This weekend, a childhood friend named Carson visited Chicago for a bachelor party.
I met Carson and the bachelor entourage on Friday night for about an hour. They had an extra ticket for the Cubs game on Saturday and asked if I wanted the ticket. I said, “Yeah!” So I met the group up for the game on Saturday afternoon.
The Cubs got walloped, but no one cared. None of those guys had been to a Cubs game before, and they all got a kick out of the historical stadium. Whether you’re a sports fan or not, a Cubs game at Wrigley should be on your bucket list.
At the game, Carson and I sat together catching up. We haven’t seen each other in over 15 years. He told me how he met his wife while in Miami on a business trip. He currently works with his father in the furniture industry. He has a one-year old son. He has a masters degree in business. He is a genuinely good guy and good opportunity is certainly a part of his life.
I met Carson when I was about 12. Growing up, I lived in a suburban neighborhood in which we were free to roam within a good mile of our house without care. We could ride our bikes in the street without our parents worrying about cars running us over. And we could play deep into the woods that backed up to a lake.
My family moved to the neighborhood where I met Carson when I was four. The neighborhood was chockfull of kids about my age. My childhood best friend Rick moved in next door when I was six. And when I was around 11 or 12, Carson’s family moved in two doors down.
Carson was four years younger, which in kids’ years, that’s a helluva difference. Carson insisted on hanging out with the big boys, and he became a staple of our little tribe that played war, jumped curbs on our bikes, playing with Matchbox cars, G.I. Joe, and Transformers. We built forts in the woods and spent hours playing Nintendo.
In a pinch, Carson’s mom would ask me to babysit him and his little sister Katherine. It was never like real babysitting, because we were pals. When we were a little older, his mom and dad asked me to watch him and Katherine for longer periods of time.
Carson reminded me that the day of a trash pickup, we’d hose out one of the two-wheeled trash bins that all our houses had. One of us would crawl inside, and the rest of us would pick it up and we’d push one another around. Carson’s little sister would get in their and she couldn’t see over the edges, so she’d freak out and cry.
He also reminded me that I was able to mimic his mom’s distinct whistle that she used to call Carson and Katherine inside. Carson and I would hide in some bushes near where Katherine was playing, and I would do the whistle. Katherine would say, “Yeah, mom!” or “Coming!” She’d run to where we were, and not see her mom. When she walked far enough away, I’d whistle again. It would drive her to tears.
Carson and I would laugh and laugh.
One time I broke my wrist playing at Carson’s house on a rope swing. I remember helping him try to learn to ride a two-wheeled bike, only having to put his training wheels back on after a noble, tear-filled effort.
I don’t think his voice deepened before his family moved to the other side of my hometown. When I was old enough to drive, I stopped by his house a few times. We grew apart when I went off to college. And through facebook, we’ve had a chance to reconnect.
Carson thanks my brother and I for his deep-seated love of Star Wars and other pop culture that he might not have been exposed to without two huge fans of lots of popular toys and culture.
Sometimes, when you’re not faced with the past, you forget so much of your own history. I probably wouldn’t have known what influence I had on Carson if it weren’t for this reunion.
Excuse me while I go sing a honky rendition of “Memories.”