|Look at you jumping in Kansas City. You crazy. Cray. Zee.|
There can be a million "reasons" for why people do this but I'm going to argue that, at the end of the day, it is about the fact that a person is there - for the first time in X long - in the flesh. Can be touched, seen, heard, smelled, and (in some odd contexts) tasted (I'm just covering all five senses, calm down). Whatever photos, phone calls, web chats, texts, e-mails, or word of mouth of how someone is/has been can now immediately be compared/contrasted to the expectation like so many mother cats inspecting their kittens (by LICKING THEM - I might point out (smile)).
I had one of those moments (minus the licking, pretzels, and tears (eye moisture)) last night.
My once-enemy, freshman roommate, fellow antagonizer, and - by now - lifelong friend Thomas J .Kelly (he'd want me to tell you to "like" him on Facebook,"follow" him on Twitter, etc. - for what that is worth) was in Kansas City and I drove up and had a walk, some dinner, and some Starbucks with him last night. It was one of those things I "had" to do - you see Tom Kelly is one of a handful of people that knew me "when" and still knows me "now". To say Tom has seen me at my highs and lows is an understatement and you see, dear reader, Tom Kelly has feared me to be at a severe low for a long time.
How worried was he and one of our other college besties (term used with complete irony and an eye roll) about my state? I had to update the header of this here blog at 2 A.M. this morning because I made a joke about crack (the drug) in the old header (drafted in 2009, I might add) that had them worried I may have a drug problem* (super awkward moment as a physical inspection of my arms showed the faintest hint of where I gave blood just five days ago). For the 9,000,000th time, people - My ONLY vices are fried corn snacks, reading, and Etsy browsing. I was worried there would be a litany of concerns and woes but there were only a few and they were easy. A welcome disparity between my fears and my reality.
It is not that Tom is a worrier (he is) it is that he knows me well enough to know that I can tell you all day, every day that I'm "fine" but if he can't four-of-the-five-senses it - it is just words. I'm HAPPY to report that I passed the running-through-the-airport sniff test with near flying colors (Tom's summary (and I'm quoting here) was "You are clearly fatter now but you seem much happier and much more alive than the last time I saw you."). And, for what it is worth, he seemed happier and more alive, too (he has had a lot of ups and downs himself since I last saw him but he's still living the only dream I ever knew him to have as a comedian and entertainer on the island of Manhattan).
We talked, laughed, caught up, talked about friends current and former, shared family happenings, and even strategized the cost/benefit analysis of eventually moving to Middle America. We vowed to talk more often. I promised to make more social trips east as soon as the smoke settles on my marriage, house sale, job hunt, and general fret. He opened the door to an eventual trip to Wichita.
He promised to take good word back to others concerned about me. I promised to be a better communicator about how I really was versus just telling folks what they wanted to hear. He did the same. And as he walked away I put the car in drive - relieved to have passed the exam while being completely honest and open the entire time. Now I just need to get skinnier again - if only to make it comfortable while doing the run/hug thing.