A trip down memory lane: part 68 (or so we'll say)

Normally this blog is reserved for sports and pop culture relevant topics. On occasion, I've been known to take trips down memory lane. Today is one of those days.

The following is story of theatre and friendship, with themes touching upon mental illness, self worth, and suicide. Fair warning.

*Names have been shortened to first-name initials only.

Staring at a notepad, of the canary yellow variety, my mind was blank. It had been a good week since my last blog post and, with a goal of posting weekly, I needed something.

I thought of a variety of sports and entertainment topics to write about, ranging from the NBA playoffs to Game of Thrones, but nothing was really popping. No solid structure, nothing I had too strong of feelings about. Just a solid 45 minutes of emptiness and a sole black ink spot from where my pen remained frozen in place.

Knowing was I was soon going to embark on a "favorite summer films of 1999" blog series, my mind wandered back to that summer. I began to plot out a prologue to the upcoming series, even had a few sentences written in my mind. Then, as I am wont to do, my mind drifted towards others things that happened in the summer of 1999. Namely, acting in my first play since elementary school and making a couple of lifelong friends along the way. Only to lose one of these friends years in the future.

But that's not the beginning. That comes later.

Summer of 1999

Back in the summer of '99, I was living at home with my parents. I was 20 years old and had just completed my first year of college away from home. Working the same summer job I'd had since I was 16, my summer was going to consist of working and figuring out if I wanted to keep pursuing my field of choice: theater and dramatic writing.

Leaning towards bagging it up, even though I had no backup plan, changed with a phone call out of the blue.  K, a friend from high school who by chance was also going to the same college as me, was also back home for the summer. And he was looking to put on a play and had called to gauge my interest in acting. Though I did no acting the previous year aside from Acting I class and a no-dialogue scene as a pizza delivery boy in a short film, there was no hesitation to saying 'yes' (at least that I recall). Mostly, I think, I didn't want to sit around all summer doing nothing.

Joining us on stage was C, also in the theater department and also back home for the summer. The play was Pvt. Wars, a one-act play by James McLure and we'd be performing it at a local coffee shop.

K basically took over directing duties, with C lending his voice as well. Admittedly, they were both more experienced and they helped me more than I did them. K took me under his wing during this venture. The experiences through rehearsal and eventually in a couple of performances was great enough to convince me to continue to pursue writing and acting. (Not to mention learning the lesson, via K, that drinking real alcohol on stage had its side effects. By time the show was over, K had drank enough vodka towards the end of the play in which I had to drive him around town after the show for a good hour so he could sober up. And we ate some food from Wendy's™)

I am glad I stuck with it. 

Over the years, the friendship with K and C grew. Through drunken nights out, parties, weddings, and even a remount of Pvt. Wars at college, we grew closer over the years.

K and I even spent a few years in Los Angeles as we pursued -- along with a group of friends all from Boise -- a career as actors, writers, directors, and producers. The sprawling city of L.A. kept us apart more often than not, but when we did meet up, memories were made. (K was there, along with another friend, the first time I ever tried to surf.)

Drifting apart among a large group of friends is a natural progression of adulthood, with circles getting smaller and smaller. It was no different for K and I as moved back to Boise and he eventually ended up in Montana. Fifteen years of friendship, however, meant that no matter how long between visits, calls, or texts, falling back into a familiar routine was bound to take place. On the spectrum of time, 15 years is a blip. But to me, 15 years of friendship filled up memories to last a lifetime.

Except sometimes, when the friendship has faded ever-so-slightly, you lose touch of exactly what is going on other's lives, only to be discovered when it's too late.

K has been gone 11 years come this summer. He had his own demons, stuff I only know the peripheral of (at least from those final years of his life). His story is not mine to tell, except as a version of him that lives on in a variety of ways in my life and my writing. To me, even with the troubles in his own mind and life that he saw no way to overcome, he was a great talent and, importantly, a great friend.

I carry with me memories of our shenanigans, dating back to basketball and cross country in high school and carrying over to parties at the Moon Tower and his endless pursuit to help make the people around him better. For that, I am forever thankful.

GATELY: What is a seven-letter word for hemorrhoidal tissue?
SILVIO: Nat-wick. N-A-T-W-I-C-K

From James McLure's Pvt. Wars