April 27, 2006

Nathan

When I was in junior high school, I had this friend named Nathan. He was a nice guy but totally spineless, one of those guys you could push around, so desperate for friendship that he'd do about anything. I hate to admit it, but I used that, and him. I mean, he was a friend but maybe I took advantage of it from time to time. Nathan, however, never seemed dismayed by me or my attitude and honestly acted like a friend should.

After junior high school, I moved - not around the corner or across town but halfway across the country. New school, new friends - several of whom I count as friends to this very day - and new opportunities. During my senior year of high school, a new kid arrived. My class had over 400 students so, ordinarily, it would have been tough to pick a new kid out. But this guy was easy to spot. He was extremely tall, wore nothing but black, had more piercings than anyone else in school and had a mohawk. Amazingly, this guy was Nathan.

Here's the part that's tough to admit - I never once talked to him. Granted, it took me a while to be sure it was him, to corner someone who knew his last name. And there was always the appearance excuse I could hide behind, that he looked nothing like his former self. But once I figured it out, I was embarrassed and that embarrassment was two-fold - I hadn't recognized him, a former friend, immediately, and, worse, I'd treated him like shit when he was my friend.

What I'm saying here is that I don't have a fantastic track-record being a friend. I'm bad about keeping in touch, I pretty much suck when it comes to sacrificing my time for others. I am, overall, quite selfish. But I'm trying to change that. And despite being virtual, despite typing instead of talking, I consider you, who show such wonderful, heartfelt support to me and my family as you have for so long, wonderful friends. And I hope, just maybe, that I do okay in return, that I'm better than the guy who ditched Nathan.

Thereís lots of shit happening in the world, a lot of it really, really terrible. It is, therefore, very easy to lose sight of the fact that there are some really kind people in the world. You guys help me remember that everyday.

Thank you.

Posted by Chris at April 27, 2006 07:32 AM
Comments

I think you're a better friend than you think you are. Ok, so back in high school, you needed a giant noogie, but now you seem like a great guy.

I'm sorry about Pixel and I'm sorry I didn't get to tell you so sooner. You guys take care.

Posted by: Contrary at April 27, 2006 07:38 AM

That sounds totally typical for a high-schooler--especially a guy.

What counts is that now you realize it was a sucky thing to do. And I bet you wouldn't do it again.

Posted by: Alissa at April 27, 2006 07:47 AM

I think that you (the generic you, not the royal you) are always changing. And I think that it's impressive that you can now look back and say, "You know what? I wasn't a great friend then. But thanks for being there for me now guys. I really appreciate it."

I made ammends with an old friend from high school, and even though we're not best friends and we don't keep in regular touch - we both feel better having made the effort and apologizing for old things.

I'm not saying you should call Nathan. I'm just saying - you've changed now, based on how you addressed us today. And that's something to be proud of.

For the record: I, personally, love having you as a friend.

Posted by: Emily at April 27, 2006 07:51 AM

First of all - no fair making me all weepy at 7am!

2nd of all, virtual or not - a friend is a friend. Maybe we've never met, or never spoken a word aloud to each other, but... I am glad to count you among my friends.

And last but not least, I think all of us, somewhere along the line, have had a Nathan in our lives. Perhaps it's something we all need to experience. Something, that even though at the time, or even looking back, makes us feel like ass... makes us a better person in the long run, because in the end - most of us, won't ever let something like that happen again.

You're a good man Chris.

Posted by: Jenny at April 27, 2006 08:12 AM

I think the important thing is that you have grown and evolved-- but it sucks when those memories still rankle.

And still so sorry about the cumulative losses you guys have suffered.

Posted by: jen at April 27, 2006 08:15 AM

I agree with Jenny that perhaps we have all had a Nathan in our lives.

We grow and mature, and we (thankfully) are not rooted in our "schooldaze" tendencies. I think you are probably a great friend, and I'm honored to have this virtual connection with you.

So, you know, don't beat yourself up. You're a good guy.

Posted by: Alison at April 27, 2006 08:19 AM

"Have no friends not equal to yourself" -Confucius

I think, Chris, the feelings of "closeness" we share with you everyday are a reflection of what you give to us. I feel like I know most of your readers, and I hope they kind of feel the same. I was thinking of that last night, what it's going to be like on our island... :-) You are kind of like our Guru. *hee hee*

Posted by: JuJu's Mom Linda at April 27, 2006 08:28 AM

You know I hear Nathan was doing gay porn back then anyway, so you're probably better off.

