That’s what friends are for
I think our friendship began with a simple ride home from a basketball game. I was 14, a freshman, and a cheerleader. I didn’t feel like waiting for my boyfriend to shower and such after the game, so Ian offered me a ride home. I knew him, somewhat, from his older brother. I also knew he was in my sister’s grade. Quieter, but everyone loved him.
He came to every game of every sporting event with his friend Kevin. At the end of the basketball games, we’d form a ‘tunnel’ for Kevin so he could slide down the middle. He was a little bit heavier and a jokester. We’d love it when he’d do the slide.
Ian drove his parent’s Geo Tracker. Remember those? He still drives it today. He was giving three other people a ride home and somehow we managed to stuff us all into the tiny car.
He dropped everyone else off first, going from furthest away to closest to his house, with me being the last. We started talking and haven’t stopped since.
Today, eleven years later, I went to his Uncle Bill’s funeral. He texted me, saying, “You don’t have to come, I hate funerals. I don’t want to subject you to the same thing.”
I simply wrote back, “Shut up. It’s what best friends are for.”
And he is. He’s my best friend. He’s been since the day he drove me home.
Being from Clarion, there isn’t much to do for fun. Seriously. So what did we do on weekends? We drove around. Aimlessly. Just got in the car and drove. I had a cell phone, my Mom knew we wouldn’t leave the county or country, and she loved Ian. (Still does.)
One of my favorite trips was when we drove out on a mission to find Porter Farm. There’s a scary story that says the Porter’s kids burned up in a tree house fire and if you go to where it was, you can hear the mother screaming for her husband to save them.
So picture with me if you will, it’s 8 or 9 at night, pitch dark, driving on windy back roads, overcast, and we’re talking about scary stories. Plus Ian is taunting me, saying “Look at that barn! It’s close to the road! Look at it! I think I need to get out and pee.” FYI, barns and silos scare the poop out of me. For reals. And so when they’re close to the road, well that’s just mean.
Then I say to him, “What would you do if you saw someone just sitting on the side of the road, right here?” We were passing by an open field.
Ian swore we were close, so he started to slow down, when all of a sudden, out of the corner of my eye I see this bus? But, like, a Satanic Bus. All the windows were busted out, it was covered in spray paint and it was sitting on the side of this back road twenty miles from nowhere. Out of nowhere! We both jumped in our seats and I may have peed myself a bit.
Either way, scary stuff.
Then we got lost on Stony Road. Every time we thought we were free of the back roads, we turned on to a “new” road and there we were…back on Stony Road.
He went to Pitt and after his first year there, he rented a house with some old high school buddies. I finally got the time to come up and visit him and stay for a weekend. Never in my life have I ever had more fun. I fell in love with Oakland, with Pittsburgh and with that freedom that he had. I was a senior and couldn’t wait to get the heck out of Clarion.
After I graduated, I decided to move to Oakland and go to Massage Therapy School (yah, really) and I lived only a few blocks from Ian.
He was always there for me, like a big brother. At every party, every half price night at Fuel and Fuddle, every time I got locked out of my apartment.
My favorite thing to do was to wake him up. Let’s just say this: Ian is NOT a morning person. So here I’d come, into his apartment at 8 in the morning, ready to go for a run and he’d be in his room sleeping in his boxers. I’d come running in screaming “EEEEEEEEN! EEEEEN! TIME TO GET UP!” Then I’d commence jumping on his bed. Then I’d start to rip off his covers. Typically he’d swear at me. And he’s pretty creative with his swearing, that’s for sure. But he’d always get up and grumble and be happy, because I brought breakfast.
Before I was married and spent every Christmas Eve with the inlaws, he would come over to my house for dinner. Never missed a year.
When I got married, he was a groomsman. I would have had him stand on my side, but I don’t think he could pull off the red strapless dress the girls wore.
When Claire was born, he was there in the waiting room.
He’s been to every birthday for the kids.
If I were to call him this very second and said I needed his help, he’d be there.
He just may be the son my Mom never had (besides her step-sons) and brother I never had (besides my half-ones in Minnesota somewhere.)
Sure, he’s not the best wall painter. He always falls asleep on my couch and he gets all worked up over sports, any sport, pick a sport. He loves sports. He has three Penguin Jerseys and when he comes over to the house to watch a game, he brings extras for who doesn’t have one.
He’s my best friend.
So when I found out his Uncle had died, I did what any best friend would do. I asked him when I should get to the church and if he needed anything.
Because that’s what friends are for.
This was taken when Claire was just a little fry. (I know…Duke? Really?)
Christmas Eve 2004. He got me Band of Brothers. Best freaking gift EVER.