I’ve had a lot of conversations recently with friends about the pandemic and staying in contact with the people that matter most. Everyone has either experienced economic hardship in this past year, or you at least know of someone that has. The world has changed so much and we are all just struggling to keep pace. Often finding ourselves without a paddle on the large lake of life. Whether health has affected you during this time, or it involves struggling with money after being laid off from your job because they can’t stay open. It’s been a challenge for many. Often leading to serious psychological conflict with oneself. Pushing the boundaries of self worth and the ability to keep a family afloat. It really gives you perspective on life and who you come in contact with. You never know what the people around you are going through, unless you reach out.
My parents separated while I was young in life. It lead to a challenging move from the upper peninsula of Michigan, down to the lower half. The move wouldn’t proof to be easy at first, as I tried to adapt to what I felt was a city life after living in what was considered a village. Meeting people seemed somewhat alien for some time. My memories aren’t too vivid at a young age with only times of awkwardness standing out. Being I had a small accent (somewhat similar to that of the Canadien accent), I often heard it from others when saying couch or about. As I began to adapt, I met some amazing friends along the way. Neighbors around the block that shared similar interests. We grew up playing football in the random patch of land across the street, and Nintendo in my friends basement. It was simple, none of our families had a whole lot of money, but love and commitment to family was always instilled in our brains. Building friendships didn’t come easy at first, but lifetime friendships can be rare. I remember an occurrence on New years. My best friend knew that I was interested in ending my night with a kiss from a girl I had a crush on. Sadly she didn’t feel the same. When the ball dropped, she was locking lips with another one of our friends. As I drove her home disappointed that evening, I didn’t realize that he was about to go round for round with the guy she locked lips with. I honestly never really thought about friendship until that point. A person willing to start a fight with someone over his friends misery.
Moving down to Florida after college was a challenge all in itself. I felt like I was headed down a different path and decided to take a leap and find my own way in life. Packing my car to the brim and driving 26 hours down to Florida was probably more than I should have tackled in a day. Luckily 5 hour energy drinks and coffee were in the center console. I was young and wanted to spend the least amount of money as possible. After making my way down to my sisters house, I nestled in for a brief time, while I figured out what I wanted to do. I started in retail, having no idea what it would bring in my life. I honestly thought it was just a break, while I searched for a position that involved my college degree of exercise physiology. Not knowing where it would lead. I met several friends along the way. A store manager that pushed me into a manager role. She was so eloquent when she spoke and often mesmerized me with her conversation. Her South African accent was perfectly polished as she articulated what I would need to develop into a better person. She pushed me to reach for new heights. I didn’t realize it at the time (as I worked my way through relationships and homes across Brevard county), but she would become much more of a friend than I would ever have thought.
Moving to Orlando for my next step in a retail career that I never thought through, I made several unexpected friends. I found it a challenge when I first moved to the Orlando area. I recently broke up with a girlfriend, had a new job where I didn’t know anyone, and I was living by myself for the first time in my life. I broke down. I called my parents several times during this time period to just talk. I felt numb with the change. Often breaking down in tears at my apartment alone. Wondering what my next step would be. A great friend was made in a sales manager that I worked with at the time. His charismatic persona and free wielding view of life was infectious. He would often take me out at night for shenanigans in downtown Orlando. It got me through a tough time in my life and I don’t know how I would have done it without him. He effected me more than I expected and we became life long friends, even after he moved back to Miami.
I started to build a scar from moving. It wasn’t an open wound anymore. It started to almost feel normal to pick up and move to different locations around the Orlando area. Meeting new friends and getting comfortable in my own skin. I almost felt a sense of normalcy with change if that makes any sense. After having several mentors along the way in Orlando that pushed me to become better, I lifted my wings and flew out for a district merchant position in California. A move that would also take a toll on me personally as I found who I was. I came to the bay area and started over again. Orlando and all of the hard work of making close friends was now in the distance. Finding myself looking for new friendships. Often finding it difficult in my position to take time to go out and have drinks with co-workers. Making several friends, some acquaintances, but some life long friends that I would lean on as I made my way through the company.
My brother was a hellion as a kid. He would often find ways to aggravate me and then somehow find ways to blame it on me when it went sour. He even designed an electric chair to try out on me as a kid, luckily he knew very little about electricity and it never worked. As we grew older, we started to get much closer than I ever expected. It wasn’t so much the buying beer for myself and friends in our younger years, it became so much more as we made our way through life. While in California, we started to have regular phone calls. We made a morning of it. On my way to work on several hour commutes we would call and talk to each other about nothing. Things going on with the family, sports or anything else that randomly came up. We grew closer and closer and slowly went from the brother that drove me insane as a kid, to best friends as adults. Those mornings meant a lot to me and kept me grounded. I can’t help but think, it helped him also have a little bit of normalcy in his life.
What I’m getting at, is as I traveled across the country and settled into the change constantly happening around me, I started to see things more clearly. I started to realize the difference between acquaintances and true friends. Life constantly threw me curve balls as I went through my life, but somehow I always had something to fall back on. It wasn’t an economic backing, it was through friendships that I’ve made. There was something about the feeling of having the ability to call someone to talk with when I was down. I’ve felt down and out several times in my life. Without the support of close friends, I’m not sure I would be the person that I am. It’s interesting, I had two conversations with close friends over the past two weeks and it was about friendship. Sometimes just calling a friend to see how they are, means the world to someone. Just because you see on facebook that they are traveling the world and everything seems like an amazing ride, it might not be. People don’t like to air out their dirty laundry and nobody likes to admit when they are down. Yet they could be. They might be going through one of the most difficult times of their life. They might not know who to reach out to and the world is closing in on them. You don’t know until you pick up the phone and give them a call. Don’t let your time pass you by and find out that just a phone call might make a difference. It’s as simple as picking up the phone and saying,”Hello my friend, how are you?”