Posted by: Pamalamadingdong at April 27, 2006 08:38 AM

Great post, Chris. We all love ya.

I'm so sorry about Pixel. Definitely not fair.

Posted by: Kris at April 27, 2006 08:46 AM

I find that as I get older, the harder it is for me to make friends. And I wasn't all that great to begin with, so I try to be really good with the friends I have. This is done, I'm sad to say, with varying degrees of success. It's all a process and the key, I think, is to surround yourself with trusting, patient people who will respect both your desire to connect and the need to sometimes be selfish with your time. At this stage in the game, it's about quality over quantity.

Posted by: pea at April 27, 2006 08:47 AM

HEY! I'm Nathan and I'm mad as hell.

LOL

Actually, I'm kind of a crummy friend too. After years of working in Human Resources I hate calling people on the phone, so all my old and faithful friends back in New Jersey (where I moved from THREE years ago) are lucky to hear from me once a year. Some of them still haven't heard from me except an ocassional Christmas card. I don't think it's as much selfishness as we're all so busy with our work, family, kids, pets, and the massive lego sculpture in the backyard -okay maybe not the last one, but my 10 yr old sure would be happy if that were true.

I think you're pretty cool to us. We can always rely on a good post from the Cactus -more than you can say for my site lately.

Posted by: HR Mommy at April 27, 2006 08:57 AM

I was pretty horrible in Jr. High and High school. I've definitely changed since those days and it sounds like you have too.

Posted by: MrsJoseGoldbloom at April 27, 2006 08:58 AM

Kids are cruel. *shrugs* Just the nature of the beast. You know, he might have been embarrassed by you. =) Straight laced fuddy duddy that didn't even have ONE piercing!! I mean COME ON!!! =)

Posted by: Lauren at April 27, 2006 09:07 AM

You are most welcome! I am an extremely friendly woman but don't have many friends. The friends I have I can count on one hand-but they are for life. I am loyal like that. It is hard to live in the area that I do and meet people of "like mind". The internet has afforded this group of people to come together and be completely unique in their own ways, yet contribute in similar ways. What a wonderful tool and a great way to reach out to someone you would have never been able to in the past. I firmly believe that I am either only a flight away or a keyboard away from those I love and care for. It is really just that simple.

Posted by: Jamie at April 27, 2006 09:16 AM

we are all terrible people in our own way in jr and sr high. the important thing is that we mature and grow and learn from the mistakes we've made. sounds like you have.

Posted by: suze at April 27, 2006 09:19 AM

Aw, that's so sweet! How very nice of you to recognize your bloggin' friends! And excellent of you to make an attempt to be a better friend to the people you know personally in "real life."

I have found that the people I "know" through the web treat me better than most of my "friends" in real life. All the girls whose weddings I've been in suck at keeping in touch and I totally resent them for it. Just had to vent that! Off to eat another donut...

Posted by: Liberal Banana at April 27, 2006 09:40 AM

Oh - and about Nathan - I think most of us have treated someone in a way that we're ashamed of. The important thing is to learn from it and try to grow into a kinder person, which you are now!

Posted by: Liberal Banana at April 27, 2006 09:42 AM

Holy moly, please can you put something weird on your head and take a picture to make me laugh because I am crying over here!

Everyone loses touch with people through the years, its hard to maintain contact just for the sake of contact. I dont think you are selfish for that. Its my 20 year class reunion this year and its just so bizarre to think about these people that were my friends 20 years ago. Some I have maintained contact with but for the most part I have lost contact with all of them. The ones I have maintained contact with, I sometimes wonder why I bother, because they have become lame adults. Time is a slimy bastard that changes or takes everything that we hold dear.

Posted by: linda at April 27, 2006 09:46 AM

I don't have this great friend track record either.

I made a pact with myself about 13 years ago to try and retrieve old friendships. I won't bore you with the epiphany..yes, there was one, but I have really stuck to it. I have gotten strange looks, hateful emails, complete cold shoulders, but I also have won back some people I really like.
This year at Christmas we made a family picture collage card. I sent it to everyone on our address list, everyone we hadn't spoke to in years, etc. On the card we said, we realize you're busy, so are we, but we don't want to stay out of touch with you. Here's our cell numbers, here's our email addy's....write, call, stick a note in bottle. The response has been OVERWHELMING. We feel so much richer, for truly the only wealth we'll ever have is the kids and our friends.

