I first met you in the courtyard of our Apartment complex.
You were walking your Boxer. Your buzzcut, upright posture and tattoos immediately revealed that you were military. I welcomed you to the complex and happily found out that you lived above me. I told you we should hang out.
I learned your story. You were active duty Army, 3 tours in Iraq and Afghanistan as an MP. You were stateside and reassigned as a Recruiter. Your wife and 2 beautiful daughters were so happy to have you home. I immediately respected you.
You were half my age. You sought my friendship and advice over frequent drinks. As we became close you alternated between treating me as a friend and a father figure. I was happy to be both.
We worked out together. You hated the fact that I was twice your age but could outrun you. Eventually you asked me to help you get in better shape to pass your PT test. I threw pebbles at your balcony window to wake you at 6 am to go for a run. Most times you didn’t feel up to it. You were hung over.
You desired fitness, but you were a slave to Alcohol. You didn’t deny it. You couldn’t just have a drink, you could only get hammered. Jack Daniels was your best friend and your wife was getting jealous of your relationship.
I tried to get you to slow it down. I warned you of the damage you were doing to your family. I treaded lightly because I knew you had seen some shit overseas and needed your coping mechanisms. But I saw the writing on the wall.
Eventually, your wife, tired of you passing out on the sofa and your belligerent behavior when drinking grew tired of your antics and sought solace in the arms of another. A mutual friend had betrayed you, broke a cardinal law and coveted your wife. When you found out, you went on a binge.
I got your call at 11 PM on a Sunday night. You were very drunk and driving around. Your life, your marriage and your military service were on the line. I pleaded for you to park your car and let me come get you. You succumbed. I drove an hour to pick you up. I offered to take you home but you didn’t want to go. I took you to my home. We talked into the early hours of the morning. You were heartbroken. Angry. You wanted to lash out. The one person you refused to blame was your own self. I listened to you, talked when appropriate and tried to set you on the right course. You passed out on my bed. I slept on the floor that night. You were worth it, we were friends after all.
The next morning, while I was at work you called me and thanked me for my friendship. You promised that you were going to make it right with your wife.
You went home to find your bags packed. It was over. You moved back into your mother’s house the next day.
We promised to stay in touch. Due to the distance we were reduced to the phone and Facebook. I monitored your progress through Facebook until the day I noticed that I wasn’t seeing your feeds. You had “unfriended” me.
I called you and asked you why. Was it a mistake? It had to be, after all, we were such good friends weren’t we?
You told me that because I was FB friends with the guy that banged your wife you couldn’t be friends with me. I was flabbergasted. Could you really be that childish? As it turned out, you could indeed.
I pride myself in doing for the sake of doing, not for recognition but I lowered myself to asking you if my friendship and the associated deeds mattered to you. You said they did but you couldn’t be friends with me in real life if I was FB friends with the other guy.
I asked you if you had fully thought this through. You told me to “unfriend” him and it will all go away. I refused. While I wasn’t thrilled with what he did, it wasn’t my place to judge him and there was a principle involved. I told you so. You stood firm.
I made it easy for you and I told you that we were no longer friends.
I hope you do well in life, my friend. I regret the manner in which I lost touch with you. I enjoyed your friendship and I also valued it. More than the “Friends” list on a stupid Social Media outlet. But that’s the difference between you and I. That, and accountability. And honesty. And the appreciation of true friendship.
I hope you do well in your journeys. Should you ever grow up, you know where to find me.