Saturday, February 2, 2013

Friendship and Acts of Kindness

I met up with Nate this afternoon and it's been almost 15 years since we last spoke. Nate Cloutier was living in Stamford and I was in town working on a project. He contacted me on facebook and we decided to meet for lunch.

I haven't seen Nate Cloutier since college. I was a freshman and living on the second floor in a residential dorm at Northwestern University. Nate was on the 3rd floor and a sophomore. I was fascinated by how happy and upbeat Nate always seemed. He was already quick to laugh, smile, and had new ideas he was cooking up. I was more left-brain and he was more right-brain.

When I was hired for the summer by the Chicago Tribune and had to go take a mandatory drug test in an unfamiliar part of town, Nate agreed to drive me. We squeeze into his small used Mercedes and began making our way to the south side of Chicago in a nefariously vague area. This was before the age of GPS or smart phone so we very quickly got lost. For some reason I wasn't nervous. We spoke about learning Spanish by listening to the radio, my summer roommate's harp playing skills, and life. I do remember that we also laughed a lot. When I get in a certain mood, I can become possessed with the spirit of pun jokes. Nate's laughter only fueled my mind riffing and pun'ing off of everything we saw. As we gamboled around we fell into an instant rapport.

I arrived at the testing center right before it closed. I gave a sample of urine for testing and remarked at how easy everything seemed. My mind was relaxed despite getting lost, despite the pressures of school, and being with an unfamiliar person. I had a list of things to do and was behind on homework, but when Nate said 'you want to get something to eat' it felt like a release from all of that.

We ate at a Polish pizza parlor on the South Side that was packed with U of Chicago students. I believe I drank beer or root beer along with heaping piles of square steaming pizza stacked with Polish sausage. And then we drove back to Northwestern.

On that day someone went out of there way to help me who I barely knew. The kindness was pure and fraternal. It wasn't embellished but very very easy. I will always remember kindness like that. And all these years later I got the chance to tell him today: I remember. Thank you. 

1 comment:

Mildred said...

These small gestures matter a great deal.