Last night I had one of the greatest times of my life. What did I do, you ask? I didn’t do anything awesome like sky-dive or make love to my girlfriend. No, this greatness came from simply sitting around a camp fire with my friends.
Last month the two fathers of my two of my best friends invited me to go on a camping trip with them and the other guys in the group. Now we had all been camping once before to celebrate our graduation from high school, but this time it would be the final send off before we begin our lives in college. Attending the trip would be all males too, because like what Mr. Tillett said, it’s really important to have a close fraternal relationship with other men and I wholeheartedly believe it; there are just sometimes when you need a brother over a woman.
So the day went by well at the site. It was hot and humid, but to beat the Florida summer we chilled in the lake for a couple hours with a football and then volleyball. If there’s one thing I love doing, it’s sports with the guys. Anyways, the one thing on all our minds was nightfall and breaking open one of the dads’ humidors full of cigars. Eventually the sun went down and we each got our stogie and lit up. Previously on Armando and David’s birthday, his dad Mr. Tillett, had taught us the finer points of cigar smoking so of course we were knew what we were doing. I couldn’t get the damned thing lit! Huffing and puffing on it.
Around the ring we settled ourselves with our smoke mingling with the fire’s. Thus began the greatest night of brotherhood and comraderie. The most imprtant factor in this was David’s dad, Dennis (or Mr. Tillett). He truly cares about each and every one of us and what we’re to become later in life. As such we went around the circle and discussed our goals for the next year. Yeah, we all want to mantain good grades and go to the gym but some confessions were rather poignant. Armando, for instance, is a budding stage and film director. He opened up about his fears and ambitions. So it was with all of us. The dad’s even shared their goals, all starting knew jobs. I’ll tell you, I got pretty emotional. Goosebumps and crying, I’m serious. My dad, like them, was recently layed off and I cannot even begin to fathom the feeling of breaking that news to my wife and kids. I respect and admire our dads more than anyone else for their honesty and integrity.
Honesty and integrity are two things I value the most in this world and like what Mr. Tillett expressed, “You can tell a person by the guys they hang out with.” And it’s true. It wasn’t just a coincidence that I became friends with these guys. We are all bound by the same core values and beliefs; in fact it was years afterwards that I discovered what a strong presence God has in their lives too. Family, Friends, Church, and Country are amazing things and I’m grown stronger in each because of who I hang out with.
The Dead Poet’s Society. General Mischief. The Sons of Dissention or simply The Guys. Whatever we call ourselves it all means Best Friends. One of the things we talked about was how extraordinary it is for 12+ guys to be so close. Most kids in high school never experience this type of brotherhood until college fraternities, if even that. We really are fortunate to have so many people to help us in our times of trouble. Mr. Tillett also touched on that: There will be times in college and life when we simply have to call someone for help. Be it our parents, our friends, or our friends’ parents-we’ll have to eventually.
Taking all of this I really did cry. I am so unbelievably blessed to have the friends I do and I credit most of my success to them. They have molded and shaped me into the man I am today. Some them I’ve known for a few years and some of known practically my whole life, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is that I know them today and I will know them tomorrow. We may be going to different schools all over the state with some actually going abroad with the Marine Corps. Yes, we won’t see each other every other night to play board games till dawn. Yes, we won’t see each other every other month to play baseball or every weekend at the comic book store. Yes, now as we move on with our lives we may see each other only every other year, but I KNOW that we will still see each other. And as long as we’re a phone call or a Facebook message away we will all remain brothers until the day we die.
Honestly guys, I’m excited to come apart and come together again to share our new stories and experiences. I can’t wait for us to meet our fiancés and get together at Bachelor Parties, weddings, or for a few drinks when one of us is in town. I sincerely love you guys and I’m sincerely going to miss you guys. Of course I’ll make new friends at UCF and of course you guys will at UF, FGCU, FAU and the USMC but I will never take our friendships for granted. It’s too special for that, and last night solidified that in me.
So from the bottom of my heart I want to thank each and every one of you for being my best friend:
Jonathan Rizzo- Paul Cartwright- Lucas Rolison- Armando Rivera- Josh Rios- Zack Linder- David Tillett- Thor Jonsson- Christian Stanley- Roger Thacher- Luis Penedo- Joe Williams