Friday, December 9, 2011

Best Photo

It doesn't have to be the best technically, it doesn't have to be the best visually, but it should be a photo that you consider the best. Does it have special meaning? Is it of a significant event or moment?

This photo isn't one that I took (obviously-- I am in the picture!). But it's one that reminds me of a great night with great old friends. The only bad thing about this picture is that we're not all in it. Pictured is Mike, Kelly, Ricky and me. Not pictured are Timmy, Steve, and, um... I think there was at least one other person there that night. I honestly can't remember. It was one of those nights, if you know what I'm saying.

Mike only comes in from Japan once a year at the most, so when he's in WNY, we all try to make the most of it. And this night we definitely did. It was a gorgeous summer evening and we all met at a pub in Lewiston. I was worried that it was going to be packed when I finally got there, and it was, but luckily my cohorts had taken control of a table on the patio, everything worked out fine. Mike and Ricky were drinking a beer that Mike called "An Old Dirty Bastard." I'm almost one hundred percent sure that's not what it was called, but it was a nice dark amber colored draught that was yummy and hoppy and they went down so easy.

We all went to high school together. We used to be inseparable. Even after Mike slept with my girlfriend or I hooked up with Ricky's numerous significant others, we still stayed pretty tight. There were many ups and downs, obviously-- I don't think there's a group of friends that don't have arguments or fights or what have you, but we made it through the other side alright. Over the years we kind of went our separate ways, but when we get together, we fall right back into our old ways. Steve is the melancholy voice of reason. Kelly is everyone's favorite. Mike is the life of the party. Ricky complains about the price of things. Timmy is everyone's kid brother. And me? well, I'm not sure what my role is, exactly. You'd have to ask the rest of them. Maybe I'm a combination of all six. Maybe I'm the party animal. Maybe I'm the story teller. Maybe I'm the one who keeps all this going.

We are all grown-ups though. Our little group has a business owner, a soon to be pastor, a teacher, a therapist, a graphic designer and an international business recruiter. But from an outsider looking in, I'm not too sure you'd know which is which. Especially on a night like this. By the end of the night the table, the floor, a couple of the seats, and the railing around the patio was all covered in empty glasses. The bartender, who had come out to chat with us a few times as he smoked his cigarettes, eventually had to give us the boot. We had over stayed our welcome. We had been served past the point of last call. We didn't need to go home, but we could no longer stay there.

I never take enough pictures of life. I leave somewhere or an event or a get-together like this one and I always wish I had taken pictures. "Why didn't I try to get a picture of all of us together?" "I should have taken a picture of Steve when he was telling that story!" "Ricky is such a jagoff. I should have grabbed a picture of him being... himself." But I don't think of it at the time. I am too engaged with my friends or what is going on or drinking to think about pulling my phone out and have everyone pose for a picture. So I'm glad that there are other people who think about the picture taking business. There were probably dozens of pictures taken that night, but this one is a great one. It was taken late enough into the night to show that we have all had a couple few drinks, but not too late to show us falling over or drooling or losing our hat.

In the end, it's all about old friends, isn't it? They are our past, but they can also be our present and future. Especially if you have the right old friends. When we get together it's like we're teenagers again. Teenagers who drink. Legally. Teenagers who have to get up in the morning. Teenagers who will never forget the great times we had and the great times to come.

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