Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Friends you don't forget

Kendra was my best friend when I was two. We would make mud pies in my front yard and sunbathe nude on my back deck. Our pale white asses reflecting the sun back to the sky. I have photo evidence. When we grew older we staged fake weddings. I wore the powder blue tux and she wore a white sun dress with a bonnet. The neighborhood kids from the block would come to her front yard to watch, one of them performing the service. We got married twice. Not sure why. I don't ever remember the divorce in between. I do know that she was a year older than me and I played with a lot more dolls between ages 2-6 than most boys ever did. I also was always the student and she the teacher when we played school. We rode our Hot Wheels bikes down the street, mine was the Incredible Hulk and she had the Dukes of Hazard. We role played the show Moonlighting. I was David and she was Maddie.

When kindergarten approached I met new friends. One of my buddies in kindergarten was Phillip. One day while in my backyard I heard voices behind my house. I looked over my fence to see Phillip and his brother Jerry playing soccer. It turns out my friend from kindergarten was also my neighbor. We became great friends. Soon I was no longer playing with the Ken doll and was playing with G.I. Joes. My friendship with Kendra was never the same. It seemed the games we used to play were no longer as fun as the games my new friends played. Kendra's family eventually moved away from next door to a town nearby and we almost lost contact completely. Phillip remained my best friend all through grade school and high school.

We both had huge goals. Even when I was in 2nd grade I was writing. I was sure that I would be writing books at some point in my life. My favorite books growing up were Encyclopedia Brown and any Hardy Boys choose your own adventure book. Phillip took up wrestling at a young age and became very good at it. While I played Little League and auditioned as a tackling dummy for Pop Warner and then freshman football I was never a star athlete. Phillip turned out to be a great high school wrestler. We both anticipated making a lot of money and would try to inspire each other to strive in our goals. I remember as sophomores we even had business cards made for one of our business ventures. We called the business Permil, which was a combination of our last names Perez and Miller. With these lame cards (they had women's lip prints on them) we started approaching women in the mall and introducing ourselves with our business cards. We would compete to see who could get the most phone numbers of girls and if they wouldn't give us theirs we'd whip out the oh-so-cool business cards and hand it to them. If we were feeling especially bold (or desperate) we'd write a little message on the back of the card before we approached them. I think we probably handed out 50 cards between us. I know I didn't get a call. I think Phillip said he did, but I seriously doubted it.

After high school I moved away to Oregon with my family. While I still maintained my friendship with Phillip and he even moved up to Oregon for a few months, we eventually grew apart. He continued his wrestling and even became almost a pioneer in mixed martial arts in California. I went to one of his fights down in Gardenia in an abandoned warehouse. This was several years before Dana White made MMA fighting lucrative, UFC was in existence but Ken Shamrock was in his prime. I last talked to Phillip in 2001. By then I had moved to Seattle.

It was in Seattle that I met my buddy Derek at Wells Fargo. He was a banker at another in-store branch and eventually we started working at the same downtown branch. We were living it up in the heyday of Kirkland. We got an apartment together and every night we hung out at either the Kirkland Pub or the Shark Club right off Lake Washington. We drank, partied, met girls (D a few more than me) and stayed up until 2 or 3 am every night. We would wake 4 hours later to head to our jobs. I don't even remember drinking coffee then. I do remember one day while in the branch Derek shot a paper clip with a rubber band from behind teller row and nailed me in the head right above my eye at my desk. It was an amazing shot across the entire branch from as far back as he was, but at the time I didn't appreciate his accuracy. In fact the branch was slow and when he hit me in the head I yelled "Mother Fucker!" You could hear the audible gasps from my supervisor and co-workers who looked over at me in horror. Derek was bursting in laughter almost falling over. Bastard.

I eventually moved out of the apartment and bought a condo, and Derek moved to downtown Seattle in the Queen Anne district. We still partied it up but now the scene was Seattle and not the Eastside. I think I fell out of a couple cabs. I know that Ozzie's and Peso's got a few bucks out of me for a few years. In 2006 I moved to Medford.

It was a tough move. While I loved the area, I knew no one. I felt very isolated. When you get older it is harder to make friends. It's definitely harder to make good friends. I stayed good buds with Derek and still visit Seattle, but not enough. In 2008 I made another great Wells Fargo compadre in Sam. Again he was working in an in-store branch. This time Phoenix and he looked about as miserable as my buddy Derek in Juanita. I know we've been through some tough and interesting times together in the two years we've been friends. He's seen me at my lowest moments and also when things seemed to be at their peak, then again when that peak seemed to collapse in an avalanche. Yet I know he's a friend I won't forget. In life we aren't guaranteed good friends. Sometimes we have them and we lose touch. Sometimes all it takes is a phone call to restore that. Sometimes they never will be. I've learned though not to look back in regret on lost friendships. Because they aren't lost at all. They are a part of us, and who we are, and who we will be. We can always look back fondly and laugh or cry, but appreciative that they were apart of our lives.

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