"Some friends come into your life for a reason, they come into your life and teach you a lesson but they exit your life in such a way that the lesson is learned and they seldom cross your path again. Some friends come into your life for a season, they make your life better, but time or death leave you only with the great memories you shared. Some friends come into your life a lifetime, they make your soul dance of joy every time you see each other and even through distance you stay close. Those are the ones you should cherish and hold very close to your heart."
On my roadtrip this summer, I had a choice between visiting Yellowstone National Park or the Grand Canyon. I wanted to see both, but it became clear I would not be able to spend a significant amount of time if I tried. I could either spend a few days in each or choose one in which to spend a week or more. There was a guy I had been exchanging emails with for a while that I wanted to meet that just happened to live in one of the little towns in Wyoming that I would pass through if I chose Yellowstone. There was also a casino in that little town. Good-looking guys and casinos are two of my favorite things, so I chose Yellowstone.
I drove from Great Smoky Mountains National Park to the Wind River Valley, stopping only long enough to eat and get a few hours of sleep each night. I arrived in town after midnight and found a room. I sent him a text message the next morning saying, "Guess where I am?" He was busy the next few days but gave me some ideas of where to pitch my tent and where to eat. I was disappointed that I couldn't see him but didn't complain because he didn't invite me. I just showed up.
We stayed in touch while I visited Lander, Cody, and Yellowstone National Park. He told me I should extend my vacation and see the concerts at the county fair in Rock Springs. I asked if he knew anybody with extra tickets. He said I didn't need a ticket. It was eight dollars at the gate.
"Eighty dollars? For all three days?" I asked, thinking that was a bargain.
"No, eight dollars each day at the gate."
"Eighteen a day? No way."
"I said eight dollars. The concert is free with admission to the fair."
I'm not hard of hearing. I was just having great difficulty believing I could see Hoobestank and Shinedown for eight dollars each. I can't even park for eight dollars at home. I still didn't quite believe it. I showed up three hours before the concert because I was afraid there would be too many people and some would be turned away. I passed the time until the show watching kids trying mostly unsuccessfully to rope calves.
It was only eight dollars and was not crowded at all. Hoobestank only had ten rows of diehard fans. The rest of the audience was apathetically watching a free show. The singer worked very hard to get everyone involved, asking the people in the back to jump up and down just once. "It won't hurt. I promise." He told the ten rows up front he loved them. The people in back he liked, but "just as friends". They played their hearts out. I was impressed.
The next night was Shinedown. I knew I had heard a couple of their songs on the radio but couldn't name them. I was excited because I was finally going to meet my friend. We'll call him L. After the first couple of songs I got a text: "Left of stage." Off I went to find him. He was just as good-looking in person and a very sweet guy. He introduced me to his brother and friends then spent the rest of the concert by my side. I got a call from him before I made it out of the fairgrounds. He said, "I miss you already."
For the next few weeks I thought of him every time I heard a Shinedown song. Things did not work out and I am no longer on his friend list. I guess it is true that sometimes people come into your life only briefly but for a specific reason. L introduced me to a beautiful state that is second only to Texas in my heart and to music that inspires me. Shinedown has become my favorite band.
I was laid off in March and am still unemployed. I have decided this is my Second Chance to go back to college and get my degree. It's a chance to start over and reinvent myself.
Sometimes good-bye is a second chance...