242 – Friendship

make one of these boys black, and all of a sudden this photo is pretty accurate

make one of these boys black, and all of a sudden this photo is pretty accurate

No, this is not a review of the turn-of-the-new-century sitcom (but if I were to write a review of Friends, it would be a pretty positive one) – this is the ominous review that I’ve been parenthetically alluding to over the last few days. Long story short – two of my best friends, Chelsea and Ryan Foy, had unprotected sex and are now packing up their baby and moving to Modesto, where Uncles Drew and Steve can’t corrupt the young man too much. It’s the right decision for many reasons, but it does decrease the number of locals that I feel comfortable around by a significant percentage. But maybe – just maybe – that is a good thing.

I’ll get to what that means later, but first – some history. I met Ryan and Chelsea in August 2012 in rehearsals for a production of Urinetown. I was a year out of college and still floundering in desperate search of something to do. They were a couple of honest-to-god working actors, freshly transplanted from New York City. They were also married, which just seemed strange and off-putting. But they were nice enough, so I didn’t instantly discount them as human beings, as I so often do.

I know that makes me sound like human garbage. And maybe I am. I’m a judgmental person, and I’m not especially pleasant, but beneath the gruff curmudgeon is a young man who does seek human companionship. That young man is just very selective when it comes to those companions.

Luckily (for my sake), Ryan and Chelsea recognized the worthwhile person hidden in the personality of ten-years-from-now Clint Eastwood, and – after a headshot session expertly conducted by Chelsea – I recognized them as like-minded individuals. I immediately informed Drew – the future cellist in our string quartet – that Ryan and Chelsea were worth our time.

Again I sound like a pompous dick, and I apologize for that, but that’s who I was at time (and probably who I still am today). Urinetown was a great experience because I made a lot of great friends, but Ryan, Chelsea, Drew, and I got really tight. We made a point of gang-hanging as close to weekly as possible, going so far as to start a podcast to make sure we didn’t lose touch after the end of the show. Eventually How to Be a Grown-Up went defunct as well (we recorded a comedically contentious final episode that I never even posted – it was too real), but we never stopped enjoying each other’s company.

At one point in the last two years, the four of us were described as “attached to the hip” (the malapropism is a direct quote), and that’s not entirely untrue. We’ve spent hundreds of dollars together seeing dozens of movies (including – in various configurations – Side Effects, Evil Dead, 42, Oblivion, Iron Man 3, Pacific Rim, The Heat, The Wolverine, Gravity, Thor: The Dark World, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, RoboCop, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Godzilla, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Edge of Tomorrow, The Purge: Anarchy, and Guardians of the Galaxy – to name a few), and hundreds of hours together shooting the shit – which is infinitely more valuable. Ryan and Chelsea have been supportive and encouraging and (sometimes conflicting) voices of reason in my life for a little over two years at this point, and when they drive off tomorrow, the car exhaust will not be able to fill the void that they leave.

Now let’s keep this in perspective: they’re moving to Modesto, not Mars. I will see them again (hopefully), but it will not be the same. And – as I mentioned above – perhaps that is for the best. The four of us kind of latched on to each other for dear life in those early days, and letting go could be positive. I do have other friends, despite the impression you may get from what you just read. At least eight of those I would consider truly great friends – one of whom indulged me at 9:30 this morning to wrap a present for Ryan and Chelsea (looks like I found a new enabler) – and that number needn’t be so low. I think Ry and Chel would want me to move on (I’m going to talk about them as if they’ve passed away now). All applicants for “new best friends” can leave your resumes in the comments.

So what is my final judgment of “friendship?” Well, saying goodbye to two good people is incredibly difficult, but it is made easier by the fact that I got so much out of the deal. I’m a better, more well-rounded person than I was two years ago. I wish I could have contributed as much as I took out of this hip-attached friendship, but that’s just one of the many things I’ve learned from Ryan and Chelsea. I wish you guys a lot of luck with the next phase of your life together. I know from experience that you’re going to be good parents. Start looking for the best movie theater in Modesto, because Drew and I will be up there in May to see Avengers 2.

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