Brace yourself… a super sappy quote is coming, and I just wanted you to be prepared…

“Many people will walk in and out of your life, but only true friends will leave footprints in your heart.”

Eleanor Roosevelt

Awwwwwwww!!! My heart is melting with sentiment and love and lots of footprints.

If you thought I was this big, burly, tough, chiseled man with no emotional connection to anything in the world… you’d be mostly right… minus the burly, tough, chiseled, no-emotional-connection part.

I happen to have an overdeveloped sense of sentimentality that, as a child, caused me to start crying out of nowhere in the back seat of my parent’s car because I remembered a pre-school friend of mine whom I hadn’t seen in two years.

“I just miss him, bahaha!” I wailed as they looked concernedly to one another and asked the other who the hell I was talking about.  

“Aaron! We were best friends and now I don’t know where he is, waaaah!” (Those are the sounds I made when I cried. I’m pretty sure I’ve grown out of it.)

My mom was brilliant at handling these sorts of meltdowns and took me to the pet store. She bought me a betta fish, that I named Aaron, and that calmed me down.

Side note: The average lifespan of these betta fish is 3-5 years. That betta fish lived for like 9 before it stupidly swam up into a seashell that was in its bowl, got stuck, and died.

Looking back, I wouldn’t be surprised if my mom was buying a similar-looking betta fish every so often to replace the original Aaron for several years until she felt I was emotionally capable of handling the loss of a fish at the age of 29… ahem.. excuse me, I meant 15.

After a moment of silence, tears, and reaching way too far to find some sort of symbolism around the loss of this fish being a sort of bridge from childhood to manhood, I put him and his shell-coffin in a metal tin, dug a hole in the middle of our backyard lawn, and buried him there.

Turns out, the hole was waaaay too shallow and the shell/dead fish combo gave off a pungent odor, which led to our dog finding Aaron’s resting place. Our dog felt it was necessary to move Aaron…
and destroy his shell…
and eat his remains.

“Get to the point, Erik!”

My point is… I take friendships very seriously. I am who I am today because of the relationships I’ve had over the years with people who have been with me during life-changing moments. These friends have kept me grounded. They’ve kept me safe. They’ve helped me grow and learn and be a better person.

I guess what I’m saying is, I’m thankful for my friends… and you should be to.

Grateful for my friends I mean. You should be grateful for MY friends.

No, no, no… I make jokes… be grateful for YOUR friends.

After one of these posts, a friend reached out and said he wished we could stay in touch better. He and I were besties during high school, and I echoed his sentiment. I, too, wish we could see each other more, but life happens. Work, spouses, kids… all take over and that means we only see each other once every few years.

Does that mean our friendship wasn’t as strong as we thought?

I don’t think so.

But we used to be so close! We knew everything about each other. We discussed the future and made plans to buy neighboring houses, have our kids play on the same sports teams, go on vacations with our families, start businesses together, make bazillions, and be BFFs.

What happened?

Looking back at the people who, at some point in my life, held the title of my “best friend,” I wonder how we could go from hanging out every day for years, to not seeing or talking to each other for years at a time.

Does that make either one of us a bad friend?

I hope not, because I would hold the label as world’s worst friend. And there’s no way I would ever consider them bad friends, in fact, I think the world of them.

If any one of them called me at 3 a.m. needing help, and somehow my phone wasn’t on silent, and was able to wake me up, and I could recognize their name through my groggy, tired eyesight, I’d probably answer… and I think they’d do the same for me.

Maybe I should test it out.

If anyone reading this at one point considered me a best friend, keep your phone on, I’ll give you a call tonight.
(I won’t.)
(Or will I?)

I’ll wrap this up with a challenge to you.

Challenge:

  1. Go back as far as you can and write down the name of your earliest best friend.
  2. Then, make a list of all those friends you’ve had throughout your life up to this moment in time that at one point held the title of your best friend or great friend.
  3. Finally, one by one, reach out to them.
    Start at the earliest and make your way to the most current. I recommend a phone call, but if you want to be lazy or they prefer text, email, fax or a handwritten letter, then do those.

