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The Best Men

Before I moved to Providence a friend quizzed me on my plan to move 1,000 miles away.

"Well I guess it will be me, a U-haul, and a car trailer."

"Do you want company?" He asked.

I was surprised and relieved.

Not letting me answer he added, "I talked to Alex. He wants to go too. We're going to call Dave and see if he wants in."

"If he wants in? Wants in on what?" I asked Josh, "You don't have to do this...Do you really want to help me?"

"Of course. It'll be a road trip."

It was one last opportunity to spend good time with dear friends. They helped me pack my belongings. They drove me cross country, literally -- I did not drive one mile. When we got to Providence in the middle of the night, they willingly slept on my dingy apartment floor. They helped me unpack and carried my furniture up four flights of stairs. They tolerated my short temper. Two nights before leaving, they insisted that we all have "one last drink" together. To this day, I emphasize that they should have disclosed what they really meant was "several last drinks."

On top of all that, they paid for their own meals, hotel rooms, and flights back to Indianapolis. And I'd be negligent if I didn't acknowledge Dave's cell phone (the only one we had) and the bill I'm afraid to ask about.

The day they left was tense. I think they could sense I was feeling uneasy about my transition to another life. Outside a hotel set on the shore of the Atlantic Ocean, they each shook my hand, hugged me, and wished me well.

They had done their part to make the transition as seamless as it could be. And even with all of their support, I find myself, to this day, struggling with one aspect of that trip.

These three guys put their own life aside for five days to support me changing my own.

The thought of what they did...well, it's kind of like those commercials you see for MasterCard.

"One moving van rental: four hundred dollars.

"Gas, food, and snacks: two hundred dollars.

"Three friends, five days, and an open road: priceless."

And it is priceless. So what is it that I struggle with? It's this: How do you thank a friend who sets down his own life, picks up a piece of yours, and says, "Where do you want me to put this?"

"Thank you." Is that good enough? I think that's all they expected. I don't have any brothers, but I'm pretty sure that if I did, this is what it would feel like.

A few years later I've asked them to stand by me again. Without hesitation, they all concurred to being groomsmen on my wedding day. A recognizable sense of relief filled me when they agreed to be here. The same relief that I felt before my life brought me to Providence accompanied by three steadfast friends. I've come to realize that the relief is not in what my friends have done and are going to do for me. The relief comes from the fact that I have friends of this character. It's a blessing that I think many people take for granted.

In my struggle to find yet another appropriate "thank you," I find my friends are lining up to be here for me again. In clean-cut rank and file, I have formed this mental picture in my head for my wedding day. As far as my friends go, the image is a familiar setting and a comforting theme -- Alex, Josh, and Dave on the shore of the Atlantic Ocean, each of them shaking my hand, giving me a hug, and wishing me well.


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