About once a year or so, I'm able to get together with with 2 of my childhood friends and we have dinner together. One of the guys, Daren, is still in the town where we all grew up in southeast Arkansas and the other, Kent, is in Killeen, TX. I actually get to see Daren quite often, when he comes to "the big city", as he calls it, for shopping, doctor visits, etc. or on the occasion when I go back "home" to see family that still live there. Kent, on the other hand, makes it here maybe twice a year to see his parents, who live in a small farming town off of Interstate 30, heading toward Memphis.
For some reason, I don't exactly remember when we all met. I believe that Kent and I got together first, maybe in grade school. Daren joined up a couple of years later. I'll let him clarify on that one. There were other members of our little band but the three of us have really made it a point to stay in touch through the years. We shared getting our first cars, our first jobs (Daren and I worked together at the local Wal-Mart for a while) and several other life experiences. We're all now 43 years old and only a few days apart in that. Tonight we had dinner at Lonestar Steakhouse and then headed over to Sufficient Grounds for coffee and dessert. Our conversation went in and out of Kent's recent stint in Iraq as a consultant for a defense contractor with the Army, to Daren's wife finishing up her cancer treatments to his taking up biking and riding 43 miles a couple of days ago, to my still hating to fly after years of having to do so in my job. We all inquire about each other's parents and I even called my mom on the cell during dinner to let Kent say hello to her. I even tried to get my little sister on the phone and invite her to let us treat her to an after dinner treat. Kent hadn't seen her since he "still had hair". His quote, not mine. But she wasn't home. We cover the same old ground, asking what's new with the other folks we grew up with and Daren catches us up on any local news around town.
After dinner, we came back to my house and my girls played piano for them and then they were on their way back to drop Kent at his folks before Daren made the final drive back home. When they came to the door to pick me up earlier this evening, I was on the phone with Kerry, my brother-in-law and I had to cut our conversation short. I called him back after they pulled out of the driveway and he asked, "how was the visit?" My reply was, "I don't know how many guys still get together with their childhood best friends and are even able to tolerate each other, much less have a genuine visit and interest in each other, despite any differences they may have, and that in itself has to be worth something." He replied, "It's worth alot." I agree.