    See how they’re doing.
    Let them know you remember them.
    Let them know you still care about them.
    Let them know you miss them.
    Share a couple “remember that one time when” stories.

It might get awkward, especially if your friendship was halted on testy circumstances or if you are married and they are of the opposite sex and also married. Don’t be reckless or creepy or weird. Just let them know that you appreciate the friendship you had/have.

I’m in the middle of doing this challenge myself.

That’s the end of this post unless you’re interested in some of the great friends I’ve had in the past. They are below.

Otherwise, get out there and connect with some of the people who, at one point, were the most important people in your life.

Let me know how yours goes.

My best friends
This is tricky, because I have several friends who could be on this list, but time and space are limited. Don’t be offended. I still love you.

Kimmy – Kimmy was my first best friend. She and her family lived directly across the street from me. We had to have been, I don’t know… 3 or 4 years old. I don’t have many memories that far back, but I do remember feeling like I always had a good friend to play with just outside my front window. Kimmy’s family moved away and the last in-person memory I have of her was when we ran into each other at a Chuck E. Cheese a few years after she had moved away. There was a birthday party she was at and I’m not sure what I was doing there. Probably dominating the Pirate Ship game.

Caitlin and I moved into our first house about three years ago and that meant my mom could pass down my inheritance of EVERYTHING I had ever done. It was truly a remarkable collection she had amassed over the course of 28 years. She had every report card, spelling test, newspaper article, art project… Everything I had done since birth.

Well, one of the things she had was a stack of letters Kimmy and I wrote to each other when we were little. I did a quick Facebook search and found her. We exchanged quick messages and it sounds like she is doing amazing things with her work and her husband. As part of this challenge, I reached out again and shared the Chuck E. Cheese memory.


Aaron (the fish’s namesake) – I have never been able to track down Aaron. After the meltdown in the car, my mom did all she could to try and find him and his family. We literally pulled out the White Pages (anyone remember that?) and called all the people in the state with his same last name, asking if they were the correct Aaron.

Aside:
My mom is absolutely amazing. What mom, after seeing her son randomly cry about a pre-school friend pulls out the phone book and calls everyone with the same last name?

Back to the mom-private-investigator:
We finally got in contact with an Aaron who we believed was the same one and…

he couldn’t remember who I was.

I was devastated.
Clearly my emotional investment in that friendship dwarfed his… by like… 100%.


Stevie – Steve’s dad and my dad were best friends as adults. They played on the same men’s league basketball teams so Steve and I would play together on the sidelines. I’m a month and a day older than Steve, but like, several years wiser…

Steve and I grew up playing on the same Jr. Jazz and Super League basketball teams. We even won a National Championship in 2-Ball together. The NBA flew us out to San Antonio during the NBA Finals where, after we won, they treated us to Game 1 of the finals. San Antonio went on to win their first NBA championship in 1999 (the birth of my Spurs fandom).

We loved basketball and Steve was a remarkable shooter until a tragic accident left him without vision in one of his eyes. He continued playing basketball, but the sport becomes much harder when you can’t see one side of your body.

Steve and I have always been close without having to see each other often. Steve has a way of persuading people to do silly things and, as we got into competing high schools, he would persuade his student section to cheer an opposing team’s player (me). Somehow, at an away game to his high school, their student section would be cheering for me during both warm ups and the actual game while at the same time, viciously heckling everyone else on my team.

“Why are they cheering for you?” a teammate asked.  
“Long story. Just give me the ball.”

In a previous blog post, I mentioned someone with different political views as myself who would go to lunch with me weekly while in college. This was Steve. He and I recently had an hour-long phone call where we talked about the BLM movement, COVID-19, presidential candidates, and (most important) his first child on the way.

I still consider Steve one of my best friends and, even if we don’t talk for a year or two, when we do get together, we’re immediately back to our irreverent, silly selves.

Justin – Justin is my cousin. We grew up living down the street from one another. We walked to elementary school together every day. We drove to middle school together every day in the same carpool. During the summer, I’d go to his house and break in so I could wake him up and drag him to a park to play tennis or just hang out. I had a lot of fun with Justin and, being the older cousin, I probably bullied him more than I should have.

