I don’t eat meat at home often. But now that it’s summer, I’ve been barbecuing like a banshee. I go to this small butchery where I know everyone on a first name basis. One of the butchers is named Skyler.
Yesterday, I was talking to Skyler (that’s not a picture of him above) when he abruptly said, “You know we know each other right?”
"Of course we do bud."
"No, like I know your last name and your family"
"Oh…" This is where a deep feeling of dickitude started running over me.
"Ya, we grew up on the same street"
That’s when I placed Skyler. He was in my class through elementary school. Around 12, my family moved to a different city and we lost touch. In those 18 years apart, Skyler had grown a few feet and gained a couple hundred pounds. Still, I felt like a total dick for barely acknowledging him for all the time I’d been going to the butcher.
Almost immediately, I could tell life hadn’t treated Skyler well. It wasn’t that he was over-weight or working a minimum wage job. It was the way he phrased his questions.
"I bet you went to college, uh." If you read this blog regularly, you know I think college is a culturally acceptable way to waste four years. Skyler (12 years after graduating high school) obviously still had a chip on his shoulder about not going. Whatever path you choose in life, own it. And that doesn’t mean hide your jealousy. It means embracing the choices you made. Good or bad, they’re yours to keep.
"Do you live nearby? It’s way too expensive for me." I live in a small house in a great location. Compared to NYC, I’m paying practically nothing. When you’re choosing a place to live, first decide the location and then find something in your budget. Your money should be spent on experiences, not an extra dining room.
"I wanted to be a graphic designer, but I guess I wasn’t good enough." This broke my heart. If you have a passion for something, it should either be your profession or your hobby. Never lose a dream. Look, I may never be John John, but that doesn’t stop me from surfing my brains out.
"What do you do for work?" This is where Skyler brightened up. Usually, I tell strangers that I work in private equity. But I chose to tell Skyler that I was unemployed. Both are lies. But I could instantly see the relief come over him. As if he had won the conversation. I didn’t mind. If I could improve Skyler’s day by not telling the whole truth, that was fine by me. A gentleman never kicks a man when he’s down.
By the time I got home, Skyler had already sent me a Facebook friend request, which I happily accepted. There was a time in my life where I wouldn’t have thought twice about our short conversation. Now, I can’t help but dwell on it. I’m sure I’ll see Skyler again soon. And I’ll be checking up.