Google him, find him, say hi and paste your blog post in there. What have you got to lose.

The Pup, who knows nothing.

Posted by: speckledpup at April 27, 2006 09:48 AM

Anyone with a "perfect friendship track record" is probably selling Amway/Avon/Mary Kay or perhaps plans on running for office. In general, humans just don't know how to be genuinely and selflessly good to each other, which is why it is astounding and worth celebration when people ARE good to each other. (Hooray for this corner of the internetwebosphere!!)

So far as not sacrificing time for others, if you over-do giving others your time, you (as an individual, not a cog in a machine) become useless to everyone, including yourself because you are at great risk of losing track of big things like your own principles, or little things like forgetting how to rock out on your guitar. (This comes from a person damn near forgot how to play cello, with "too busy" as an excuse).

SO, pull yourself out of that mud already, have a great coffee, and listen to AC/DC's "Big Balls" and just TRY not to smirk at yourself.

"We've got the biggest balls of them all!"

Posted by: Betti at April 27, 2006 09:50 AM

How long ago was high school? I know you (virtually) as the person who talks about his wife and family lovingly and who is concerned enough about unruly neighbors who even though angry about the situation, is concerned enough to reach out for advice and try to help. (See, I remember what a read two weks ago).

Most of us grow up. I think you have.

Posted by: ann adams at April 27, 2006 09:58 AM

it's a cold world out there, and I firmly believe that we should take friendships wherever we can get them. Even on the web.

Posted by: kalisah at April 27, 2006 10:00 AM

We all have regrets about the past. If regrets were an Olympic event, I'd have several gold medals by now. That said, if you are only a fraction as kind in person as you are "virtually" speaking, you probably do just fine in the friend department.

Posted by: wordgirl at April 27, 2006 10:26 AM

Awe, I think that was just a part of growing up. The fact that you relize it now shows you are a better person. But I suck at calling people too, so don't beat yourself up over it.
p.s. I'm sorry about your kitty cats :(

Posted by: Bella at April 27, 2006 11:07 AM

You're not as bad as you think you are. People tend to judge themselves more harshly than they should. I'm sure that everyone has bits of their life, memories of things they have done that they aren't proud of (heck, I know *I* have, being a sucky friend to one particular person included); you aren't the only one, I promise you.

It is amazing, isn't it, how quickly people on the Internet and more noticeably the Bloggersphere become friends. I was startled by the speed, the intensity of it, and still am. I have so many people here that six months ago I didn't know, and now I care about as much, and in some cases more, than people I see and talk to and deal with face to face, and the most amazing thing is that after years of trying to change myself because I didnít feel I was good enough, these people, these friends have shown me that I donít need to, and that I am.

The world is an ugly place. And it's having these friends, knowing that good people, like you, exist out there that makes it bearable.

You're not "the guy who ditched Nathan"; you're a "guy who made a mistake", and I'm telling you (because obviously I am always right) you ARE a good friend, you ARE a good person, and that I need to thank you just as much as you are thanking everyone in this post for being there, because YOU, among others, are making the world a bearable place for me.

You are helping me to cope.

So, with that in mind; thank YOU.

:-)

Posted by: Alice at April 27, 2006 11:07 AM

Okay here's where I sound young again but... even just in the year since I graduated from high school I have noticed that my few friends and I have grown up a little in the way of keeping in touch and being more "selfless" to eachother. Granted, I'm also terrible at keeping in contact but I can definitely recognize good friend qualities in you (, grasshopper.) Things change in life but I know you are loyal and faithful to ones close to you... or else you wouldn't keep us so up to date with your life! :)

Posted by: kate at April 27, 2006 11:16 AM

aw, shucks, Chris, you're so sweet.

and i truly believe that people should all be forgiven for high school behavior.

i was a horrible, horrible mean girl to so many people in high school. i'm so embarrassed about it too.

Posted by: ali at April 27, 2006 11:36 AM

I agree with some of the previous posters, in that you at least now, what, 12-14 years later, realize what you did and you feel remorseful. THAT is how a loyal person would feel - so don't beat yourself up. We all do crazy, selfish things in our youth. Now that we are older/wiser, we know better. You just need to teach Little Mia the right from wrong :) You are a great person, and your family rocks - be proud of that!!

