Anyway – groomsman. Ovaries. I expect you, my faithful readers (all three and a half of you?), have been eagerly anticipating the explanation post.
I’ll try to not disappoint.
This story begins one November weekend, many many years ago, in the twilight of my youth – otherwise known as 1996. I was attending a youth retreat at my church, with high school students from across metro Detroit. This retreat, and the effect it had on my life, and how it forever changed me, is something I could go on about for hours. In fact, I may do that at some point in the near future.
So, this lovely fall weekend in my freshman year of high school, I went on a retreat and made many new friends. Some of them were four year friends, and after graduation I never spoke to again. Some I keep in constant contact with to this day. Unfortunately, most of these people fall into the former catergory. But Phil...Phil was never one of those.
To be honest, I don’t have many memories of Phil from that first retreat. I assume that we met, and were friendly, but as I recall, we didn’t make the effort to stay in touch after the weekend. The next May, however, we both returned as staff, and instantly clicked. I’ll admit, I had a crush on him for quite some time afterwards, but the dynamic between us was almost always more brother-sister.
Phil and I became close friends-best friends. We were each others’ sounding boards, security blankets, guard dogs. His family quickly became my family, and to this day, I still call his mother Ma, and his little brother my own little bro. There weren’t a lot of people I trusted in my life in those days, but he was one of them. We were fiercely protective of each other (Phil still is – more than once he has offered to “take care of that @$$ for you, if ya catch my drift”) and I’m sure somewhere along the lines we probably made the vow that many opposite sex friends make – if we’re both single at age___, we marry each other, blah blah blah.
After graduation, I went off to college, and Phil ended up deciding to join the Navy. At the time, I was in a writing class at Western Mich., and our assignment was to use a song as a basis for a personal memory. I wrote about Phil leaving, and how scared I was, and how I was worried that our friendship would change, with the lyrics to “Standing At the Edge of the Earth” by Blessid Union of Souls as the backdrop. I found that paper a few months ago while cleaning and couldn’t believe the rush of emotion I felt when reading over it. Insane that something that happened almost eight years ago now, after I know the outcome, can still hit me.
Phil graduated from boot camp, and I went, and sometime around then, our dynamic started to change. Maybe it was not seeing each other for so long, maybe it was distance...who really knows? Things change, people change, and all the other applicable cliches that somewhere along the line were based in fact.
Then, September of that year. Just an average day, after I had managed to not get invited back to Western for a second year (again, story some other time), opening up the music store I used to manage at. Suddenly, a friend from another store in the mall runs inside and asks if we’ve been listening to the radio or watching the TV. After the initial shock and horror, my first thought was, “Oh my god, where’s Phil? And where will he be going?” I remember not sleeping well for weeks after that, not knowing what was going to happen, and if he’d be sent somewhere he may not come back from.
When I found out he was safe and well, I breathed easier. But still...dynamic was different. Something was off. And something would continue to be off for a long time...to be honest, I’m not sure that things have ever been the same since before the Navy. I could attribute a lot of it to growing up, I suppose....Being older, wiser, and more life experiences, etc. Still, we’ve remained close, and Phil has stayed someone that I know I can count on.
We’ve seen each other through so much – love, loss, heartbreak, judgment errors, triumphs, failures, everything. There’s not a single significant event in my life that I can remember where Phil hasn’t played an integral part in either the achieving of it, or the getting over it. And so a couple of years ago, when Phil met Lisa, and I met her, and liked her, and they started talking about maybe someday getting married, I was thrilled. And a year and a half ago, when Phil proposed, and he asked me to stand up in his wedding, I was honored.
Phil and ITrue, the last few years we’ve had our differences. We haven’t been as close in the day-to-day way we once were. But our friendship has strong roots, and we’re tied together. And I am touched that Phil and Lisa chose me as a person to share their special day with them, in a role as unorthodox as our friendship has always been.
Phil, Lisa...I wish you guys much love and happiness. Beautiful, healthy children, and a home filled with laughter. You guys are amazing, and I love you both!
Cheers to my best friend and his lovely wife!
Phil and Lisa