Almost ten years ago college graduation was approaching. The weekend before that event I was having a conversation with my friend, Alex Graves’ mother, and I lamented that with college ending and Alex moving back to Sacramento it could very well be the beginning of the end of this and so many other friendships from college. She assured me, very confidently, that the friends we make in college are often the ones that last- and she had that feeling about Alex and I.
It’s another in a long string of cases where wisdom has proven true. Alex Graves is celebrating his birthday today and I marvel time and again at the friendship we shared through four years of college, but that has persevered in the decade since our graduation.
This blog and my writing still going? I owe that fire in part to him. He called me out on giving up on my writing years ago when I was living in Hermosa beach. Maybe my other friends noticed I wasn’t writing anymore at the time, but he was the one who knew how I felt knowing I was ignoring my passion. He tolerated a drunken rant on why I’d given up. That rant is unique not just in the profound effect Alex’s words had on me, but also in that my side of the rant at a lifeguard station after bars had closed was punctuated by my hurling up the drinks I’d overindulged in that night. Despite both the literal and figurative bile and retch, he listened patiently, offered encouragement, care, and profound respect that got me back to the desk.
Who am I kidding, he’s tolerated a couple hundred drunken rants from yours truly, and he’s always shown the quality of character he has through all of them: patience, calm intelligence, and integrity. I’m not exaggerating to say that he’s been one of my role models. Thanks to him I went from surly anti-socialite, to a man who can actually make people feel at ease, listened to, and respected.
Alex has put up consistent effort and time to visit and stay in touch, and has returned the effort by being a fantastic host every time I’ve visited his city. It’s no lie to say that I see him more often than some friends that live in the same city as I do. He’s been a steady friend, an exemplar of the kind of person I strive to be, and has always been one of my favorite people to share a drink with.
I’m glad your mother was right a decade ago, friend. Thanks for being the kind of man I can call role model, and the kind of person I feel truly blessed to call a friend. Happy birthday, sir. Go Clippers, and Go Kings.