Posted by: Kell at April 27, 2006 11:41 AM

My family were like gypsies. We moved around A LOT. And bless the hearts of all the people I met, they always tracked me down and tried to keep in touch. Even today, 10 years later, I get calls out of the blue. But it's too difficult to recap all they've missed. It's too difficult to be supportive from so far away. It's too difficult to tell them that I'll only be a HORRIBLE friend who will always forget to write and call.

I'll be VP of your Horrible Friend club. We'll make promises of spiked bunch and forget to call each other. Then we'll forget we have a club. *YAWN* That's always how it goes. ;)

Posted by: Tink at April 27, 2006 11:42 AM

aww. Well then. I will accept that as your apology for not getting me an Administrative Professionals Card... ;)

Posted by: alfredsmom at April 27, 2006 11:51 AM

Well, all that may be, but you have no idea what would have happened had you chosen differently at the time. For all you know, you could have said hello to Nathan and he could have thought, "Hey! That's the bastard who treated me like crap when he was supposed to be my friend," and come to school with a gun one day to even the score (extreme, and unlikely, but you never know and THAT is the point). Or, maybe you had to be a bit of a schmuck then in order to turn out the way you are now--life lessons and all. You seem to have turned out just fine as far as I can tell.

Posted by: Jaycie at April 27, 2006 12:02 PM

I think everyone has a period in their life they're not exactly proud of, I know I do. I wouldn't worry about it because you're a good enough man to realize what you've done wasn't a good thing. If you hadn't felt any remorse for it then I'd be worried.

It's nice to have friends, even if they're virtual friends, to help you through those rough times. Hope things are looking up a little bit today for you and your family.

Posted by: Beth in StL at April 27, 2006 12:08 PM

I agree with the previous posters. If we all had to be held fully liable for idiocy committed back in junior high or high school, the Supreme Court of Asshattery would be choked with cases and the streets would be empty but for the tumbleweeds rolling by.

You've clearly grown up into a good man, with a family who adores you, and friends who care about you-- at least the virtual ones... maybe your real life friends cross the street when they see you coming. ;)

Are you signed up with Classmates.com? If you want closure with Nathan, he might be signed up there, and you could contact him. I did that with a friend who things had been strange with by the end of high school, and I think it really helped us both feel better about having been stupid teenagers at one point in our lives.

Posted by: Kate the Shrew at April 27, 2006 12:13 PM

Aww,(scuffs toe in dirt and squirms) we like you too!

Posted by: Nic at April 27, 2006 12:43 PM

Everyone does crappy things as kids. Hopefully, they grow out of it. You have definitely grown out of it. No need to beat yourself up.

So sorry to hear about Pixel. I know it has to be rough on all of you. Give Mia an extra hug for me!

Posted by: Kerry at April 27, 2006 01:08 PM

touche. There are a lot of kind people in the world and the blog world does remind me of that nearly everyday. You and your family ROCK Chris.

Posted by: amy at April 27, 2006 01:35 PM

You know, if you weren't a good guy, we all wouldn't come hang out at your place. You're funny, and smart and so is the Fish. You have an adorable baby, that makes me smile remembering when mine were that little. Might have never met you in person, (even though I'm just bit north in B'more, so who knows... one day I may run into on the Mall... )but you share your family, and are like a dear friend. Ok.. enough gooshy stuff. Nathan had a mohawk, huh? Maybe you could use the excuse you were scared... :)

Posted by: Karen at April 27, 2006 01:57 PM

Hugs to you and to Beth, and even Mia. (Cos she's cute, ok? I can't help it.)

I think the kitties that you took in say more about your and Beth's character than your one interaction you had with a guy back in high school. You cared and loved those cats very much, and you did whatever you could for them. And it seems to be a trend, n'est-ce pas?

Posted by: alektra at April 27, 2006 01:59 PM

Awww, what good is the internet if we can't use it to form friendships with random people who you wouldn't otherwise meet in life? Glad we could be there for you guys. Wish there was more to offer than hugs.

Posted by: Traci at April 27, 2006 02:03 PM

Chris,
Don't be so hard on yourself. Eveyone was an ass in junior high. It's part of life.

I'm glad you consider us all friends. Hell, I tell people I know that you guys are my friends.