He moved about 25 minutes away during high school and we didn’t see each other as often, but we still kept in touch. After I got home from my mission, we turned into full-fledged adults and really only see each other at family gathering (Christmas parties, weddings, etc.) where I get to remind him that he may be a decent ping pong player, but there can only be one Highlander!

Me.

I’m the Highlander of ping pong.
You don’t know who Highlander is?!
Check out the 1986 movie titled: Highlander.
*Warning… pretty violent.

I miss our friendship terribly. Justin has a cell phone, but NEVER ANSWERS! If he’s reading this, when my name pops up, push or slide the Green button!


Brandyn – Oh man… Brandyn has one of the most embarrassing stories of my life to hold over my head involving a scout trip to Tracy Aviary and me needing to go to the bathroom really, really badly. He also performed one of the greatest feats of loyalty I’ve ever experienced during the 6th grade fun run.

We grew up in the same neighborhood and shared a love of sports, specifically basketball. Brandyn had 2 hoops at his house so we could play a modified full-court game. He could lower his hoops, enabling us to have dunk contests and to recreate the moves we saw Michael Jordan do on TV. Brandyn could always jump higher than me and do much cooler dunks than I could.

I’ve never felt like I deserved Brandyn’s friendship. He has always been much nicer to me than I have been to him. We get together occasionally or run into each other at random times. Most recently, he painted our previous house that we sold about a year ago and, in my opinion, did such a good job that we were able to get a lot more for the sell of our house than we would have otherwise.

Brandyn is a great man. He has an adorable family and has always been upfront, honest, and kind to everyone I’ve ever seen him interact with.


Jacob – There was a brief time in elementary school where Jacob and I were super close. He moved here and started his new life in my 5th grade class with Mrs. Vimahi (still my favorite teacher ever). Jacob was an incredible artist. He could draw the most amazing things without having to trace or look at a picture to copy it. I specifically remember him drawing a jaguar (the cat, not the car) that was so realistic I couldn’t believe anyone had that kind of talent, let alone a 10 year old. I was soooo jealous.

He and I ran together (as in jogging) a lot during recess or when there was scheduled track time where our entire grade would run around outside. I remember he gave me a fossilized turtle head he got from South Carolina. I thought it was the coolest thing ever.

He moved to a different elementary school for 6th grade and we ended up running into each other again in middle school. By that time, our interests and hobbies diverged pretty dramatically, but I still randomly see him every couple of years at a Turkey Bowl football game.


Donald – Where to start with the Don…
First off, Donald and I are pictured as the main image of this post. I didn’t want to use a stock photo because most the pictures that came up were of two girls and I just don’t know that they fit this post. That picture was taken in Moab, UT with matching hats and shirts. I warned him about that picture making its appearance about 5 seconds before I published this post. You’re welcome.

He and I were very close from 3rd grade on. We played on the same baseball/basketball teams for years. We worked at the same golf course together. We went on family vacations together. And somehow, we never went to the same school together. He was also the one I considered my best friend through the crazy years of high school.

We were very similar athletically, meaning we were both about the same size and we were both highly skilled in several different sports. He and I could challenge one another at a very high level in pretty much any activity we tried.

When we were on the same team, I felt like we didn’t need to talk to communicate. We just knew what the other was thinking and what we would do before it happened. There was this almost mind-reading experience playing on the same team with him and I felt we would always beat anyone foolish enough to challenge us (and we did).

When we had to play against each other, I always felt like I had to prove that I was the Alpha. I don’t think I ever did, but that was the mindset.  Whether it was guarding each other during practice (the coach ALWAYS favored Donald by never calling fouls on him) or when we found ourselves on opposite teams in high school, we pushed each other to become better at everything we did.

As I mentioned before, high school is a stressful, emotional time for any teenager, and Donald was always there for me. My parents divorced when I was a junior. I was devastated, and in my teenage rage, I wanted to get away from both of them. He and his family had a little apartment set up at the back of their garage with two bedrooms and a bathroom. Donald and I lived there for a couple months while the chaos at my home calmed down.

