Traveling a long road with a friend always makes the trip seem shorter.
I caught up with an old friend tonight. He was just recently set free from prison.
It’s weird to think that 2006 was the last time we saw each other in person, and it was completely by accident. Before that, we hadn’t seen each other since 2001 (in Missouri) and sucked at keeping in touch on a regular basis.
I was walking out from the backstage area of a show in Los Angeles— his former band’s show, to be exact. He was stumbling outside, wasted. At first, I didn’t even notice him until I suddenly hear someone speaking very loudly at me, “Hey… HEY! I remember you!” I glanced… then took a double-take.
As much of a mess that he was, I could tell he was actually genuinely happy to see me. We tackled each other in hugs before I left. We kept in better touch this time.
He admitted that he was a mess and he admitted that he had problems he was working on… and sure enough, when he got slapped with a DUI and breaking a guy’s arm in a drunken driving accident, he went to rehab. He would call me all the time and we would just chat for hours. I didn’t mind spending so much time on him. Anything to help a friend stay sober when needed.
I’m not sure why, but he also always seemed to call me when he broke sobriety or was even thinking of doing it. Maybe it’s because, as a friend, I didn’t put up with any bullshit… and boy, did I call him out (and cuss him out) if he did break sobriety. Who knows. I do know that he would genuinely apologize and he was making an honest effort to become a better person than he used to be.
I remember talking the night that the judge gave him his final sentence… and then he was shipped off in 2007… but we wrote each other on a regular basis the entire time he was locked up. I gave him updates on my life and the outside world in general, and he gave me updates on his progress in the pen. He had a clear mind and was actually thinking about everything. He was moved to minimum security. He started training in a fire camp. Considering the circumstances, he was actually doing well.
He got out a little earlier than his original sentence about a month ago. Good behavior. He’s still sober and intends to stay that way. He’s very well aware of what he’s done in the past and has no shame in owning up to the fact that he used to be “a fuck-up.”
But the past is the past. The point is he came out a better person and continues to grow in the better direction. People can judge all they want, but the thing is… most of them didn’t even know him. They judge on what was a speculation of why he got kicked out of this now hugely popular band. That’s all they ever had on him.
I wasn’t there at the incident in question, and I’ve heard various sides of that story. But I was there during that time period. I was there before, I was there after, and I’m still here. While most people were too busy trying to ride the actor’s jock, I actually took the time to care to get to know them all (including him, “the nobody”) as people. Talented human beings.
He may not be an actor, or the actor’s brother, or whatever, but you know what? He was always good to me— wasted or sober. Just as I’ve helped him through life problems, he’s helped me through some of mine. He never tried telling me to stay away from his ex-band (which, sadly, I can’t say the same about the other party regarding him). He’s always been very honest with me. He admits that he’s had faults and still has faults that he continues to work on… which is a LOT more than I can say about most of the population.