Wednesday, April 08, 2009

ERICESQUE

Today is Eric's birthday. Where do I even start?
The night I made CWE counselor, I looked around the room and I knew that I would be lifelong friends with some of those people. I did not know I would also be lifelong friends with someone not in that room.

Our second week of training, a new face appeared. "Who is this guy?" I thought. "He looks so young - is he a freshman here to tell us some stuff from a freshman point of view? Or maybe a high schooler, doing a shadow program?"

Turns out - neither. One counselor decided not to continue training, so Eric was pulled in. What luck! I cannot imagine CWE - and life now - without my darling blue-eyed, blond-haired, actor/engineer.

I got to know Eric through JB, who got to know him first. Then he and I gradually got to know one another better. He had to dress up as Clay Aiken for one of our skits and I'm pretty sure that's what ended up drawing me to him, like a moth to a flame.We were friends while we were both in Auburn. I would look for Eric after band practice while I was waiting to ride the Tiger Transit to go to my Tuesday/Thursday night classes and would occasionally grab lunch or something. We both loved musicals so I remember when I told him goodbye in Auburn, it was over Chick-Fil-A and we sang Rent for a really long time in my car.

Eric's and my friendship grew exponentially after I left Auburn. When you have to work for it, everything is better. We stayed in touch about American Idol, his graduation plans (Prattville or LA?), American Idol and sometimes we'd talk about American Idol.
I moved to Nashville and spent the longest time wondering why. Then, when I found out my company was sending me to a conference in Los Angeles, I knew exactly why! Naturally, I finagled them into sending me a few days early so I arranged to take a few days off and planned to visit Eric. Boy, did I plan. I planned and I planned and I planned. I checked out books from the library, I made a spreadsheet and together, Eric and I made a list of every single thing we even considered doing, seeing, eating or visiting. Then we gave each activity a score and ranked them by combined score in order to do the things we both really wanted to and maximize our time together. We had scheduled everything from big activities like Wicked and Leno to small things I didn't want to overlook, like my first trips to Pinkberry or H&M. And while I was making spreadsheets, he was making phone calls - specifically, to arrange for a surprise tour of Warner Brothers and the Friends set!It was so great for me to have something to look forward to that spring - once we hit 50 days, I had a countdown on my office wall. The trip surpassed every possible notion I had of how it would go (conference aside - lame!). Eric was THE BEST host, happily driving me all over L.A. to see things like the Father of the Bride house and Millenium Dance Studio, never once complaining. He had arranged a WB tour for us, knowing how much it meant for me to see the Friends set. He had gotten Leno tickets for us and had even splurged and bought Wicked tickets for us both. It was just the best weekend.
Since then, my visits with him have unfortunately been few and far between. I made sure to find him at the Auburn-Bama game in 2007, and we intentionally bought seats together for the Auburn-UT game last fall so we could spend time with each other while watching the game. So since May 2007, I have seen him a grand total of 2 times. But that's okay because we are still close.
If you knew Eric once upon a time and lost touch with him, I am here to say you are really missing out. He is one of the most honest people I know. He's not afraid to do his own thing or say what he thinks, but is also mature enough to know if it is the right time or place for him to say or do his own thing. He is strong in his beliefs, but will gladly listen to yours and won't judge if you disagree. He is extremely smart, delightfully unaffected, tough but silly, jaded but innocent, cynical but sensitive--and all at the same time. His respect is hard to earn but once you have, I think you've got a friend for life. And boy is he funny. So, so funny.
Eric, you had me at "I don't wanna." You are one of the bravest people I know: You dressed up as Clay Aiken... You moved to L.A. without knowing a soul... You took me on the set of Friends without backup restraining devices... There's not much that phases you in a city and world where it's easy to get caught up in crazy stuff and I love how you are always real and always honest. I wish I were as uninhibited as you. I am just in awe of how you have carved yourself a little world in L.A. I am sure it wasn't easy but you made it look like a cakewalk. Being your friend is one of my greatest privileges. I hope you know how much I admire you. I love you, friend!

7 comments:

  1. Dammit, you got me misty eyed. That was kind of you. Thanks for the encouragement. I promise I'm coming to Nashville soon.

    After that summer, random people would come up to me on campus and introduce themselves to me because they knew me as Clay Aiken at CWE.

    The part of that trip that I always remember is changing in that disgusting Weinerschnitzel bathroom across from NBC. I meant to tell you that the building beside NBC is where Seacrest does his radio show.

    Thank you and Happy Birthday to me.

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  2. This is all so true about Eric. He is so genuine, and so loyal to his friends. I love him too!

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  3. Jamie Bradford4/08/2009 11:23 AM

    What a sweet post! I want to be Eric's friend now! Ha!

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  4. And I hear he's single.

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  5. Happy birthday to Eric, whose blog I read regularly despite not actually knowing him!

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  6. aww love Eric. Happy Birthday, a little late!

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Oh goody!

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