02 April 2012

On Friends

I just got home from a phenomenal weekend at the IndyCar race in Birmingham Alabama.  I could go on and on about the contest we won, my "hot lap" around the track, how beautiful the place was and how friendly everyone was... in fact I think I will after this post, but I have to say something else first.

How... HOW... did I get such great friends?  I do not understand it, and I like to understand things, in great detail, and am not given to just shrug and accept things very often, but maybe I have to.  I always thought I had close friends growing up, and I'm sure they were, but I'm not really in contact with them anymore.  Some of my closest friends from high school I haven't talked to in years... decades even, yes I am that old.  And others I talk to irregularly, and it's just like old times, and I love seeing them, but how close are you, really, when you don't know what's going on in their life?  I'm not judging, I'm really curious... I would love to understand.

Then I went to Purdue and I knew NOBODY.  There were some other kids from my high school that went there, but only 2-3, and they were acquaintances, at best.  My roommate, in what ought to be some sort of game show, Roommate Lottery or some such thing, Dave, was from Schaumburg, IL.  He was a neat freak, sorry, that's not strong enough... a NEAT FREAK, I was (am?) a slob.  In that respect we were Felix and Oscar... and that first day... week... I had no idea I had just met my roommate for the next 4 years, the brother I never had, and 31 years later, in what was the darkest time of my life, a shoulder to lean on and cry to, sometimes daily, while I had to be strong for everyone around me.  How do you describe somebody like that? He's my friend, in a lot of ways my best friend, but I have a lot of best friends.

That first week I also met Jeff and Steve and Dale and the 5 of us are still great friends now over 33 years later and see each other every year, multiple times every year.  Later that year I met Bob and Greg, and the next year I met George, who IS my best friend and my wife.  Some of the guys married girls we knew from Purdue, others married outside of the Clan, but all were accepted and welcomed and we now have our Purdue family.  We call it the Purdue Crew, but it really is a family.  We've been there for births, and deaths, happy times and sad, and the friendship has never wavered.

Last Friday Jeff (yes, that Jeff) and I were heading to Birmingham for the IndyCar race when our van died on the interstate.  I won't go into details here, but it could not be fixed until Saturday afternoon.  We would miss my "hot lap", all the Saturday events, and dinner with a new very good friend.  We had planned on staying with Dave and Pam that night, have supper with them, play some euchre, head out in the morning and now that was all gone, and perhaps the whole weekend.  Dave said "Clay, I'm coming to get you guys."  Not, what can I do?  Not, Oh that sucks, see you in May.  I'm coming to get you guys... an hour and 45 minutes each way, and you can take our car.  Now that is NOT as big a deal as what he did when Allie died, that was huge, but it was also extraordinary circumstances.  This was just something he did because... well, I'm not sure.  Would I have done the same thing for him?  Absolutely, yes.  Is that why he did it?  No.  Would I do it for him in case he ever might have to do it for me?  Again, no.

I might have to read some more about this, but I don't expect to find any answers to my questions.  Why am I such great friends with these people from Purdue and not others who I met there?  Why will we drop anything and be there for each other?  I can't explain it, and I sometimes wonder what I ever did to deserve friends like these.  What could anyone do to deserve friends like these?  All I know is I love my friends like family, they are my family I chose, and if you are my friend, all you ever have to do is ask.  For anything.

And actually you don't even have to ask... all you have to do is let me know.  Maybe that's part of the answer there.


  1. What a great post...you are very lucky to have such good friends; those who will drop what they are doing to help you. I have very few of those friends, but I love them like family.

    Now, tell me about your hot lap, cause I'm EXTREMELY jealous!!!


  2. Clay - couldn't have said it better. I remember a night in the Louisville airport when all my Purdue Crew gals had left on their flights and drives home to find my flight into Baltimore had been canceled. A call later you were on your way to pick me up to spend the night with you and George, et.al. Sarah gave me her room, you missed the Super Bowl or Playoff pregame party at Sharon or Karen's house to come "rescue" me from the horrors of a night in an airport or airport hotel. Like you said, we would have done it for you, but it was never lost on me how lucky I am to have this group of friends.... and I'm a "marry - in"!

    and like Elisa - I can't wait to hear about the hot lap... and the tanning bed!

  3. I remember that too Jill. Always a good time when we're together, whatever the circumstances.