By Graham Glover –
This past weekend, I spent an evening with two of my closest friends from childhood. I’ve known these men since I was in sixth grade. One was my best friend and high school debate partner. The other is married to my wife’s best friend and is the father of our godchild (who is my daughter’s best friend). I was in both of their weddings and baptized all their children. I haven’t lived in the same town as these guys for nine and a half years, but every time we get together, it’s as though little has changed. Life has taken us in somewhat different directions—one is an insurance agent, another is a lawyer, and I am a clergyman—but there remains a bond of friendship between us that will never break.
I’m not sure if I was feeling nostalgic for my hometown or masking the stresses of moving from one side of the globe to another, but a moment of pure contentment overcame me last Saturday night. After pre-dinner cocktails, a stop at a new cigar bar, and dinner at a phenomenal sushi restaurant, we made our way to one of Gainesville’s best downtown bars. The conversation, drinks, and laughter had been flowing freely all night, and the six of us (wives included) found ourselves playing table shuffleboard with a cover band that I’m pretty sure I liked performing loudly in the background. Again, perhaps it was a fleeting sentimental moment, but glancing up from the table, with the women beating us badly in a game I’m not sure any us fully knew how to play and a glass of Swamp Head beer in my hand, I found myself not wanting the night to end. In some respects, it seemed like we were back in high school (or at least in college… we were at a bar). Over thirty years after we first met, here we were, enjoying one another’s company late into the night, and I couldn’t have been more pleased. Two of my best friends along with their brides (and my own) were thoroughly enjoying ourselves. But it wasn’t just the good food and drinks, marginally decent band, and a fun bar game that made the moment memorable. It was the deep, enduring friendship that has existed for over three decades. It is these friendships that have endured the test of time that are so important in life.
These buddies of mine know more about me than most. We knew each other during those awkward middle school times. We did our fair share of stupid things in high school. We all knew the others’ first crush. College, even though one went north, found the fun times continuing. From summer camp to high school spring break, football games to endless nights out in the greatest college town I know, I can’t count the number of memories I have with these guys. We took a few different paths from college forward, but our friendship and our lives remain intimately connected. We were there at each’s wedding and many of the important occasions which followed. I’ve said and done some of the dumbest things in my life with these guys. I’m certain they respect the office I hold, but they knew me well before I was “Revered” Glover. And I’m absolutely certain this is how they will always remember me.
Again, each of us has lived somewhat different lives. The two of them still live in our hometown, and as I’ve written about and alluded to several times before, Gainesville will one day be my family’s home again. There are times when I’ll go months without speaking to them and seeing them can sometimes be problematic as Uncle Sam takes my family and me all over the world. (I’m sure the same difficulty is true for them even though they live in the same town). But I know I can count on these men. I know our friendship is and always will be strong.
And such is the joy and importance of friendship, especially friendships like these that have somehow endured for years on end. These friendships are where contentment in life is found, and experiences like last Saturday night create moments that will last forever.