Posted by: Melissa at April 27, 2006 02:30 PM

I agree with the others, I think everyone goes through this at some point in their lives.. I look back and I don't think I was as friendly as I could have been to a LOT of nice people.

I really push my kids to know that they don't have to be friends with everyone, but they do need to be friendly. I beleive that this thought has gotten my kindergartener through some difficult social situations already. She stands up for her classmates, and befriends those who are different.

Posted by: molly at April 27, 2006 03:18 PM

As I mentioned in sothefishsaid, to Beth, you are NO cold prickly. You are a warm fuzzy. You are good people.

Thanks for putting it out there. You make a better friend than you know. You are sensitive, kind, generous and full of humor. You are truly blessed with great karma. You have Beth and Mia.

Like Buzz and Woody, "You Have a Friend In Me"....

Thank you for keeping me up to date with the real world...

Oh, BTW, love what you can do with duct tape....hilarious...

Tootles,

Anni

Posted by: Anni at April 27, 2006 04:04 PM

Hey, stop it. Are you trying to let us all cry. Well you've done it!

Seriousely though, thank you for being you and for sharing your thoughts with us. It's been a joy to virutally know you, for.. like 3 years now? I really appreciate that and hope to one day meet you & your lovely family in person.

Posted by: Sweety at April 27, 2006 04:05 PM

You know what... it doesn't matter who you were or weren't in the past - what matters is that you realize it now. I had some friendship revelations of my own in the last few years - mostly that when you're our age, you get to pick your friends ... and if they're sucky, they're not worth your time. :) Anyway, you've been a great friend to us internet-peoples - and that's all that matters... he he. :)

Posted by: Jaime at April 27, 2006 04:06 PM

It has been fun reading your posts and hearing about the life you, Beth and Mia share.

You are so sweet about responding to comments. I think that qualifies you as a wonderful friend right there!

Posted by: Lisa B at April 27, 2006 05:36 PM

Don't feel bad about Nathan. We all chose friends who we have things in common with, that doesn't make you a bad friend. In fact, you're one of the nicest people I know.
Have a great weekend... (mine starts right now!!)

Posted by: Ava at April 27, 2006 06:59 PM

right back at ya, kid!

Posted by: jodi at April 27, 2006 07:13 PM

Amen...I've often felt the same way. BTW...I'm Ginny's sister in law. Her website is Ginny's Manys Words, I love reading yours and Beth's websites...They make me smile and laugh.

Posted by: Lisa Eggleston at April 27, 2006 09:09 PM

I think we all have some skeletons in the closet, but not a lot of us own up to them, let alone publicly, so you're a few steps ahead of the game in my book.

Since my router coughed out for a couple days, I wasn't "around" for your Pixel entries, so I'd like to take this opportunity to say that I know how hard it is to lose a pet, and that you have my sympathy.

Posted by: Gavin at April 27, 2006 11:29 PM

That was quite a post. I hope I get to be bunched in with all the rest. I think you must be a pretty good friend, you always get back to me and I know I am not the only one. Takes a lot of effort to do that. Friends do that.

Sorry I caught the late bus and am just now finding out about Pixel. I'm so sorry, it must be so hard for you guys to lose both of them so close together. Hopefully they found each other.

Posted by: Kate at April 28, 2006 12:05 AM

Good grief, I am so sorry to hear about Pixel.

In your "memoir" (working title: "A Million Little Keystrokes"), you can have Nathan show up as the vet's assistant. You don't say anything to him when you take the first cat in...but you have a breakthrough when you take the second cat in.

Posted by: nrp at April 28, 2006 02:10 AM

Your welcome and back at ya!!!!!
I couldn't feel or be more similar on this issue.
Have a wonderful weekend!

Posted by: Kelly M. at April 28, 2006 09:12 AM

Wouldn't it be awful if everyone remained the same people they were in high school? Christ.

I guess that's why we're "grown ups" now, huh?

Yikes. And? Whew.

Posted by: Pammer at April 28, 2006 10:04 AM

Hey - I consider you an amazing person in that you reply back to my comments and read my blog occasionally and post encouraging things to someone you've never met. That is a pretty good definition of friend to me.

Posted by: Heather at April 28, 2006 06:10 PM

A selfish person who needs to do better about staying in touch with friends? I'm feeling you there.

Posted by: Zandria at April 30, 2006 09:20 PM