No matter how I look at it, it started about 11 years ago. I met a young man who I will call Monty. He was a friend of several friends who attended the local community college while I was at university. If my memory serves, it was the high school graduation of a mutual friend when we met in Juneish of 1998.
My best friend wanted us to meet because she thought Monty and I would have glorious debates. Not in so many words, she described him as a conversation dominator. Not always right, but always with something to say and always having the last word. None of their little circle of friends had the mental capacity to put Monty in his place, as it were. But she was sure I did.
I don't really know what my friend was hoping I would do. I do remember that Monty drove me home that night, and we sat, parked in the driveway in his great blue van that smelled of grass he called Goliath, talking for a good hour. It was about good conversation.
Our friendship developed from there. I'm not sure exactly how it turned into what it did. We started going to scary movies, and would take the dark, unlit, less-traveled back roads on the way home. "Because we're stupid," we started to say of our crazy ritual. Some of the movies we saw were really frightening, and we would grasp each other's hands to help us through. I remember, some time into our friendship, when he asked me to be his girlfriend. "Just, to hold hands when the movie is over," he said. I refused him. I never once, in 11 years, thought of him more than a very close friend.
He turned his attention to someone else, and they had a son, my first godson. They married, subsequently divorced, and he went through a painful period of getting custody of his son. He won. Then, our outings sometimes included trips to the zoo, or to the Potomac Celtic Festival. I fondly remember my friend picking his young son up and placing him on his shoulders in the parking lot. The child gleefully pointed towards the festival and said, "alright, daddy, MARCH!" It was priceless.
Through the years, he had a fiancé who understood our friendship and, later, a new wife who didn't. She said she did, but her behavior towards me is another subject altogether. They would have two children, giving Monty another son and a daughter. He was always great with his kids.
A year ago Sunday, he helped me move out of my parents' house to a condo in Virginia. He was the only friend who was available to do so. His help was invaluable. If nothing else, I will always remember Monty as my reliable, dependable friend. I could trust him to give me honest answers, as he expected the same from me and knew he would get them. When I needed a mental break, he was there, and I learned to be there for him. Despite his many annoyances, he has always shown he is a true friend to me. That is the part of him that I saw, the part I could count on.