This past week I took the family to Nashville, a trip we try to make at least once a year to visit and stay with close friends from college. The adults usually have at least one late night where we stay up reminiscing about the old days or sharing war stories of marriage and parenthood. Every time we leave, despite the long days and short nights, I depart reenergized. There’s just something about finding your people when you’re young, and having the privilege of growing up with them into adults, spouses, and parents. There’s an intimacy that allows you to be known, but also appropriately challenged. We’re fortunate enough to have a few friends in this category of inner circle, and for that I am grateful.
One night over dinner sitting around the table and looking at our growing tribe I remarked to our friends parents who happened to be in town visiting, where did all these children come from? In that moment I was thinking about the four of us sitting around a freshman dorm room (Longstreet of course where we all lived!) at Emory BC (before children). I don’t think that any of us could have imagined ourselves almost 2 decades later at this stage. Would Sam ever calm down long enough to get serious about anything besides chasing girls? Would Samantha who seemed so busy with living her own life even give him the time of day? Wait, are Paul and Erin dating? How did they keep that a secret! These were the things we cared about as impressionable 18 year olds back in the day.
Then we fell in love. While I can’t speak for the Simms, I know exactly when it started to come together for Samatha and I: in New York City of all places. Our freshmen year coincided with 9/11. For our spring break that year only months after the devastating attack, our gospel choir choose to spend that week in New York volunteering and ministering to people. All four of us were in the choir that year (it’s a black people at a PWI thing I guess). It was also my first trip to New York where everything seemed so magical. During that trip, the four of us were inseparable. Memories were made and lives were changed, and I mean that literally and figuratively. Samantha and I had only recently started dating, and by the end of it, if people didn’t know, Paul and Erin had likely been outed as well.
The rest of college seemed to fly by in similar fashion. Samantha and I very public about our relationship, launching a campus ministry organization together, Paul and Erin very private about theirs. We each dated throughout college and by the time senior year rolled around, it was clear where this was heading. We took a trip together to the Bay Area senior year (again with the gospel choir) and by then Samantha and I were engaged. Our wives were always closer, at least initially, and so it was no surprise when they served as bridesmaids in each other’s weddings. The coolest part: each of their parents were also at our wedding. Over the years our families have gotten to know each other, through weddings, baby dedications, hospital deliveries, Christmas cards, you name it.
It helped that we lived in the same city as our close friends up until about 3 years ago, so we all were able to stay connected. With two other couples who we’ve also linked up with and grown together over the past decade (shout out to the Weavers and Gibbs!), we’ve gone on numerous cabin trips, and even attempted a family vacation together imagine 4 families with their kids in one cabin!). The last time we did that was in 2013, our crew only had 6 kids total at the time, now there are 10 and the adults are outnumbered. It feels like we’re due for another one right?
This is how we stay connected though, through shared experiences. Even with 3.5 hours of distance between us, we’re still connected. Paul and I have probably become closer than we were in college as we support each other through career transitions, being strong husbands, and fatherhood. We try to visit each other so the kids are there for milestones. And of course there’s the epic text chain which holds everything together.
So two nights ago when we sat around their table in Nashville, eating deliciously grilled BBQ Paul’s visiting parents prepared, there were a lot of memories in the room. Each of our parents for example have watched us all grow up. Now they get a chance to watch us raise kids. I want my kids to have that. I hope that they find their people when they’re young, and know the joy of journeying with great people.