Back a lifetime ago I was a decent high-school wrestler, finishing my HS career as a four-time letter winner, state qualifier (should have placed), and something like an 80-30 win-loss record. After graduating, I got the hell out of my small city and moved 300 miles to start college at a Big10 school and stayed in touch with just a few people from HS – no one from my wrestling team nor my graduating class.
Fast forward twenty-some years and out of the blue I get contacted by one of my former teammates. He found me on FaceBook, even though I have a fake name so people leave me the hell alone. Basically, he got some tickets to St. Louis to watch the Div. 1 NCAA wrestling championships that happened about a week ago, and talked four of us who haven’t seen each other since the mid-90’s into joining him. It was a random adventure that has been a staple over the years and one that doesn’t happen very often anymore, so I was down despite never watching college wresting a day in my life. The experience was based more on catching back up with past teammates and a couple coaches that are only about 10 years older than us.
These guys weren’t really my friends back in HS. But when you spend hundreds and hundreds of hours (I estimate over 700 with these guys) together getting your ass kicked by one another, working toward a common goal, in gyms, on buses, standing on the podiums together, that bond is very different than mere friendship. I never ran in the same social circle at school either. I was a National Honor Society nerd who didn’t drink in high school, and these guys had broken homes, beer hook-ups, partied hard, and banged high school skanks. To each their own, and we had no issues or beef about or differing viewpoints on the world. They were as funny as I was serious, but we always had each others’ backs. It was going to be an interesting weekend pulling back the curtain on what they made of their lives, and I wasn’t disappointed.
I made it down there about 5 hours behind the rest of the crew. Coming directly from work, I picked them up at the Scottrade Center as they were just wrapping up the Friday night session. St. Louis was the home of a college girlfriend I dated off and on for 2-3 years, and I’d been through town for work a decade ago, but it wasn’t a place I knew well. For my small-town friends it was an uncomfortable place. They were convinced every ally shortcut in this downtown government district, even during the light of day, was a chance to get jacked and killed. For one guy, this was as far away from his hometown as he’d ever been (and it was only probably 300 miles from the hometown). Anyway, we made it back to a bar-restaurant near our hotel for a late dinner and drinks to catch up.
As they colored in their lives, it became apparent I was completely in the dark about what was going on with them during our time together as youths. Stories of broken homes, fucked up parents, many drug and alcohol shenanigans, teenage sluts, abortion, and fucking away opportunities were opened up with no shame at this stage of their lives. They’d crossed the Rubicon and these were a past that made for some hilarious stories in many ways. It wasn’t unexpected then, with these origin stories of teenage transition, that they didn’t make the best decisions as they crossed from rebel teen to adulthood. The trip-organizer dropped out as a senior and started working construction, he now travels the U.S. in a specialized construction field owning his own company. Definitely still a loud talking, confident scrapper, he is a hard-charging, hard-working, blue collar dude who calls his live-in girlfriend and baby-momma (of a 12 year old) his “old lady.” Another guy has straightened up after some early-20’s trouble of OWIs and partying, living a simple life with no woman and a physically tough job in beverage distribution. I’d say for both these guys they’ve done well considering where they started, and certainly seemed happy enough. Rounding out the bunch are a divorced/remarried guy who weighs 100 pounds more than when I last saw him, and a guy who was recently released from a 15 day jail stint for a 3rd OWI offense who, by his account, patched things up with his wife after some near-divorce conflict a few years back.
Between the crying-from-laughing talk about poop, wrestling, life reflections, and sex, we drank, ate, and saw our common bonds in life. Whether blue or white collar, black or white, relationships and sex and raising a family is a challenging proposition. Even those guys who swam in high-school pussy doesn’t mean they have Game as adults. Watching the lone single good-looking 40 year old guy bumble and stumble his way through flirtations given by a woman nearly half his age was painful to watch when he probably should have gotten laid by her on this trip. We were trying to coach him, and shared various stories of outhitting our coverage due to Game or confidence or whatever you want to call it, but he gave too many Fucks that night I guess.
Hanging with guys who are not in my usual socio-economic group showed me once again that it doesn’t matter if you are rich or poor, blue collar or white, were a mack-daddy in high school or a nerd, we’re all up against the same odds (like I wrote about here). And no man ever really “makes” it to the point he can rest on his laurels. We all simply keep trucking through our version of life the best we can, and it is a never ending battle. As our ages continue to advance, the battle becomes more difficult due to metabolism, obligations, kids, and other factors that complicate things some. I am just wrapping up Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich which is more about living a life of motivation and persistence, channeling your sexual energy properly and in doing so you can find a rich life. In laying that foundation, it isn’t fancy to have success. Show up, have enthusiasm, work hard, behave ethically and morally, enjoy the moment. That’s what we’re all trying to do.
In reflecting back on the recent weekend, I’m glad I said ‘yes’ to a random adventure and everyone in my group was too. It’s too easy to stay in the groove we’re in, and too often we say ‘no’ to those opportunities that stare us in the face. If you need some inspiration to say YES more, check out the book Yes Man (later turned into a movie with Jim Carrey, the book is better though).