I could write a book about the adventures we had but that would just embarrass both of us. Given both the length of time and the period in our lives that we were the closest, I treat this friendship as sacred, and even though he lives several states away, if he ever needed anything, I’d be on the first flight out.

He just got married and is a freaking doctor! What a stud. We competed with and against each other most recently in Man Games (I won if anyone is curious. I organized the whole event and chose the sports so… kind of had an advantage… but still… Alpha).

Josh – Josh and I grew up in the same neighborhood (I’m starting to see how important your neighborhood is). We had a rivalry early on with Nerf gun fights, soccer at recess, and the annual 5k fun run. Once we moved into middle school, it was less a rivalry and more of a goofy friendship.

We had a tough time taking anything seriously. School projects usually turned into questionable comedy sketches with Shakespearean sonnets about the rains down in Africa and the most amazing Tom and Huck reenactments this side of the Mississippi.

We served in neighboring church missions and both learned Russian. We came home and both majored in Russian and had several college classes together.

After college, life happened again, and we tend to see each other at Turkey Bowl games or talk on random phone calls.


Alex – Alex is a friendship that, admittedly, I feel like I ruined. We were super close in middle school and if we needed to do a partner project in some class, he and I would team up. We made arguably the greatest research presentation in history that covered Albinism with crystal clarity and endless detail. He also played a role in a church movie and I thought that was so cool. I’ve seen the movie a hundred times and I feel pretty special whenever I can say “I know him!”

Even though we went to different high schools after middle school, during our sophomore year we still hung out with the same crowd frequently (Josh from earlier was part of this crowd).

Our friendship hit a rocky spot because of, you guessed it… a girl. My recollection of events is that he had a big crush on a girl. Given that we no longer attended the same school, I wasn’t aware of the amplitude of this crush and I ended up with said girl for a month or so. My intention was never to act maliciously or shady, but I can see how what I did would be seen that way. I think it drove a wedge between us that never fully recovered.

I see Alex occasionally and think the world of him. Even though we don’t talk much, I still enjoy learning through the grapevine how awesome he and his family are doing.


Jen – I was super awkward from elementary school through high school. Especially with girls. Caitlin says I still am so… there you have it.

Other than Kimmy when I was 3 or 4, Jen was my first really good friend that was also a girl. I don’t even remember how we became friends, but she was my bestie in 9th grade. We could just hang out and talk about anything.

We stayed friends through high school, and she married her high school sweetheart who happens to be one of the coolest guys I know.


Sam – Sam was my first great friend at my new high school. I lived in the boundaries of Hillcrest High (Where Jen, Alex, Josh, Donald, Jacob, Brandyn, and Justin all went to school), but I ended up going to Jordan High. Go Beetdiggers!

I didn’t know many people at Jordan when I started my sophomore year. I honestly don’t remember how Sam and I met, but we soon became best friends over our shared love of basketball.

He had a high-end basketball hoop that didn’t break your hand every time you dunked on someone, so we spent hours at his house playing dunk ball until his parents or neighbors came out saying we were being way too loud for midnight.

He was with me when I took my Corvette out for a drive and, while trying to be cool, soon realized that there was this terrible burning smell coming from the car. I thought my dad was going to kill me, and I had no idea what I had done wrong. I got out of the car and noticed the smell wasn’t coming from the engine, but from a rear wheel. I got back in the car and saw that I had been driving the past several minutes with the emergency brake engaged… hence the burning smell.

Sam was with me when I drove by my crush’s house at night one time and, mistaking her sister for her, yelled “Hi Caitlin!” and drove off as fast as we could.

Super embarrassing.

I ended up marrying that crush of mine though so was it a stupid, awkward high school move or a brilliant dating tactic?

Sam is now a great man with a beautiful family. He prompted this blog post after he reached out to me. There are some bricks outside Jordan High with alumni names on them. He and I are right next to each other and will be for as long as bricks last. Quick rant… my high school literally NEVER spelled my name correctly. Every certificate, trophy, medal, plaque, and brick have my name spelled wrong!

