Bawitdaba

At 4:03 today, Little Red texted me a photograph. It was a picture that made me want to hop in my car and drive as fast as I could to get home. It was the type of image that would bring any man to his knees, distract him from whatever he was doing, and make his mouth water. You know what I am saying? Yes, my amazingly hot Italian wife sent a picture of her homemade lasagna in the oven.

I immediately shut the light off in my office and headed for the door. Just as I was about to exit, one of my Project Managers, Patrick, called my name. I walked into his office and he told me he needed to have a not so pleasant meeting with one of our technicians. He asked if I could stay, as we customarily have two members of management present when we need to "council" someone.  I asked when the tech would be back, and he said 5pm. I groaned a little, showed my colleague (a former executive chef himself) the pic my dinner, and told him he owes me one. I would put my lasagna on hold.

The meeting went smoothly and by 5:10 I was in the mammoth mobile and headed home. I was scanning through the channels on the radio when a song came on I hadn't heard in years. And, as music has a tendency to do, it took me back to another place and time that had almost drifted away. I must have looked silly to those sitting in Broad Street rush hour traffic in my logo'd flex, blasting the song through the car speakers and singing along. But I didn't care. Bawitdaba reminded me of an old friend and a road trip to Cincinnati.

Most of the regulars recognize my close friends from previous posts. My brother Ralph and Dave and Sara Burnham are the ones still in my everyday life. Others, like Crazy Brad and Miss B have faded or even disappeared completely, only to be facebook acquaintances at best. And I am ok with that. Every person I have ever written about here has served a purpose, whether to get me over a rough patch or to be a mistake to learn from. Everyone is a step on the path to here, so they must have been a blessing, right? But listening to Kid Rock brought this old friend to mind, and I thought it would be appropriate to write about him tonight. After all, this blog is for me, and for my boys to read long after I am gone. Far be it from me to exclude such an important chapter in the book.

I first met Daryl "DJ" Hern just after John-Michael was born. He and his wife lived in the apartment behind the one I shared with my ex-wife. The girls started talking and introduced us and, before long, we were all inseparable. We had dinner together nearly every night and DJ and I would spend hours playing Quake, or chess, or some other computer game. He was a tech guy, and even built my first computer for me in 1999. Even when we all moved from the ghetto building we lived in, we kept in close contact.

Born on the same day as me, DJ and I looked enough alike to be twins. We were always together, brainstorming ideas and interests. We quickly started coming up with business ideas.  One after the other, they flowed together into what seemed like a very tangible dream, culminating in a real business plan and course of action. He was very driven to succeed, which fueled my own motivation. Eventually we decided to move our families to Wyoming to start the business, because it was an up and coming entrepreneurial state with no state income tax. I will never forget the day DJ and Jen loaded their son Christopher (JM's best friend) into their Jeep. Behind them, a horse trailer in tow that contained everything they were to take.  As they pulled away, I could not wait until 6 months later when we were to follow.

But of course, that never happened.

They settled in. Angel didn't want to move. So we stayed here. Over time, pride and a series of bad and immature actions decisions pulled the once close families apart. I will keep those private, only to say that the blame rested squarely on me.

We kept in casual contact, and I knew when my ever determined friend was offered a great opportunity in the Pacific Northwest. He and his family moved to the Seattle area, bought a house, and put down roots. It wasn't until several years later I would catch back up with my friend.

During a work trip to Eugene, Oregon in December of 2009, I looked my old friend up. Seattle was just 5 hours up I-5, and I had a couple days to kill as the weekend approached. He graciously invited me up, and I spent the weekend with him and his now family of 5. We talked and laughed, and he made me watch Idiocracy because he knew I would get it. I did. It was just like old times.

I remember looking at his home and his family and thinking to myself "at least one of us made it". I admired the roots he had put down, especially since I was mired in a nasty divorce. It was a weekend and a moment that renewed my respect for Daryl Hern, the only person I have ever met who was a mirror image of me.

The song cranked in the speakers, like it had many years before,  when he and I went on a roadie to see my Grandpa near where I grew up. As we drove around Goshen and Milford that day, Bawitdaba blared in the speakers. Over and over again. A radio station error had turned two very intelligent grown men into head bangers that day. And that song turned me into one again today.

I live by a creed of no regrets. If I could go back in time and change anything, I wouldn't, because it all led here. Still, as I wrote this, I found myself thinking how nice it would be to have The Hern's living next to me now. And how I wish my old friend could where my path led me. I bet he would be as surprised as I was 5 years ago to see where it had led him.

Day # 592. Unless you knew me then, you probably don't get this post now. Sorry about that, I will make sure the next one is much more riveting. But this is one of those posts I needed to pen, if only to look back years from now and remember a friendship that didn't last a lifetime, but left a lasting impression on me. It is good to be me.

Below - DJ and his family from my trip in 2009









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