Seven years ago I made a friend. Somewhere between grabbing a sandwich at Quizno's for lunch and rushing for the last Sunday bus home from downtown. Through the years we were bumping into each other and catching up with stories from our lives through random meetings at places we both would visit often. Like last week- I was getting my usual hot dog with a side of chili and he was drinking a beer at a pub we both like. Not a person I've spent a lot of time with, not really someone I hang out with, but always present somewhere in my social circles and great to have a heart to heart moment with. You know people like this- you may not see them for months at a time, but when they do come back it's like they never left. And given that I live in a place where people never stay- a transient town of Gainesville he might now be my oldest friend in town, because unlike many people I've met around the same time he was from here. As we were catching up somewhere between his cigarette moment and his next round of beer I told him about my trip to Munich and the book I have out. He told me how inspired he was when I was not backing down from my dream of getting into law school again, how I was making the rounds, meeting with everyone I'd have to meet just to convice them of my worth. And then he said how amazed he was when he saw my picture in the newspaper. It wasn't simply a picture. You've taken the whole spread! He remembers sitting with his friends at a table with my story practically dominating the issue. Everyone was impressed with the lengths I would go to and wanted to know more about my battle. And they wondered, what would it take for the school to give in and why I was facing those problems. You showed everybody- he said. - That was over six years ago, nobody knows who I am anymore. And then I said how can I make an impact and anybody care about people like me if I need to reintroduce the struggle and the discussion every five years, because everybody here moves away. You turn around and it's an entirely different city. He then said that I've made an impact on him and that what I showed him had mattered. I went on to tell him how much of an impact he made on me. Around the time we've met he lost his mother to cancer. He then faced a lot of personal problems that would break most of us. And for a while they were getting to him as well. But I've seen him- lifting himself up from underneath everything that life threw at him. Overcoming depression and putting his life back together to be stronger than he's ever been. To become the great person he is today. He was there on the sidelines of my life while I was watching his. And I told him that he's one of the most inspiring people I've ever met. Perhaps this is true about inspiration: maybe it's where you find it. Maybe we can all inspire each other. And I feel it's good to have someone who remembers who you used to be. Who can remind of you of your own journey, who can give you props when you don't give yourself enough credit. Who can remember, when you forget, because they were right with you- when it happened.
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