I met my best friend Dave in kindergarten, when we were wee little guys. But I think it may have even been earlier than that.
Based on the timeline of when my family started attending Bible Baptist Church, it’s likely that little tiny Jeremy met little tiny Dave in Sunday School when we were both 3 years old. If that’s the case, then the two of us have now known each other for… drum roll please…
Four epic, memorable decades of being best buddies.
I mean, who stays friends for 40 years? It happens, sure, but it’s a blue-moon rarity.
Dave and I are those blue moons. And we didn’t just “grow up together.” We experienced every magnificent and mortifying chapter of adolescence, and beyond, at each other’s side. We were best friends through elementary, middle school, high school, and college. We shared in each other’s romantic joys and romantic devastations. And we continued having scattered adventures (and agonies) together well into our 20s.
Among those adventures/agonies is that Dave enlisted in the military, and he was deployed to Iraq. Post-Iraq, and during my road-tripping era, I visited him and his wife in various places they were stationed, including Washington (near Tacoma), California (near Monterey), Arizona (near Tucson), and Georgia (near Augusta).
Not everyone knows this about me, but I really got around back then. So much mileage on the ol’ Corolla.
[Since Dave might read this, I’ll say that my favorite random 20-something adventure with him was at Lake Superior, near Duluth, when he and his wife were traveling in a van with their legendary dog Chewy, and I was working at a canoe outfitter in the Boundary Waters near Canada. I’ll keep the memories private, but what a convergence. What a moment in time. Simply unforgettable.]
In our 30s, when I had moved to Colorado and Dave had moved to Georgia, our friendship was mostly just sporadic phone conversations — some happy and fun, and some sad and brow-furrowing. We lost track of each other entirely for 6 months here and a year there, in the fog of our increasingly complex lives.
But without fail, the moment I called Dave or we ran into each other back in Pennsylvania (while home for a visit), we picked up exactly where we left off.
Our 40 years together have been one long riveting conversation that starts and stops, sometimes for many months, but can never be derailed. No matter how long we’ve paused the conversation, it doesn’t take even one minute to hit play and shift right back into full best-buddy mode.
That is one of the marks of deep, enduring friendship.
There are many, many specific things I could tell you about Dave or the agonies (and adventures) we have shared. But I’ll keep those close to the vest. Partly in honor of Dave himself, who is a fairly private fellow — he chafes at Facebook and doesn’t put himself out there like his extroverted best friend. And partly because you likely don’t have 7-9 hours available right now to read our full unabridged saga.
But I’ll say this: I am deeply grateful that I happened to be born at the right place, at the right time, into the right family, so that I could cross paths with Dave in Sunday School, and later in Mrs. McGill’s kindergarten at Bible Baptist School, so that we could light a spark that would billow into a bonfire-level friendship.
Because here’s the thing: Dave is true blue. There are a lot people in this world who follow the crowd and play angles and craft narratives and run their ego up the flagpole on a daily basis so that everyone can salute.
And then, once in a great while, you’ll find a guy as unassuming and legitimately fascinating as Dave. If this happens, and if you’re lucky enough to become friends with that person, don’t let go.
Because Daves don’t grow on trees.
And if they did grow on trees, know what I’d do?
I would buy those trees, grow an orchard, and then give most of the Daves away (keeping one for myself as a backup in case I lose the real thing), so that others could experience the decades-long bond I was lucky enough to stumble into, and help build.
I’ll be sure to let you know if I find anything.