A good friend of mine just finished reading “The Catcher in the Rye.” Although he didn’t like it, I loved it. But, the last time I read it I was a senior in high school, going through a very rough patch, and really identified with the main character, Holden Caulfield. High school was a nightmare to me, as I’m sure it is for a majority of the population. I went to a really small rural school where I graduated with 51 other people most of whom I had gone to school with since kindergarten. By the time we were seniors, we hated each other and gossip was the main form of communication. Being that I was a little socially awkward to begin with, most days were just hell.
I went to Ohio State for a couple of reason, but mostly because it was the largest school in the nation. Not only were there endless possibilities, it meant there were possibilities to find new friends. Or I should say, friends at all. I dove in head first at OSU making the crew team, being in honors engineering, getting involved at church, joining a sorority. And I made great friends. Life long friends. I’m still really good friends with the first person I met at college. She still lives in Columbus and we keep in touch occasionally. I have friends who has met, married, and had children with other friends. We still hang out. We still talk on the phone. These were the kind of friends I always longed for.
At my previous company I made these types of friends. The days they weren’t at work were painful. When I got offered a new job, I thought long and hard about leaving and truthfully it was because of them. I hated my job there, but I loved my friends and I thought the sacrifice might be worth it. In the end, though, I chose the new job. Leaving was hard. Many tears were shed on the way home on my last day. Since then I have spoken to them every day either through e-mail or phone calls. We’re having dinner together in a few weeks and we’re planning to get together throughout the summer. I have had a really tough time adjusting to the new job. I like the work better, but I have only made one friend here and that’s only because I basically said, “do you want to be my friend?” I am so happy to have made my friends at my previous job and although I miss them painfully every day, I know they are a few clicks or one dial away. They will always be my friends.
Since I graduated college, I have coached high school track. I looked forward to it every spring. Last year some things changed so I decided not to come back this year. Practice started on Tuesday without me. I met Andrea yesterday at the school for our Wednesday midweek long run. I got to the school early and checked out track practice. There were lots of “Hey Coach Gordon’s” and lots of hugs. I miss the kids, but I feel empty without being around the other coaches. Those other coaches over the years have become my friends. They made standing in the snow for 8 hours bearable. I always wanted to stay after practice and hang out with them even though I had 12 miles to run. I would smile every time I got an e-mail from any of them or they called me and said hello with a “Hey baby!” Yesterday the head coach let me know that my contract has not been taken by anybody else and if I wanted to come back I could. He said I could coach anything I wanted. And….I’ve paused. Truthfully, I can’t go back. I left for very specific reasons and those reasons haven’t changed. But I also feel that coaching is like gravity and I just can’t seem to get out of the force field. There is no doubt that I’m going to be around, a lot, but I’m not sure I can dedicate the time to it that I need. For now, I’ll continue pausing.
In six weeks I turn 30. This is a milestone I have been looking forward to and dreading for years. After tumultuous teenage years, my 20s rocked. I have done the coolest things and experienced things I never dreamed I would do. And I couldn’t have done it without my friends.
So for my friends out there who read my blog, this is your virtual hug. Thank you for being my friends.