I Didn’t Come Here For a Haircut

I had just gotten off the phone with a buddy of mine I hadn’t seen in three years. He had just arrived in San Francisco and I offered that we meet either at 3:30p before the Notre Dame game (to get good seats at the bar) or 7:30p after the game.

“Let’s meet at 3:30p. I didn’t come here for a haircut.”

And so began an amazing Saturday afternoon.

I met my buddy Gordon and his wife Tasha five years ago in Chicago. They are magnificent people; and great friends. We met one St. Patrick’s Day weekend celebration. I was with friends on a trolley (cos that’s what you do in Chicago on one of the best celebratory weekends of the year there). The trolley ended at Richard’s, that old man dive bar the only rival to Marie’s Riptide Lounge (RIP). Within moments, we became fast friends. They were friends of Tad’s who met Gordon on a surfing trip in El Salvador a number of years before. Not knowing anyone in Chicago and new to the city, turned out they had randomly moved just a few short blocks away from me in The West Loop. That made for some amazing times before they moved to Miami. Gordon was an adventurer in the truest sense, having visited almost seventy countries, and living in a few of them. I learned from him how to be accepting of different people and different perspectives. He always had an ear for his fellow person. And he always made time for those he cared about. Fast forward to today…

Gordon and I met at the Tipsy Pig where we became friends with everyone who was at the bar that evening. Typically shoulder-to-shoulder packed on the weekends, I avoid it like the plague, but with the Thanksgiving holidays, I knew it would be a low key evening there, which is when I liked it the best. The food was good. The drinks were good. The staff was friendly on those days. Some of those new-found friends beckoned us for dinner which we eventually obliged. Gordon and I left to meet other friends before calling it a night.

A couple weeks later, I found myself at The Waldorf in Manhattan. I had taken the Amtrak from Washington, DC earlier in the day. I was surprise visiting my buddy Ryan, who was in town for a conference; in cahoots with our mutual friend Christine, who helped organize the surprise. Ryan and I had met over fifteen years ago, through Derek. I met him and Garrett at the same time, and when Derek moved to Los Angeles, they ushered in what I always call in my life, the Golden Years of Chicago. They had just graduated from Auburn; and through them, I rediscovered what it was about Chicago that I loved so much. Every moment with Ryan was an adventure. Ryan was the type of person who always had your back; in fact, he was usually the first in line.  It had been almost two years since Ryan and I had last seen each other, since the NCAA National Championship Game in Pasadena between Auburn and Florida St. When Ryan and I saw each other, it was like no time had passed. And before we knew it, we had gone to celebrate Frank Sinatra’s 100th birthday at the Jazz Standard, have an amazing dinner at Tao (that lasted till 1 AM) with friends, stood on the rooftop of The Standard Hotel, the Maru lounge in K-town, and more importantly, tons of good talks and good laughs.

Fast forward another week to when I was in Washington DC visiting my sister. And there, I caught up with one of my oldest friends Steve and his awesome wife and his two loving and talented kids. Meeting in junior-high, he picked on me at first. However, by the beginning of high school, he and my other buddy Rahul became my two closest friends. A force of nature where he approached everything in life like it was the first time he had ever done it and last time he would ever do it, he challenged me to be outside my comfort zone more than anyone I had ever met until that point in my life. As the years passed by during our high school and college years and the thereafter, I would come to find how kind and loyal a friend he truly was. And though we met as kids, most years won’t end without at least one visit.

In short, whether in San Francisco or in New York City or in Washngton DC, time with friends are epic times. They always have been for me.

I very much believe that people come into one another’s lives for a reason, and at the very moment when they are needed. Some people remain in each other’s lives for a lifetime. Others pop in and out. Others still only stop in for but a moment. One is not better than the other. They all serve a purpose; and hence why we all have a purpose. And they are all good.

I realized something those nights with Ryan, Steve and Gordon that always pops into my head any time I am with close friends of mine. While distance and responsibilities and life have a way of getting in between friendships, for me, it has never diminished the closeness I feel and the affection I have for my close friends.

Today is ‘hug-a-friend’ day.
Come to think of it, everyday is ‘hug-a-friend’ day.

Today is also ‘share-a-pint-with-a-friend’ day.
I love celebrating this day.

Go Adventure. Go Travel. Go Live.

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