Saturday, March 24, 2012

An Intimate Group

I just returned from a trip. It was a trip that can be categorized in a number of fashions – it was a pleasure trip consisting of a lot of golf with some old friends of mine. That is probably the most general way to describe it but certainly not the only way. These are guys I have known, some for over 15 years. Others I had never met before. Some I am very close with. Others, honestly, I probably would not spend a lot of time with.

We are a group that, if not for a shared disease, would not normally mix.

The disease is one that, if not arrested on a daily basis, will kill us. And the way we arrest it is to take action. And one of those actions is what we did for the past five days in Charleston, South Carolina –insisting that we absolutely enjoy life. That may sound odd since I am being purposely vague about our shared malady, so just trust me on this. This is something we had to do.

And we, or speaking for myself, had an awesome time. I played six round of golf in five days. I have the blisters, sunburn and the inability to raise my left arm as proof. I also have the glow of a shared experience. We don’t drink alcohol, which seems to raise eyebrows in others. But one of the ways we don’t drink is to mix with each other. We stay close.

Unfortunately for me, I moved away from Akron 11 years ago (where these guys are from), so the opportunities to stay close to them are limited to these trips. So for me, this was an essential journey.

So we laughed, we ribbed each other, we bet a little, we golfed, we had dinners together, and we shared. Twice we held meetings back at the hotel. In these meetings we each talked about, well, whatever was on our minds. During one of these meetings, John H. Jr. had an illuminating comment. We usually preface our comments with our name & acknowledgement of our malady. Instead John said ‘Do we really need to state our names? We are a pretty intimate group’.

An intimate group.

Indeed we are.

These trips are bittersweet for me. I dearly enjoyed our time together, but I also know that time together is limited, that in a few days I would head south to Orlando while they all headed north to Akron. Sometimes that reality got to me. It did during one of these meetings, as I spontaneously started welling up and crying. It also happened as I said my goodbyes to them when I left to go back to Orlando. I shook each one’s hand, gave each a hug. And then the last one was John. Not the John that said the ‘intimate group’ comment, but John H – my Scarecrow. My closest, dearest friend in recovery. I hugged him…and I couldn’t let go. I told him I loved him. He said he loved me. And I kept hugging him.

Obviously, I had to let go, because John had more golf to play and it is kind of difficult to play golf with someone attached to your chest. I got into my car and started the 400-mile drive back home. Before I even got on the highway I was crying.

I don’t know how much they miss me, and that really doesn’t matter. That’s for them to answer. But I can tell you I miss these guys. A lot. I have similar friends here in Orlando, but it is just not the same. These were the guys that saved my ass time and time again. We are an intimate group, because, despite our apparent differences, we are cut of the same cloth. Nobody knows us like we know each other. It’s not on a physical plane. Not even an emotional one. It is much deeper than that. I cannot explain it, and do not really want to try to. It doesn’t need analysis. It just is.

And I can tell you this –

My calendar is already circled for a trip to Charleston in March 2013.


Doug Long said...

I know exactly how you feel Jerry. Even though I could only be there for one day of golf, it wasn't the reason I was there. It was to see old friends and meet new friends. PRICELESS! and of course I am invited back for next year~God willing for the whole five days too!

Dick C said...

Yep -Correct on all accounts. It was difficult to end the week even though I was very tired and could hardly swing a club. We ARE an intimate group and I hope we stay that way. All of us. Next March. the "Charleston Retreat" will continue.