Saturday, June 19, 2010


Since my itinerary was blank and I had no scheduled flight outings on this particular night, I decided to take the time and visit my local club and have a cocktail and proceed with whatever the evening may have to offer. While it always seems like the thing to do in going out on a Saturday night, it was one thing I always dreaded doing. Upon entry of any club I would always sit facing the exit sign and usually make an early getaway. On this particular night, a new flight passenger traded in his ticket for a night in the town and promptly procured a seat next to me. I did not make the initial conversed contact but somehow we ended up speaking and enjoying the time just sitting and passing the time. It was one of those moments that you realize intuitively that you have something in common with this particular human presence and at that spark of connectivity a new friendship blooms. Twenty nine years later a person like me writes about the person that I have had the privilege to know in an era of time.

He was certainly unlike most of the people that I would call acquaintance or friend. The life information that I was privy to on that meeting definitely set him apart from the rest. It seems he was from the great state of OHIO and grew up in a wonderful loving close family and had just recently moved to the fair city of Atlanta. College had just pushed him out the door and he was making his way into the city life of the south. It was a bit of a shock to his system, but his naivete and his youth were his saving grace. He was intriguing, funny and offered me insight into the world of theatre and costume design and made it clear that was where he wanted to make a living. I dug deep to reach areas of his brain and asked him in detail about all the things of which he shared on the topics of his interests.
I was mesmerized to find out this wealth of information and that created a seat on my next flight destination into the world of theatre and all its entities.

He made it out of the baby boomer generation by being born with a 1960 birth year. Eventhough eight years separated us there was a bit of a generation gap, and I took on the role in a rather fatherly way of offering a helping hand in the future that we would share as friends. At the time he was sharing an apartment with a uniquely different chap who at times spooked my new friend and he was researching a new place to live and as fate would have it I offered space in the new home that I had just purchased. I had not lived with a roommate but it was a decision that definitely sealed the long term friendship. The amazing gift of decoration spilled out of him as easily as an artists rendering except with material appliques. He could arrange anything and have it stand out as an art piece. His eye for color and texture was amazing. The ability to sketch a costume and see it unfold in its material was as beautiful as a rose unfolding before your eyes. The intrinsic detail with which he worked was something to watch.
He was laden with many ideas of what to do and where to go with his brilliant talent. Soon Dame Fate showed him her card and then another bout of college carried him away to procure his higher degree. It was there that the he walked the halls toward a theatrical costume master education that he would unfortunately grow to detest, at least for a time period. The political endurance's that came from within the teachings of college would have an effect on his psyche and would lead to conflicts in learning to resign oneself to an authority figure. That one area we both shared, as being told what and how to do it was not our best area in complacency of life. As father time moved on he completed the degree and came back to start a more focused direction into his chosen talent.
It was truly a love hate relationship when it came to matters of design, fabric and materials. Deadlines and time restraints would always be pushed to the very second of that particular timeline and days and nights would meet one another and somehow he would always pull through to complete what was expected of him. It was maddening yet curiously enviable to watch it all smooth out in the end. We shared the common fact that most people annoyed us which created some very hilarious moments if others were to be involved. He was much more outgoing than I and his family roots kept him grounded. We experienced the passing of our Mothers, both within a short time of our newly found friendship. I envied the strong family unit that moved him through that experience with love and grace and remains that strong to this day.

We embarked on a business together, it would be something that would garner us both a bit of local fame and local pain. It was a choice we would both commit to and see it through to its end. It perhaps was the biggest struggle in dealing with the people that annoyed us the most and knowing that we had to rely on each other for backup in any situation of executive decision making. That put us into a drivers seat which would take us down roads with ruts and potholes yet we would always find the asphalt after the endurance test. It strained us both physically, mentally and emotionally and still we held tight to that hidden friendship line that no one else could see.
We always knew that the universe would deliver the time when we would walk away from our success with a positive outcome. When that time appeared we graciously celebrated the finale and could feel the weight removed from our shoulders. To this day we smile and have come to realize that we took a chance and lived to tell and carry with us the incredible story of what great success came from sharing an idea.
When the business sold we took our resources and recreated new home environments. He moved on to his separate living space and once again worked his magic in designing the areas of life that he occupied. There would be people who moved in and out of our lives and still the our bond was there for each to count on as it is to this day. I always hoped that I encouraged the right things and felt that we showed each other experiences that altered our lives in a positive way.
I look at him as a late bloomer and can see that he carried himself through all the good and bad. The trials of another business would be successful but it would take its toll on his private life that was so needed to balance any existence. Still, all in all he would move on to become the enigma that he most detested in the world of college life.
The role of "teacher" and mentor was to be his gift of next career path. This would create a better understanding to what was annoying at another time and place in his life. As with most of us, impetuous youth will always trigger a lack of patience and selfish thinking. It was in this role that he would look at things in the same way that his mentor did and would come to understand the answers to those questions asked long ago.

My long time flight partner would have held many accolades if Hollywood and Broadway would have called. Ah...but then again that would include too many people and would have to bring about too many unavoidable groups and paparazzi that would have been witness to the tongue lashings that would have been the front pages of Enquirer and Star magazine.

Often I hold silently an awe of inspiration that comes from knowing this person for many years. The joy of returning back for visits and evening reminiscence is a private delight to share. A telepathic link connects us even when we are not in contact for a period of time. We will still have the opportunity to take new flights together and though we have mileage between us the shared memories will soar us to destinations past and will define the airspace for the future shared flights.

I look forward to sharing the cocktail cart on that celebratory flight to his life's half century mark. I am sure that the spirits will flow through our veins, and the next day after the partying, I will know for certain that I will no longer have to be the only one getting the special discount on meals and cocktails. We then will be traveling together in the well deserved senior first class sharing the incredible view of what autumn in life has to offer.

1 comment:

  1. Sparkle Neely, sparkle. This damned light text on a dark background is nearly impossible to read with tears streaming down your cheeks. Who designed this? Cheers, my beloved friend Jon, cheers!