Last Saturday my friends and I had a going away party for my long time friend and cohort in crime, Mr. Jeff Martin. Jeff has accepted a position in Atlanta, approximately 900 miles west of where I am currently sitting.
(Click here to see Photos from the Party)
Jeff and I met back in 1985 on the first day of 7th grade. The two of us ended up in music class together, and shortly after class began our teacher handing out copies of the lyrics to the first song we were to learn: “You Can Be A Rainbow.” After receiving our papers this tall, lanky kid with thick glasses and an Ozzy shirt walked over to me and said, “Are you going to sing this crap?” I shook my head “no” and he responded with, “Me either. Hi, my name’s Jeff.” We were 12-years old back then, 27 years ago.
If you’ve read books or listened to any of my podcasts, you’ve probably heard me mention Jeff’s name. Growing up he was my Commodore buddy, my arcade buddy, my music buddy, my Photon buddy, my Dungeons and Dragons buddy, and once … my surfing buddy.
Yes, one time Jeff and I went surfing. In Corpus Christi. Where there are no waves. I think we were about fourteen years old in this picture. During this time the two of us would routinely spend the entire weekend with one another, spending Friday night at his house and Saturday night at ours. We spent one entire summer playing Bard’s Tale, and came up with the idea of typing our names backwards and using them for our characters’ names; mine was Eibbor, his was Ffej.
And that’s the two of us at our senior prom. Jeff still had his thick glasses back then. I still had my mullet.
One thing that I will always admire about Jeff is his forgiveness. A couple of times throughout the years I let my emotions get the better of me and said things I’ve lived to regret. Jeff gave me the time and space I needed, and gave me a second chance when, by all rights, I probably didn’t deserve one. Every day, I am grateful that he did.
In 1995 while working at Best Buy, Jeff called to let me know about an available position on the FAA help desk, where he was working. He even prepped me for the interview, letting me know what kinds of questions they typically asked. A couple of weeks later, in April of 1995, I started work on the help desk, alongside Jeff. Jeff eventually moved on, but I stayed behind. Seventeen years later, I’m still sitting in the same building. I have no idea what I would be doing for a living had he not called me that day.
As the years go by it’s easy to lose track of time. In 2009 I started “Nasty Pirates Night”. A few of my friends and I back in high school used to refer to ourselves as the Nasty Pirates. We all had old cars and CB radios and hung out together on a regular basis. Here’s a picture of the Nasty Pirates, some 20 years later.
That’s me, Josh, Andy, Jeff, and Scott. I lose track of how long each Pirate has known the other, but it’s been a long, long time. I met Andy around the time we started kindergarten, and Scott in either kindergarten or first grade. Suffice it to say we’ve all known one another for a long, long time, and Nasty Pirates Night will not be the same without Captain Ffej there.
In several ways, Jeff’s move mirrors my own. Several years ago — Jesus, 16 now — I accepted a federal job in Spokane, Washington. Like Jeff, I packed my essentials into my Dodge Neon, said goodbye to my family and friends and temporarily my wife, and drove 1,800 miles to a city I had only visited once before. For me it was an exciting adventure. I loved exploring a new city; had I never moved we would have never experienced Pete’s Pizza: The Calzone King, or Ichabod’s Tavern. I guess I never thought much about what it was like for others when I left. Now, I kind of know.
Right now I’m sadder than I should be. Unlike 1996, now we have cell phones with free long distance and unlimited minutes. We have e-mail, and Skype, and Facetime, and all sorts of ways to stay in touch. And 900 miles is a lot closer than 1,800. The next three-day weekend that comes along, if Jeff’s not headed this way, you can bet that I’ll be headed that way.
Anyway, I just wanted to take a moment to wish Jeff the best in his new endeavors. This is not an ending but a new beginning. Best of luck at your new job, Ffej. We’ll see you soon!