I met John in 1996 when we were in Mr. Luedtke's World Lit class (I think) my sophomore year of high school. Fifteen years ago. Wow. That's weird to think about. I figured John and I would be immediate friends because he was smart and I was smart and, well, isn't that how it worked?
As it turns out, no. John and I became friends junior year, really, if I remember correctly. Seriously, much of this post might be just me incorrectly remembering things. Memory is not my strong suit, and actually John is constantly reminding me of all kinds of stuff that we did that I have long forgotten. Just a couple weeks ago he reminded me that we used to watch Jeopardy! together in high school. We would be on the phone, each at our own houses, and we would keep score. Such nerd behavior.
I hung out with John so much during high school there is no way to even quantify it. John was my best friend in high school. We grew up together. I don't even know how we spent all the time together that we spent together. Did we even do homework? When I turned eighteen, John bought me an enormous cigar and a Playboy magazine. And John held a legendary party the day high school ended (which turned out to be the day before high school ended). John hosted some great parties back then.
We also did plays together in high school. Neither of us was a part of the high school drama club, but we ended up cast in things. We both accidentally (in separate accidents) did Our Town one year and though both of us hated that, we played Moon and Birdboot in Stoppard's The Real Inspector Hound and had such a good time. Actually, John became the king of high school drama our senior year. We were also in another show about crazy people, the title of which I cannot remember. I played a crazy person (my friend Jon Sizemore was a crazy person, too) and John played the psychiatrist.
All of this sounds really dorky, so I'll stop now. And I'm stopping because this might be my memory of what happened, but it is not an accurate picture of John. In fact, he's one of the coolest people I know. A couple of years ago, I was asked to speak to the graduating class at Florida State's School of Theatre graduation and I gave a whole speech about how our lives change and we have to be ready to drop everything and go do different things with our lives. Half the speech was about John. He has managed to change his life whenever he needs to, traveling the world, refusing to settle down, flying by the seat of his pants and continuing the adventure. While some of us have begun comfortably dwelling in our careers or paths that other people have set for us, John consistently decides to do things his own way. I look up to him so much – for this and for many other reasons – and always have.
A year or so ago, John and I were in California at the same time – he had just gotten back from a year in China – and we went out with a bunch of friends to a pool hall in Burbank. John and our friend Tom and I fell into a familiar banter that the three of us always had. Our friend Candice looked at us and said "You guys are so similar." We laughed; we hadn't seen each other in something like three years. It's not like we'd picked up each other's habits. "We became who we are together," I said. And it was a weird but cool feeling.
I was in California in July and I spent two evenings hanging out with John. It's a pretty great experience being able to fall comfortably back into a relationship into which neither of us really puts any effort, but which is so permanent that it actually doesn't need any effort. After not seeing each other or really talking to each other for a year, I can spend six hours with John and it's like we've never been apart. To be grateful for John isn't really fair. I couldn't begin to thank him for everything he has done for me, for everything he has meant to me. I can't begin to categorize or measure his impact on my life. But I am thankful, very very thankful for the friendship we share, for the plans we make together, and for all the time we have spent and will spend together.