Today is my friend Tom’s birthday. It’s also a Sunday and it’s also a day where I just want him to have a enjoy himself. This one, like other birthday posts, is about him, how we met, and what we have become.
I met Tom through my friend, Jason, when I was starting out at Phoenix College in 1988. It’s very possible and highly likely we were in the same places at the same time before that because we have a lot in common when it comes to musical interests. In high school, though, he went to Central, and I went to Deer Valley and Camelback.
Jason and I had a class together, I think, or just hung out at the punk/alternative corner by the library and eventually gravitated to each other. Not long after we established ourselves as friends, he introduced me to Tom and we began hanging out at the corner between classes, too.
My first impression was that he was very intense. He seemed like he was very serious and very motivated, which I was not, but we also had another thing in common. We were both singers in a band and at some point, in the spring of 1989, we played a show together at Time Out of Mind.
Tom could really sing, though, and I was just doing the punk rock thing and trying to figure out what my own voice sounded like. Either way, I liked him from the start and appreciated his incredible generosity. When we were first really getting to know each other, he decided that he didn’t want a bunch of great posters he had and gifted me a bunch for the walls of my studio apartment near campus.
We lost touch over time, though, and we didn’t come back into each other’s orbit until the last decade thanks to a connection he had with my Father Figures bandmate, Bobby. What a blessing that has been for me, the family, and for our friendship. I think I’ve written a lot on the value I hold for friendship. It’s near and dear to me.
Over the past several years, Tom, his wife, Renee, and their son, Quentin, have become part of my family, too. They are our neighbors now and it’s been such a great thing. As I have mentioned, we walk in the mornings, and it is a tremendous way to start the day. We always have something to talk about.
One of the coolest parts of how my friendship with Tom has blossomed is that it is the type of relationship that I used to teach kids about when I talked about what a healthy relationship is. I have gone over this, but (quick reminder) there are those key components, whether it is a friendship, romantic relationship, family thing, or working relationship.
Tom’s one the most respectful people I have ever met. He listens and cares deeply, but also seeks to understand what is happening with the people he cares about. Because of this, our conversations are easy, and we can talk about anything. I go to him for advice and appreciate when he seeks my counsel. It is so refreshing to have a friend who takes what I say to heart and actually thinks about it in the interim and often asks follow up questions or shares his thoughts about something we’ve talked about days or weeks later.
When you can talk to someone, even about the hard stuff, you build trust. I appreciate this part maybe the most. I’ve been very fortunate to have a great core of dudes around me and having a friend like Tom just makes it even better. When I’ve introduced him to some of my other core dudes, they see it pretty quickly, too.
You’re a keeper, birthday boy.
We have a lot of fun, as well. Not all our conversations are serious, and we can get going pretty good on our walks. We also spend a good amount of time together on weekends and such and we look forward to hosting the whole family in Maine next summer. No matter how long we get with them up there, I know it won’t be enough.
Rhondi and Renee have become very close, too, which is awesome. Such a gift for us all, really. I marvel at Tom and Renee’s relationship and enjoy so much watching them just be themselves. The comfort they exude with each other is a wonderful example of what marriage should be. They aren’t perfect nor do they claim to be, but they love each other and have shown me so much about how to be a better husband.
A better husband and dad, really. Tom is amazing with Quentin and Quentin is amazing in his own right. I love that kid. I know I have mentioned him before here, too, and because of the kind of mom and dad Renee and Tom are, Quentin is smart, intuitive, creative, and hilarious. When he joins us on our walks, it’s just that much better.
Tom has introduced me to other friends, too, and it’s awesome to see that his orbit is just filled with interesting and cool people. This says a lot about the kind of dude he is. I’m sure there are a few people out there that don’t like him, but I’ve never met one.
As the future unfolds, Tom and I will create a few things together. We have a greeting card company that needs to happen. It’s really a company that will create all kinds of very necessary products. We are going to buy a bar (just wait and see) and also do a restaurant (fuckin’ guy is a great cook … he and Rhondi could keep people coming in for food all day long) in Maine so that we can have a winter business here and a summer business there.
We’re also going to do a couple musical projects, too, including a Damned cover band that will take shape in the coming year. Exciting stuff is on the horizon, but nothing more exciting than a beautiful friendship. I am lucky.
Happy birthday, my man. I love you.
See you tomorrow.
Don't kill me. It was Rhondi's idea.