I met Gil last June. Since then he's become one of my favorite people. We've been through a lot and are great friends - to the tune of hanging out as many as four or more days a week. We have much in common and make each other laugh. The truth is I'm quite a bit older than him. And not just a little, really quite a lot. But it didn't put any stops in our friendship. I've got a Peter Pan complex, remember? I act his age most of the time (not meant in any bad sense) anyway. [Most people mis-guess my age by as much as 15 years!] In fact, the age difference worked out well, for he'd been able to put me in touch with "current" ideas, culture and lingo and by the same token I've "taught" him a bunch of "old school" things. But usually, the gap straight up didn't matter a whit. Just an all around great buddy, my best friend here in the city [as opposed to Laughter, my true best friend - who, by the way, is also very fond of Gil.] So you can imagine how devastated I'd been when it came to pass that he'd be moving away!
Yep, an opportunity arose out of the blue, and he decided to jump on it. It wouldn't be any small move, either, but of the distance and life-changing variety. I'm here in Chicago and his plans would take him to Baltimore. Those plans? A sweet job [which would also involve trips to South America] and otherwise being just an hour or so from his home turf. Which meant not only would he be doing something he figured he would love, but also being that much closer to HIS actual best friend, not to mention other members of his family. Truly happy for him, I had to let that outweigh my sadness. And it did, but being bummed would creep in from time to time. And time seemed quite short. For he'd be leaving in just two weeks [from when the opportunity arose]! We'd been looking forward to a fantastic Summer of fun.
We decided to make the most of our time and spent nearly all of it together, more than usual if that's even possible. But as can be expected with expecting every moment to count, we'd grated on each other a bit. Don't get me wrong, everything had been and is fine between us. It's just that we needed some patches apart, too. Familiarity breeds contempt as they say... But the clock kept ticking, right? I'll be damned, though, if I didn't seem like I'd spent an entire two weeks crammed into one!
To put a fly in the ointment, as the saying goes, my excellent and long-time friend Sunshine came to town the final weekend that Gil would be here. I'd known about Sunshine's visit for a couple of months in advance [coming to perform in an Improv Troupe as part of the Chicago Improv Festival] and I'd been uber-excited for her to meet Gil. So you can imagine the turmoil and churning inside knowing I'd have to deal with dividing my time between the two of them - and that circumstances would prevent Gil and her from coming face to face.
I find it's nearly impossible for me to NOT relate events in my life to the tale of Peter Pan. So it's no surprise that I felt like him - and my favorite Lost Boy would be going off to grow up! Not that I'd be alone on the island by a long shot. But no one wants to see a best friend no longer be around, especially when the adventures together had been so sweet. And so, that's ONE way that my friendship with Gil ties into the art of storytelling. There's another, but I shall save that for a different post, as it deserves its own. For you see, as it turns out... this tale had been far from over!
I'd been ultra lucky enough to be able to spend all day Friday with Sunshine beginning with breakfast, joined by NutTree (a mutual friend from college) as well as Zoey. Sunshine and I had a magical visit full of reminiscing, running amok downtown, excellent improv theatre and laughs. Later in the day, I got to meet her lovely, funny and enjoyable friends who would be performing with her. They're friends of Sunshine, how could they not be utterly entertaining and wonderful folk? Even better, Doodles came in from the suburbs on Saturday afternoon and we had a great time as well. We met up with Sunshine, but of course (we had all gone to college together, you see), and we cheered for her in her moments of glory on the stage when performance time rolled around. For the record, Banky and Clara came to see her show, too! And Zoey again – oh. She’s a long-time friend of mine, along with Sunshine and Doodles. But I digress... I -had- been talking about Gil. But it's not as if his leaving had been out of mind during all of this joy either.
Gil had a window open on Sunday, so off I went to spend the day with him...(missing another performance of Sunshine in the process!) which I knew just might prove to be the last time I'd see him in who knows how long. But something happened. To put it in a nutshell: Gil had heard from the "other end" of things and apparently the tune of what would be happening changed. It no longer seemed so wonderful, one might go as far to say shady. Suddenly it did not seem like a good move (figuratively and literally) at all. But we weren't sure. A genuine dilemma. Thus, we (us and his sister) had been in limbo. Gil in a different and much more dire version of it, naturally. He had his whole future on the line! I’d just been dealing with the possible "loss" of a great friend. When I left that night the decision had still not been made - as info had yet to come from the other end. As much as I would love to have him stay, I certainly wanted the best for him. If only what’s best had been clear...
The next day he texted me to come over in the early evening. I’d be able to meet his mother (another Peter Pan reference!) for her plans in the city finally left a spot open. I’d been thrilled. I’ve talked with her on speaker-phone and heard great things about her. So I went off, got re-tracked (by Gil, in mid-transit) and wound up at a bar/grill with them. Needless to say, I now know why Gil's so charming - his Mom is pure delight.
I know you’re in suspense as to how this turned out. Just imagine how it felt for all involved, right? Over the course of the visit there in the booth, Gil let me know what had been decided. After all that roller coaster, full of bittersweet and emotionally charged incidents, he’s staying! He decided to give Chicago another go and make his major life shifts here instead. And he has! The very next day, would you believe it, Gil landed himself a sweet job. How great it had been to hear the joy in his voice when he called to tell me. Way to go, Gil!
So there you have it... QUITE a weekend, eh?
If there's one thing I've [re]learned over the past month, it's that if we think we know what tomorrow will bring, we're just pretending. Or, let me say it via a lyric from my favorite band:
All that you dream of will echo surprise – and all you have to do is just believe.