Sam’s brick is a row above mine, which is a metaphor for how he will always be a level above me in life.


Brock – Brock is a character. We met on the football team at Jordan and I couldn’t stand him. On a designed run play, he’s waving his arms 15 yards downfield trying to tell me he’s open. I was the quarterback. I didn’t have the ball, BECAUSE I HAD ALREADY HANDED IT OFF!

Somehow, his mixture of craziness and insanity together with my calm and stability came together to confuse everyone on how we were friends.

Countless late-night runs to Del Taco and hot tubbing prompted several conversations about life, lacrosse, how Kobe will never be as great as MJ, and religion.

Brock went through a tough time as his mom was diagnosed with cancer while we were in high school. He moved into our house for a short time and I’ll never forget looking into his room (where we kept our pet bird) and he was nodding up and down, mimicking the bird’s head and squawking at it. He didn’t know I was watching, but it had to be one of the dumbest/funniest things I had ever seen. He was hilarious.

Brock has a heart of gold and would stop the world to go and help a friend. That sentence there sums up Brock the best way I know how.

I last saw Brock at his mother’s funeral this past year. She survived another 16 years before cancer got her. When we saw each other, it was like nothing had changed… well, except his hair. He has a wonderful wife and beautiful child.

Shake n’ Bake!


Brigham – Brigham and I met at tryouts for the high school basketball team in 9th grade. We were approximately the same size and likely going to play the same position. I hated playing against him because he was way more athletic than I was and played much more physical than I did. Somehow, I’d always walk away from an encounter with him with a dead knee, fat lip, or hurt pride.

Brigham and his family became a second family to me during high school. His mom and dad were always referred to as Mama and Papa Mero.

Three of my favorite basketball memories involve Brigham.

1. An alley-oop dunk he had at Timpanogus.
2. A game-sealing dunk against Hillcrest at Jordan (my personal rival if you have read about previous friends).
3. A buzzer-beater 3-pointer in a hard-fought game against a team in Las Vegas.

Yours truly threw Brigham the ball on all three of those plays.

I don’t always pass… but when I do… I hope Brigham is the one catching that pass because I know he’ll make good things happen with it.

Brigham met his wife on a blind date accompanied by Caitlin and me. We didn’t introduce them, nor did we go on any other dates together afterward, but I’ll still take credit for that assist as well.

I miss playing ball and just hanging around Brigham. He always makes you feel good as a person and has one of the prettiest jump shots I’ve ever seen.

 
Matt – Matt is another friend who, like Brock, I didn’t particularly like when I first met him. We looked different. We acted different. We were good at sports the other hated. We were bad at sports the other loved… Except ping pong.

Matt and I spent countless nights staying up until 2 or 3 in the morning playing ping pong at my house and talking about life, girls, school, and sports. I lost track, but he is one of the few people on planet earth to have beaten me more than five times at ping pong. The head to head record is somewhere in the neighborhood of 1000-7, but still, 7 is impressive in my book.

In Matt’s words, “No one knew we were friends, so they wouldn’t make the connection. I remember someone asking, ‘wait, are you friends with Soda?’ and I said, ‘well, we don’t hang out with each other’s friends, but we hang out with each other after we hang out with our friends,’ and it blew their minds.”

Matt was the catalyst to me connecting with Caitlin after my mission. He planted the seed in her brain that I was somewhat normal, and he got her phone number for me. He has since moved out of the state, but we still text each other fairly regularly.

“1234”


Evan – Evan is Brigham’s younger brother. He played on the same high school basketball team with us and was always mature beyond his years. He and Brigham both have some dirt on me involving the classic Hinder song Lips of an Angel, but we won’t go into that here.

Evan and I eventually ended up working together as we were making our way through college and starting young families. He became my supervisor, but could never keep me in line. Evan has dry wit and a laugh that is infectious. He is a great man and someone I look to emulate.


