Matt Bueter's words at the conclusion of Dave Fridley's wedding summed up just about everyone's thoughts: "Can you believe that just happened?" As I stood next to my longtime friend Rachel Esther, I was in total agreement. I had just witnessed my first close friend to get married. A strange situation. Dave's wedding brought me back to my "hometown" for the first time in nearly three years. Which made for an interesting 24 hours.
The journey to my hometown was an interesting one. I left Thursday night after a RiverHawks game. My plan was to avoid the Chicago traffic by driving through it at night. I would drive until I was too tired to drive anymore. I went to my apartment, grabbed my stuff, and hit the road around 11pm. I got through Chicago, and called it a night at a sketchy truck stop just outside Valparaiso. I slept in the back seat of my Jeep. The air was muggy, but I kept my windows up for security purposes. I finished the drive to "The Fort" Friday morning.
I had many people to see and very little time to do it in. This would be a quick visit. I had to be back in Rockford for a game Saturday night. I saw a few people, but then I realized I really wanted to see Dave before the main event. I showed up at his house right as his dad finished breakfast. His mother welcomed me in with open arms. Every one was very calm, relaxed, and in good spirits. I hope it's like that on my wedding day. After a couple hours of playing Guitar Hero on xBox, Dave and his groomsmen had work to do. So did I. I had lunch with long-time friend Austin Hill. Two hours at Buffalo Wild Wings was not enough. I expected to feel awkward as I drove through my old stompin grounds, but it surprisingly did not feel that way. Rachel Esther was my date to the wedding. I had finally gotten Rachel to go on a date with me after nine years of trying and after she gotten engaged. Oh well.
The wedding was at the beautiful St. Vincents church. Dave and Lindsey looked amazing. During the whole ceremony I laughed to myself because the whole time I thought "This is Dave, and he's getting married!" I don't think the guy took anything seriously his entire life and here he was getting married- one of the biggest decisions of your life. I knew most of the groomsmen and bridesmaids, which made for a fun reception. After a nice meal and several beers, it was time to dance. In typical Dave Fridley fashion, it was all country music. My kind of music. I taught a few people to line dance. As the night went on, I still had more people to see. Another friend, Leslie Scott-Slayback was in town for our friend Aimee Kien's birthday. They both knew I was in town and both begged me to see them. We met at a bar in downtown Fort Wayne that we grew up hearing about, but I had never been to. Both Leslie and Aimee looked incredible. Even though I hoped not to run into Carroll HS people, I ran into several. Everyone thought I had disappeared. I informed them of my family's relocation to St. Louis. They asked me what I was up to and I told them of my summer in minor league baseball and my upcoming trip to visit the Houston Dynamo of MLS. I enjoyed seeing their eyes get real big when I told them of all the amazing things I had been a part of the past few years at IU. Not bad for the shy, quiet kid in high school that no one took seriously. I told them all I enjoyed seeing them and wished them all the best. The night was not nearly long enough, and over before I knew it. I knew I had a long drive Saturday morning and did not want to push my limits.
I had a hero's welcoming when I returned to Fort Wayne after a three year absense. But I had to realize that that was a rare occasion. Leslie, Aimee, Rachel and Austin were my high school friends. We had some great times together and I miss them dearly. Dave, Matt, and Lindsey were my close friends in college, and we also had some great times together and I will miss them dearly as well. Dave's wedding made me realize one important fact of life: you don't know you've got until its gone.
Best wishes Dave and Lindsey. Best wishes everyone.