Sunday, March 25, 2012

How Not To Be A Friend

Jenny and I hit it off on our first date.

As friends.

We laughed hard and enjoyed messing with the other people in the small bar we were at.

But there were too many differences in our life for it to ever be more than friends.

She was 8 years younger than me with no kids, but wanted them. I had kids, but wanted no more. She hadn't really gotten her career started, while mine was going along quite nicely at the time.

We hung out in our free time for about a year. She'd hang out with my sons and I, even, I still remember going to Taste of Minnesota and jamming out to bands with her and the mini-mes.

But it was always platonic. We never even kissed each other.

We both ended up meeting other people and dating, so we rarely would hang out, and our texting or phone calls became less frequent. She ended up getting engaged to a guy who wanted to start a family with her, and I was so damn happy for her, even if we didn't communicate as much.

And we always had Facebook as a way to stay up on what each other was up to.

And then about two years ago, she told me she had stage 4 cancer. The odds were not looking good for her.

I kept up to date on her battle on Facebook, and would send notes to her letting her know she could win this thing, with as tough as she was. She stayed positive and truly believed she could win this fight.

Her fiance was by her side the entire time, helping her try and feel comfortable in the darkest hours of chemo and radiation.

And then I got busy, and was not as good about keeping up with her battle because I had silly every day life changes going on around me. Things that seemed stressful: Work stress, moving stress, dating stress, financial stress. Eff all that stuff. She was fighting for her life.

Last week, I realized I hadn't seen anything from her on Facebook for awhile.

I couldn't find her.

Did she unfriend me? No, she'd never do that.

I searched for her on Facebook to see if perhaps she accidentally had deleted me from her friends' list.

No profile.

I went to google and searched her name.

And then I read her obituary from last summer.

The lesson, my friends, is this.

Treat every moment with every one of your friends like it might be your last with them.

And don't take anyone for granted.

I'll miss you, Jenny! I'm sorry I let my stupid life get in the way of properly saying goodbye to you.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Some Beach...

It's my most common daydream.

Selling most of my belongings, hopping into my already abused car with the belongings I want to keep, and driving until I find some beach, some where.

Where I can sit and sip a cold drink, nobody knows my name, and my first world problems will magically disappear.

The daydream has become so persistent that I start looking around at my belongings.

"Wonder how much I can get for this entertainment center the size of a small elephant? Oh wait, people don't have big entertainment centers anymore. They use their walls for their TV."

See I'm not sure I could even get enough money for my stuff to get me to this beach of wonder.

Because I've just never really cared about things.

People always mattered to me more than things. And last time I checked it's still illegal to sell them.

I don't own a flat screen TV.

I don't have a DVR.

Or an iPod, or iPhone, or iPad. I just have iClemmy.

My furniture is worn, my car is at the later stages of it's life, but still holding on.

So then I rethink my strategy. "Okay, how about instead I just walk away. They can think I disappeared into thin air, was abducted by aliens, or I'm drinking 40 ouncers in a secluded bunker with Elvis and Tupac."

This strategy won't work, either, though. Everyone who knows me would tell the authorities to search every beach in North America for me. Eventually they'd find me.

So then the daydream begins to fade, and I realize it will never be anything other than just that.

And then I look at my reality.

Why on Earth would I run away from my life?

Sure, I am not a wealthy man. At least not in my bank account.

But the people in my life, well they're worth far more to me than any bank account. Anywhere.

And despite the awesome meat jokes it allows, it's not my dream job to sell steaks for a living.

But it's a job where professionally, I've grown immensely, and have had the pleasure to meet some really interesting people from all walks of life who wander through my store's door.

And I don't live in a big fancy house in the suburbs like I used to.

That's fine by me. I hated taking care of 2,000 square feet and a half acre of grass anyway.

And I'm perfectly aware, as a 41-year-old single dad, that I probably should go out and spend some money to upgrade my attire now and then, if I ever want to land myself a date or two.

But, trust me, when it comes down to making a choice between keeping my sons fed versus buying a fancy pair of jeans and an overpriced t-shirt, well, you already know the answer.

And my sons. Ultimately they are my anchor that keeps me from heading to some beach.

I know now more than ever they need me. And I know I need them as well. We're the three Clemsketeers. We get each other, in some Little Rascals kind of way, in our all male home.

Us Clem boys, we're inseparable.

So if all three of us ever disappear, well, I hope you will simply tell the authorities the truth.

"I read on his blog that he wanted to go drink 40 ouncers with Tupac and Elvis."