Saturday, February 21, 2009

3rd Grade

We moved around a lot when I was young. I was born in Los Angeles, moved to Texas at 2, moved to Wyoming at 3, and then to Southern Illinois (Carlinville to be exact) when I was 8. My first day of 3rd grade in the new school was of course a bit scary. Not only did I not know anyone of course, but now it was really starting to matter. By 3rd grade cliques are already forming, friendships are budding, and in Carlinville, people are meeting the people that they will one day marry. The majority of my graduating class in C'ville found their spouse among the other constituents of our high school. I obviously didn't, but my best friend Ashish did. Ashish was the first person to come up and talk to me in Mrs. Priest's 3rd grade class. It might have even been on the first day of school. We became instant friends. We started have sleepovers soon after that on the weekends, jumping on the trampoline at our house, making home movies, playing games, and just being kids. Ashish and I were also pretty nerdy. We always did well on tests, did our homework and in Junior High we were both star players on the scholastic bowl team. The other interesting thing about Ashish is that his family believed and practiced Hinduism. In their basement they had a Puja room, which I was never allowed to enter, but which greatly intrigued me. Ashish would go in there sometimes to pray, and his dad would go in there almost every day. He taught me a lot about his religion and I taught him about mine. I was very interested in his beliefs, but of course I knew that I had the truth so I never though of exploring his religion beyond a curious interest. Ashish and I remained close friends until my dad was finally transferred back to Houston when I was nearly 16. After we both went college, I went on my mission and moved to new york, Ashish married a lovely girl who was a year younger than us in school, Jessica, he finished med. school, went to the Mayo clinic to do his residency, then do a fellowship in St. Louis. Over all those years, we have hardly spoken on the phone, but when we have he would always ask if I was married, ask about my life etc. Since I wasn't ever sure I would have ever sit down with him again, I just never felt to come out to him. Until this week. Ashish and his wife Jessica (I found this out because she is an AVID facebook user) came to Chicago this week because Ashish is doing another year of training, and the program he wants is in Chicago! So on Thursday night of this week I sat down with him, his wife, and another friend from Carlinville, Brad, who also happens to live here (again Facebook is how he and I found each other). We had a 3 1/2 hour dinner together! It was so enjoyable. The people that they have become are exactly like the people I knew and loved growing up. It was crazy! I finally had a chance to explain everything about my sexuality and the changes that have taken place in my life. Ashish said to me, "wow you really are exactly the same as I remember". I told him that I felt the same way about him. Both Ashish and Brad have families and have 2 children each. What a wonderful moment to spend with old old friends and be able to reminisce about the past with people who were really there. We had so many fun stories to share with one another, and we laughed a lot. 3 1/2 hour dinner! That says it all. As I walked home I felt so good about life and the people we get to share our lives with. Its such a tender blessing to have friends, and its even better when people are just here to love and embrace one another and make this walk of life a richer place for everyone who they meet.

7 comments:

Ezra said...

I have a friend like that--he lives in Maine, and every time we reconnect, which these days is less than once a year, it's like we were never apart. Totally loving, accepting best friends for life.

It's wonderful.

Jen said...

Clark, let's not forget that I was in Mrs. Priest's class too!! :-) I am so glad that you came to Carlinville and spent as many years as you did there. We truly love you and will always want the best for you. We are so blessed to have known you. Ashish & Jessica are so wonderful and I haven't seen them myself in almost 15 years. (OMG! We am so old!) I am so happy that you got to spend some quality time with them. I can't wait to see you myself! And, kudos to Facebook again or I wouldn't have found you either! Hope to see you soon!

Jen said...

Sorry...We ARE so old! (and I'm a Literacy Coach...scary!)

CLARK JOHNSEN said...

LOL Jen! Well I can't wait to blog about seeing YOU and remembering all our good old times. SO FUN!

Keri said...

I have a few friends like that too, and it's truly a blessing to have found such wonderful and REAL best friends.

Svenska and Sheau said...

I hope you realize that when I talk about friends like this I am almost always talking about you and your family. That sounds like such a great night. How fun!

Nicole B. said...

Oh, Clark- remember that first tap class we took together, and you were passionate, and I was just bad? Yeah, good times. Miss you too, my stripping warrior. That makes me giggle.