i distinctly remember the day we met. You were sitting next to our buddy Jorge at Kathy’s old coffee shop. He stole the stage with his heckling and ego, but you stood out too. I think it was the hippie necklace you were wearing. I remember noting that you must have come from somewhere else.
i saw you a few times after that. with a head nod of acknowledgment as we passed in the grocery store (not to be confused with a supermarket). then one morning, we were connected through a mutual friend. she wanted to take me on a bike ride from town to the East Fork over Table Mountain. the fellas at the coffee shop poo- pooed the idea. they said we’d get lost…we’d never find the way. you said you’d ride up to the divide with us. and off we went. the first 10 miles, of perhaps thousands, we’ve travelled together in the 15 years since.
as we passed single and double-track trails that led off the main route, you explained where each went. you assured us that “you can’t get lost, you can see those mountains across the way the entire time.” i got to know those mountains and their features so that i had the same confidence in not getting lost. what a world of difference it was from the sheltered deciduous forests of the east coast.
intuitively, we connected. on a parallel that i have no schema for. there is not a word i have come across that encapsulates the relationship we have developed.
my first winter living alone in Dubois was extraordinary. I worked with my NC office for a few hours first thing in the morning, and then headed up into the hills with you. I had no concept of what snowshoeing was, but suddenly i was learning it at 9,500 feet. You opened the door to the rest of my life. We are still doing that together 15 years later. you…every. winter. day.
the following spring, you showed up at my cabin door every afternoon at 2:30 ready for a mt. bike ride. i worked on east coast time, so i was ready too. you trapsed me up and down all the draws, till i learned them the way you know them. You, the fella from Long Island, introduced me to the topography that has become as familiar as my back hand.
In those days, daily happy hour mattered….and Friday happy hour mattered the most. you introduced me to most of the people i hold dearest today. you brought me face to face with them and said “i want you to meet my friend becki.” and they did. and now i am bathed in genuine, affectionate, authentic friendships that make my life so rich.
back then, we didn’t even know about sharing a love for Jeopardy. but once that became a thing, it was a THING. Before i had kids, once i had kids, and since i’ve had kids, Jeopardy together had remained a constant. the time i spend with you and Alex rooting for some contestants (and judging some others) is a highlight of every week…and we really nail those $200 clues.
when i was new to momming, you somehow knew how to help. you showed up at the right time to offer a front porch sit while i took a 30 minute bike ride. or you came to deliver a 6-pack and try your hand at the airplane delivery system to my toddlers. you did not avoid me. you showed up. every day. and you were pissed when i chose to move out to the edge of it all.
i got it. the hardest part of the decision was leaving you. we had become interegal in each other’s daily lives. it still remains the biggest drawback to changing our location.
but you remained steadfast. when i declared that i’d be riding my bike in the Tour Divide, you became my Mick. Always available at my side to encourage what i was doing, but gently letting me know i could be better. one day when i was riding my bike to Lander, you showed up next to me at the Diversion Dam with a bike pump, knowing that i could use a little air. another time, when i was riding my bike in the bitter cold with a loaded trailer behind me thinking about quitting, you showed up with a pair of mittens that completely changed my day. when i sent out my distress call from Grassy Lake Road, you elbowed everyone else out of the way and said you were coming for me. (or at least that’s how i imagine it played out.) seeing your truck come round the dusty corner after 1,300 miles painted on a smile on my face that i never had a canvas for before. those tailgate beers were superb.
You’ve babysat my plants, my dogs, and my kids. When my family or friends come to town, you show up. In fact, you are the showing-uppest person i’ve ever met. For concrete pours to irrigation pipe pulls…you support the action of your friends however you can. I still appreciate all the time you put in at my old cabin to start fires in my wood stove so that i would not return to a cold house. You are incredibly considerate and generous.
I’m not the only one. The community of friends you have chosen to be your family here all agree. You make us more loving people. You teach us time and time again what it means to be a friend. I truly did not know the depths of the definition until i met you. i am a better friend to everyone one in my life because of what you’ve taught me.
Like I said, i’m not the only one: Weaver, Neil, Leon, Vanuga, Ali and Noah, Mike and Jen, Traci and Joe, Brit, Mike S., Lori and Dan, Luke and Katrina…Tom, Charlie, George, Richie, Ray, Jim…. You have never let a solid relationship fade away. you keep in touch, and you have taught me to make certain to do the same.
all of that seemed like enough. i was already so over-the-moon grateful for every single day that we get to share our lives with you.
and then you jumped the shark. you blew the lid off any friendship i ever knew possible.
when your Explorer rolled in behind my Subaru, i couldn’t really place it on a branch of anything i knew. so i didn’t try. all i knew is you showed up for me. when i was 100% devoted to the awfulness of my situation, i felt your hand on my shoulder. you came to care for me while i was busy caring for Birch. I cannot imagine how terrible that felt for you. i can only imagine that it took great love. i do not know how i got so lucky.
you are not just an incredible best friend to me, but to every other person you have chosen. we are all fortunate fools. if i had the chance to toast to your 75th birthday all over again, i would say this.