So I just spent an incredible two days with a woman.
So the journey that brought me to that statement probably started sixty some years ago. When I was a little kid in Iowa, we got an allowance just like most kids. I spent that twenty-five cents on a Mad Magazine and thus the journey was started. That twenty-five cents disappeared like water down the drain but it was worth it. I always laugh at the back page of Mad Magazine…but I digress. The point is I was and always have been a reader. I still went outside and played with my friends but also got yelled at to turn my bedside light out and go to sleep at night. And that Mad Magazine was the gateway drug to my love of comic books. Fast forward to the 70’s, ah the 70’s. I’ve told the story before in another place about discovering comic book stores but that brings me to my first friend who would help influence my life. The store owner was a cool 70’s type guy. Also addicted to cocaine but like I said a 70’s guy. He was a smart guy though and kicked the addiction. That friendship would carry me thru the rest of the century. He suggested me for a job in the 80’s that lead back to helping him run his empire of comic book stores and that lead to a friendship that helped take me down another path. The journey continued into the 90’s. What a decade! It was my aha decade. In the 90’s I ran one of the comic book stores in this empire and so met another friend who would alter my life once again. I discovered D&D thru that friend and I continued to read. Over the last few decades I’d started dabbling with writing, never anything I’d show anyone but I could dream, right? So as Y2K approached I made another decision that would change my life. My latest friend, who now had a wife(who I also considered a friend), and a young son (who would again become a friend), had moved to another city, Bellingham. I decided that I needed a change of life. Seattle was becoming too much of a big city and don’t get me started on the traffic. So I moved. With that move the next steps of the journey began. Part of that move included a new job. I spent the 2000’s working at the new job, reading and occasionally writing stuff that would never see the light of day. I met more friends as friends introduced me to their friends and so the circle got bigger. Thanx to this I quit one job and started a new job. Again thru a recommendation from one of these friends that had become part of my life. We all had similar interests but also each had an interest that the others might not have learned about if we’d never met.
By this time I’d started worrying about my weight. I’ve always been a heavy or as it was fashionable to say back in the 60’s, big boned guy. I’d ballooned up to 304lbs, yes very specific number. At 5’8″ that was totally unacceptable and rather dangerous if I planned on fulfilling my dream of living forever. So working with a nutritionist in the mid 2000’s I’d gotten down to 250lbs. Still not great but way better than the 300 number. Of course once I stopped going to the nutritionist I gained most of it back. Did I go to the gym, you ask? Damn right, but with no direction or accountability it made no difference. At this point it was 2010 and I was still reading whenever I could. The writing was also happening, but hidden away like a Playboy magazine hidden under the bed, only coming out at night when the urge surfaced. A lot going on for me at that point in the journey but it was getting ready to take me on a new friend path. As I said I’d gained back a portion of the weight I’d lost, back up to 280lbs. Rather disappointing if you ask me. Don’t worry I’d realized that now was the time to ask for help. So I did, amazingly enough. My gym offered personal training with certified trainers. I’d thought about trying it out and now was the time to get off the couch. So my next step on the journey turned out to be my biggest, in hindsight. And one of the most influential.
So to summarize, I’d been pretending to write for a few decades, I’d kept most of the fast food restaurants in business in the 70’s, 80’s, and part of the 90’s. I’d joined multiple gyms over those decades and now I was ready to try to make amends. So I met the trainer, Lorinda, we talked about what I wanted from her. I was adamant that I didn’t want a drill sergeant and I wasn’t interested in the latest craze at the time, Crossfit. She agreed that that wasn’t the best move for me. So we agreed to meet that Sat to start this new journey. So I am going to digress here for a moment and say I only saw this as a monetary relationship that was going to get me to the goal of living forever. There was no expectation of anything beyond that. Now it makes me laugh at my naivety in hindsight. Yes Lorinda is the woman mentioned in the opening sentence. So more digression and an explanation. First she’s a beautiful woman inside and out. Yes I was very happy that this woman was willing to work with me and so as time went on I grew attached to her. One day, as she was laughing at a stupid story I had just told, I realized she wasn’t just a casual acquaintance but had become one of my friends that I counted on in my life. Then mind blown as she, with no prompting on my part, let me know she thought of me as one of her friends also. About this time it came up that, yes she was a lesbian and was even getting ready to marry her sweetheart (another woman who would become a friend of mine). Then she told me about her memoir she was writing about her life. She even shared some of it and it made me cry for my friend. In a casual conversation when she was making me groan and sweat on the weight machine I mentioned something writing related. She looked at me and almost demanded I expand on my comment. Sheepishly I admitted to the bits and pieces of writing I’d pretended to do over the years and with that the next step was taken. She cajoled me into showing her some of the goofy stuff I’d written over the years. How surprised was I when next we met she had high, well not really high but still praise for my attempts at something I’d always considered a pipe dream. After all I hadn’t gone to college and was barely able to tell a comma from a semi-colon. I could spell with the aid of a dictionary and where did the noun and verbs really go?
So it’s been seven years of sweat, laughter, and fears, and it brings us back to that opening line. By the way, shame on you for assuming the meaning of that opening line. Again this friend of mine, still makes me smile when I say that, convinced me to stretch and move considerably outside my comfort zone. Those two incredible days I’ve mentioned? I attended the Chuckanut Writer’s conference during those two days and I would have never even considered doing that if it wasn’t for my friendships with all of my friends that lead to my friendship with Lorinda. And it gets better. She then convinced me to actually read some of the story she’d pushed me to start writing, to a room full of strangers. Again so far out of my comfort zone it’s not even in this galaxy. They laughed at all the funny parts and no one got up and walked out as I was reading. So there’s that.
I would never have written any of this if it wasn’t for all the friends I’ve met and made over the years of my life. So thank you all for being my friend and putting up with my weirdness. That journey of friends lead me to this moment in my life and I wouldn’t change one step of that path. And that path lead me to Lorinda. My friend.