Beginnings of beautiful friendships | Chuck's World
A couple of names have been changed in this story, but only because I forgot to ask for permission first. Nothing diabolical. I’m not protecting privacy or holding secrets, just being spontaneous but appropriate.
That’s me in a nutshell. Unprepared but usually polite about it.
One of the names is Molly, who was in a picture I saw recently, but first we have to time travel.
It was August 2004, near enough to the 10-year mark to round it off. A decade ago, I had some fatherly business to attend to, and I wasn’t all that excited.
After a pretty miserable summer spent here in the Northwest, most of it trying to find a job, my daughter returned for her sophomore year in college at the University of North Texas.
Since Texas is her mom’s home state, and UNT her mom’s alma mater, it seemed right and natural that her mother accompany her the year before.
I got to stay home with my 14-year-old son and mope, wander around the house and wonder how a 3-year-old girl could grow up so fast. It was the easy part.
The next year, though, I got the parenting assignment, and in fact more than one. My mission was not only to help Beth (that’s her real name; after all these years, my daughter’s privacy is hopelessly shattered) move her stuff into a dorm room, but also to buy her a car.
I never saw myself as the kind of parent who buys cars for his children, mostly because my parents never bought cars for me, but this felt necessary.
She was in Texas, after all, with wide-open spaces, and she needed to get around, find a job (again) and a way to get to said job, etc. And we found an inexpensive used car online at a dealer in Arlington, not too far from the airport.
So that was the first day. Flying, handing over cash, and then heading down to her grandparents’ house, where her boxes of whatever stuff she left in Texas were stored.
I don’t need to get into Texas weather in August. You can figure that out, if you don’t know. Let me just say that I have seen ants sweat in Texas in August.
I’ve seen armadillos wipe their brows and wear an expression that essentially says, “Shoot me or find me shade, I don’t really care which.”
It’s more miserable than unemployment, in other words, but there I was, a good 70 pounds heavier than I am right now, hauling cardboard boxes up and down stairs in between writing checks and trying not to drip on them.
I was a soggy father, joined by a not-so-soggy fellow parent, the father of Molly, Beth’s new roommate.
Beth and Molly had been in a class together the year before, so they weren’t strangers, and she seemed nice. Her dad seemed nice. Her mom eventually showed up and she, too, was a nice person.
We were all very pleasant, even with the physical impossibility of moving two young women into a room the size of your average prison cell. I was the sweatiest, by far.
The job was done, at any rate, and I hauled my soggy self back to the Pacific Northwest, occasionally sending money Texas-ward, and mostly communicating with my daughter through instant messaging, which Molly occasionally participated in.
They were good roommates and friends.
Here’s what happened, and what happens, sometimes, if you’re fortunate.
Beth met a young man (Cameron), fell in love, and after graduation they moved to the East Coast.
Molly met a young woman (Lauren), fell in love, and they also ended up on the East Coast, because it always helps to have new friends in new places.
My daughter eventually married Cameron. A couple of years later, Molly married Lauren, even if Texas still resists grasping that concept.
And, eventually, Beth and her husband moved back to Texas, to Austin, and eventually Molly and her wife ended up there, too. Lots of reasons for both moves, but friends never hurt.
And now we can talk about the picture.
It was taken by my daughter in Austin. It features Molly, sitting next to Lauren on the grass at an outdoor concert, where they’re listening to Cameron sing. And Molly is laughing, as she’s holding in her lap a sort of squirmy 6-month-old boy, who belongs to me.
In a sense. He’s my grandson, in any case, and I’m maybe a little proprietary. I’m also a little proprietary about Molly, since it’s been 10 years and I met her and her parents back when she was 19, and so on. She’s sort of a common-law daughter, then.
So it felt right and natural to see her holding my grandson in her arms, and still those 10 years were on my mind.
Could I have imagined this scenario on a muggy day in north Texas in 2004? A grandchild? A same-sex married couple? A picture that is taken and then magically appears on my phone in less than five seconds, 1,700 miles away?
And a friendship that survived, and endured, and blossomed during young adulthood? I could have imagined that.
I lived it myself, I saw it with my own parents, and still, it never stops me from smiling when I see it.
We join the lives of strangers until we blend into more family, and somebody takes a picture, and you realize that a lot can happen in 10 years, and a lot of it is good.