I wish the collective THEY would have told me the concept of time when I was a child. My life was simple. Unless I was “grounded”, I could walk outside at almost any given time and see a number of my friends. I never thought that someday I would mutter the words, “Let’s try and get together this year.”
My best friend lived three blocks away. His name is John Homans. We were like twins. We even had a similar odd colored baby tooth. John and I played sports together, hung out and talked.
Jeremy lived across the street. He was my first friend. We would play Star Wars games and spy on his older brother. Craig and Laura (Ho Ho) were like siblings to us. They still are. Ho Ho and I were inseparable. She was my first crush and I was probably hers. Jason Withrow lived down the street. He had the best yard for Football, as he had no trees. Sonya Traylor lived on the corner. Kia Skrine and “Ingy” were next to the Melograno’s. Julie and Robin lived adjacent to each other. They both were crushes of mine at different times. Eventually, the Bixler family moved in next door. Beautiful chaos ensued.
I was playing wiffle ball in my backyard with the gang in the late 70’s with my usual suspects. This kid walked up my driveway and introduced himself as Mike Dawson. He was brash and obnoxious. He moved to Shaker Heights from Kansas City, where he attended The Bartow School. He wouldn’t shut up about it. I liked him immediately.
As the years passed, some grew closer while others pulled apart. Mike and I became like brothers. I had three siblings while Mike was an only child. There was little rivalry between us. We had very few similar hobbies. I played baseball, soccer, and hockey. Mike was in the theatre and he liked to ski. John was a big skier too. We loved to get together in our free time.
Free time was abundant in my childhood. We weren’t exceedingly scheduled. Social apps didn’t dominate our lives. “Travel” sports weren’t a business yet. We played sports and had time to include everything.
I have been extremely lucky. I’ve had (and kept) multiple best friends. Ben and Sloaner entered my life in elementary school. We all liked one another. We all found commonality. We had this ability to respect our own journeys. Time was an abundant commodity.
Mike and I haven’t lived in the same city since 1990. John, Sloaner, and I haven’t lived near one another since 1991. Ben and I spent years apart until 5 years ago. In 8 weeks, Ben will be leaving too. Julie and I have seen one another once in the past 5 years. The last time I was with Craig and I were together we spent a day at the ballpark watching the Tribe at Jacob’s Field. Ho Ho and I met for ice cream two years ago.
The days of walking outside and seeing each other are gone. Why didn’t THEY tell us? Yes, there were signs. It started off innocently. We all left for school and met up at the Colony and Tavco for drinks on Thanksgiving. What THEY didn’t tell us was that the following year, fewer people would be there. Soon enough, that yearly meetup would be gone too.
In 2000, my wife and I welcomed our first child. in 2010, he would be middle-aged. In 2020, for no reason at all, he would draw his last breath. In the time since Jacob died, I’ve seen Julie and John once. I haven’t seen Sloaner, Craig or Laura. I haven’t seen Mike. Yearly hunting trips with Mike are now memories. “The Farm” has been sold.
I never appreciated time until it became a depreciating asset. 1984 was the last year I slept under the same roof with my big brother. In 1986, my sister left. My other sister left in 1989. I was gone in 1991. How could my daughter know that she’d wake up in 2021 without her brother? We didn’t know.
So, what’s the lesson? What can I learn from this? “Things” mean nothing. The latest iPhone means nothing. The size of my house and the latest model Tesla (I kinda want one though) mean fucking nothing. Less than nothing. I’ve NEVER vacationed with my siblings. EVER. I haven’t left home and visited any of my friends in years.
I’ve been living in fear for years. I am afraid of losing. Losing what? I lost money and survived. I’ve lost my son to cancer and somehow, I’ve gotten out of bed every day since. Yesterday, during my poker game, a friend poked fun that I might as well move to Chicago because I visit my daughter so much. True. I also get to see my favorite twins (Leila Dov and Katy), JK, and Zav. I get the privilege of catching glimpses of their kids as they navigate a vastly different world than we had.
I am learning the importance of action. I don’t want to be the person who says “we should get together soon.” I’ve been that person without any real meaning behind the statement. I was listening to a Podcast with Jesse Itzler recently. His story is fascinating. He was talking about the importance of his time. He quantified his example using his parents. He said,” Using an average life expectancy, my parents will live 5 more years. Most people would think that they have 5 more years with their parents. My parents live in Florida and if I see them twice a year for 4 days each, I will see them 40 times before they die. 40 times. Maybe less. Of those 40 visits, let’s say I decided to work while visiting or send texts and make calls. That time is even more fleeting.”
Jesse illustrates two great points. We need to commit to being present when we are present AND make decisions that give us more time. What prevents me from jumping on a plane to visit friends? What prevents me from trying something new? What prevents me from traveling and seeing the world? Money? Sure, to some degree. The real reason. FEAR. I am fearful. I let my own fears dictate how I live.
I want to see my friends. I want to take a trip with my siblings. I want. I need to spend less time wanting and more time doing. Jacob did. He died without regret. This is my goal too. I miss him.