going to have a good time on this night, or so I thought.
She never made her way to the main stage, instead walking the perimeter in search of someone who looked like they were ready to spend a lot of money. I saw her coming from my left, and I turned my head to try to catch her attention. I was practically begging her to take my money. Looking back, I should have worn tighter pants.
A few minutes passed, and I could no longer take the psychological warfare of the moment. The woman wasn’t approaching me, which led to small feelings of insecurity. She, like so many things in my life, was not just going to happen. I had to go and get what I wanted. I approached her with a level of hastiness.
“How’s it going tonight, miss?” I asked her, trying to be as respectful as possible.
“It’s going well,” she responded, looking up at me with a seductive smile.
“I’m going to be honest with you,” I began. “I’ve been wanting you to come up to me all night, and I got impatient, so, well, here I am.” She laughed and turned her face away to hide the red that had now emblazoned her cheeks. “Will you take me back there?” I requested, pointing in the direction I knew I would eventually wind up.
She said nothing, only grabbing my hand and leading me to the back. It was the easiest sale she would make all night. Her curly blonde hair and tightly trimmed physique were going to put me at peace, if only for a couple songs.
“We can do so much more in VIP,” she whispered in my ear at one point.
“Yeah, but you say that to everyone,” I said while laughing at the glaring lack of intimacy in this artificially constructed scenario. It was then clear we both had to end this charade. Her for the night, and perhaps permanently for me.
My friend and I left, the joys of that moment expired and relegated to spending eternity in this post, and our respective memories.
“I have to stop going to places like that,” I yelled through a chilled windpipe, which predictably was met with laughs. Some people, they just never learn.
We made our way to the next club, recaptured intoxication, and danced the night away with some highly conservative women from Michigan.
“Geez, talking to that one chick was like talking to a brick wall,” he said to me as we left the club and headed out into the chill of the evening. I burst into laughter, inspired by the belief that if her conversational aptitude was as paltry as her dancing, my friend’s description was completely accurate.
It all boils down to timing. The timing wasn’t right for me to go to an exotic dance club. The timing also wasn’t right for he and I to cross paths with these women from Michigan. But as my ears began to echo sensations of frostbite, I knew the timing was right for me to reunite with my best friend.
Father time waits for no one. I very easily could have sat around and waited for an apology from my friend; an apology I felt was deserved and a long time coming. But while I waited, I was missing out on everything I could have been doing with my guy, like making blind, impulsive decisions. Better put, I was missing out on making new memories that would have undoubtedly erased the old, resentful ones that were clearly entrenched in my brain. And that’s a waste of time, and of life.
It’s crazy where the time goes, and I’m writing this as a twenty-five year old. Human beings really don’t live very long at all. It seems like just yesterday I was choosing which background to use for my extremely important MySpace profile (seriously, that was really important at the time). I wish I could tell my younger self, “Dude, get over it already,” in regards to all the petty disagreements I’ve had with people. Harboring animosity has gotten me nowhere in life. But moving on? Ridding myself of negative thoughts toward others? That’s what’s been truly liberating.
We can never forget the past. We can only forgive it.
Didn’t get a chance to meet Quentin Super during his tour? Check out the video recap on YouTube
Also check out his appearance on The Big Movement podcast