Chalyn – Chalyn dated another friend on this list for a long time, which meant that we hung out a lot. She would ask me if I could help her understand her boyfriend/my best friend’s mindset and I’d ask her for help with other girls I liked. Our nicknames for each other were Roommate because that’s the kind of friendship we had. We spent so many weekends and summer nights hanging out at her house playing pool and driving around in her Escalade.

This may be TMI, but when I was heading on my mission, I received advice from several returned missionaries that I should have a photo album with family and friends. They made a point to say that I should have a picture of a girlfriend that was waiting for me. Even if I didn’t really have a girlfriend waiting for me, I should say I did, otherwise, there would be girls making all kinds of awkward attempts at getting with me or old people trying to line me up with their kids or grand kids.

Chalyn and I were not boyfriend/girlfriend and she was not waiting for me, but she was my closest girl that was a friend at the time, and I had a picture of her so, she became that picture. It didn’t stop some strange advances while in Russia, but I think it hindered a few.

We lost touch after I went on my mission and came home. I see her dad fairly often and get news on how she’s doing. I truly hope she is happy.  

Andrew – Andrew and I met at a basketball camp. I was the only one from my high school. He had a couple other buddies from his school there and, because I was a teenager, I decided they were punks and I needed to embarrass them.

He was an incredible defender and I always had to be en garde when he was on me. We later played on the same men’s league team where we quickly became close friends.

Andrew looked like Zac Efron, just not a tiny person, so it got pretty annoying when ladies just wanted to be my friend to get his number. Andrew helped me get out of my shell by always being ready and willing to have an adventure. Late night drives singing Apologize by One Republic at the top of our lungs with our heads out the window were common place, as were 1 a.m. text messages from him saying he’s coming over.

Andrew was the first to greet me when I got home from my two year mission. We haven’t been the best at keeping in touch since we became old and don’t play in basketball leagues much anymore, but I still consider him an incredible friend. He is engaged! I better get the invite!


Jordan – Jordan and I were in the same group in the MTC. Jordan has this unique ability to make you feel like any walls you may have put up to the world to guard yourself have no place when you’re around him. In the first minute of meeting him, you basically spill your soul to him, and the best part is, he’s trustworthy enough to keep you safe.

We survived the MTC together. We saw Prague, Stockholm, Armenia, and all of Southern Russia together. Jordan is a great man and a great friend. He said he would bring his family over sometime soon for dinner. I’m going to hold you to that Jordan!


Devin – Affectionately known as Petie the Person in our home, Devin was my companion in the MTC and then again for 5 transfers in the mission field. In our 24-month mission, we were together as companions for 10 months (that’s rare). He is also the person I was traveling with during my Russian police story.

Devin and I are quite different. He was from the roaring metropolis of Firth with a population of like 100 people (492). I was raised in a slightly larger metropolis that had 2,723 times the population of Firth. He was a cross country runner (something I despise) and a potato farmer (manual labor also isn’t my thing).

Even though I outweigh him by a good 40 lbs., he would always beat me in wresting. Apparently every move I ever tried was “illegal,” so anytime I had him pinned he would just shriek that I was breaking the rules, but he was crafty and as strong as a really small ox.

Devin is the salt of the earth and never afraid to tell you how he sees it. He lives in Idaho on the way to Oregon where we visit family every once in a while, and he and his wife are always kind enough to let us stay at their house when we make that trip.

He is Petie the Person because we have a dog named Petie (named after Devin).

Steve – I met Steve on the mission as well. We cemented our friendship by singing the lyrics to songs along the streets and in the apartment buildings of Russia (we both have terrible voices… sorry Steve). His lyrical prowess spanned several genres and he seemed to know all the words to the obscure songs I liked. He joined me on trips to Stockholm and Madrid that were unforgettable.

We attended BYU and took a few classes together. He was on both the track and cross-country teams at BYU and had a twisted sense of pleasure. I’d want to get in better shape and he would offer to go for a jog. While I was dying and running at what I felt was break-neck speed, he was basically speed-walking, letting me know that I was terribly out of shape without ever actually saying those words.

Steve can be downright goofy and then shift gears to become the most spiritually deep person you’ve ever met. He is awesome.


Dmitry – Dima is that last of the mission friends highlighted here. Dima was born and raised in Kazakhstan. We bonded over a disagreement about how Adam (from Adam and Eve) was most definitely not Korean (Dima is half Korean). Dima’s native language is Russian, so he was a massive help to me as I learned the language and I credit him with what I felt was a decent accent whenever I spoke.

When it came to teaching together, I don’t think you could find a better duo. Similar to the Donald-basketball-mindreading experience, the same would happen while teaching with Dima. We just always seemed to be on the same wavelength.

We came from different cultures, we enjoyed a lot of different things, but we always got along incredibly well. I was fortunate enough to have a reunion with him a few months ago as he came to Salt Lake City as part of his job. We didn’t get to spend much time together, but after 10 years of not seeing one another, we had the same laughs, jokes, and his immaturity to fall back on.

“Zhopa 1”


Nathan –Nate and I played baseball growing up. My team always destroyed his, and I wouldn’t have called us friends at the time, but I knew who he was. His nickname back then was Joker, probably because he was super immature and weird. He was/is that guy who is never afraid to do crazy things and be the class clown.

Well, fast-forward a few years and we end up being mission companions in the middle of Russia. We spent 3 months as companions and, even though he was older than I was, I pretty much taught him everything he knows.

He returned the favor when we moved 2 blocks away from each other as adults. I’m not what most would consider a manly man. I don’t have nice tools. I don’t really have any tools. Nate was always willing to let me borrow tools and come over to help me with sprinklers, lights, yard work, or any of the other basic things related to owning a home. I figure he owes me a lifetime’s work of labor, though after I almost single-handedly dug his in-ground trampoline and moved 8 tons of rock around his yard.

We still talk regularly whenever he wants to borrow my tools or take advantage of my softball skills.


Bradford – Brad and I lived in the same neighborhood as I was finishing up college and starting my professional life. We ended up working at the same company together and developing an app together. Jamming with Brad about business ideas, the news, life, and just laughing through everything we did was always a real treat. Brad is a cancer survivor and I have never met anyone who routinely makes the day of any stranger with whom he interacts. He is never too busy to take the time to learn someone’s story and be kind to others.

My dad owns rental apartments that were supposed to be my inheritance. Brad bought one of them and has an eye on another. He’s basically trying to steal my inheritance, but I’m like… whatever.


Brandon – Brandon is who I consider my current bestie. Besties with testes… as they say… We work together and share many common interests like Harry Potter, golf, pickleball, ping pong, tennis, and deep, mathematical philosophy. Brandon is a wiz when it comes to numbers and his brain never stops computing every possible outcome. I feel like my role in the relationship is to tell him to stop thinking about everything and just buy stuff. His wife probably hates me because I’ve talked Brandon into Man Games, a guy’s golf trip to St. George, about 159 different pickleball paddle models, and a few new sets of golf clubs.

Brandon has what we both affectionately call a resting bitch face (RBF). He looks like a ‘bro’ because he is ‘swole’ and has the RBF, but in reality, he is so incredibly thoughtful and kind. He is the first to give you the shirt of his back if you need it (so he can show off his guns).

Caitlin – The greatest friend of all, my wife. Caitlin was my first and strongest high school crush. As mentioned earlier, I didn’t know very many people going into my sophomore year at Jordan. On the 2nd day of school, she walked into one of my classes and I had to pick my jaw up off the floor. My parents knew her as “Seminary Girl” because that was the class we had together.

I never had the guts to talk to her in high school. We went on two dates. She declined my proposal to take her to prom (she says she had already been asked… riiight). When I left on my mission, I thought I’d never see her again.

Thanks to the previously mentioned Matt, when I got home, I called her up. I was so afraid that I was going to screw something up whenever we went on a date. For some strange reason, she kept saying yes as I kept asking her on more dates, and finally, when I asked her to marry me.

She is my rock. She is the mother to our 3 precious kids. She has helped me reach my best, and she has pulled me out of my worst.

We have a craft that says, “Happiness is being married to your best friend.”

How true that is.

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