Since my mom started her blog, she has asked me to write periodically for her. I have written for her once, but between work, traveling, and general laziness, I have not written for her as often as I should. So therefore I am making 12 blog posts for BubblesandMoney one of my 2013 New Year’s resolutions. I am writing this as part of a blog because they say that if you tell someone about your resolutions, they will hold you accountable for them. So if you don’t see my post in a given month, let me know, and I will get to writing.
The topics of my blogs will be completely random. I will write about history, sports, travel, books, growing up, Savannah, and much more. If you have a topic you want me to cover, post it in a comment and I will do my best to put some thoughts together. Also, I would love to do a blog post in December made up entirely of questions, so please post your questions in comments throughout the year. Unless it is an urgent request, I will save them for an answer-all at the end of the year.
I am looking forward to sharing sometime with whoever reads these, thank you for taking your time. And now, on to January…
For my January post I am writing this in honor of my friend, Chris Rushing. Chris and I met in the spring of 2002 when he started at Auburn, and we had been friends ever since. We shared many of the same passions, we argued like brothers, and will always be friends. There have been many fitting tributes to Chris since he passed on Christmas day, in both video and written form. I could attempt to write about what Chris meant to me and how he will be missed, but I think the best way to honor Chris is to share memories with you, because Chris and I loved sitting around and reminiscing. These are memories that have come to me since Chris’s passing, some immediate and some only in the quiet moments that I have something I wished I could text him. There are 11 of them; one for each year we were friends. I hope you will enjoy the memories as much as I have.
1. THE WEEKEND: In 2008, after Taylor and I moved to Valdosta, Chris and I took a trip to Florida for Spring Training baseball. On Friday we spent the day at Universal Studios: Island of Adventure, on Saturday we went to Red Sox spring training in Fort Myers, FL, and on Sunday we went to Dodgers Spring Training in Vero Beach, FL. Of all the fun we had on the trip, we started watching “My Big Redneck Wedding” on Saturday afternoon and we could not stop. Our favorite episode included this line from the groom’s vows, “I wish I could put your love in a locket, ‘cause your hotter than a Hot Pocket”. For the next 4 years we texted quotes and pictures from Redneck Wedding to each other. If you catch it on CMT, you will not be disappointed.
2. The Swimming Pool at the Days Inn: One April morning, before the swimming pools opened for Memorial Day, we decided that we wanted to go swimming. The only pool we could think of was at the Days Inn. We asked a very nice lady who was leaving her hotel room if she would cover for us while we swam and she agreed. To say the water was cold would be a massive understatement. Once we were all in the pool, we proceeded to convince Chris to get in the pool. After much teasing, begging, and bargaining, Chris jumped in the pool. What happened next became the stuff of lore amongst our group. After his toe hit the water, Chris walked across the water to the other side of the pool. We cannot explain how he did it, but everyone who was there will swear he walked on water.
3. Auburn: Of the thousands of memories of Chris and me at Auburn, one I always enjoyed was studying for finals at the Auburn Grill on College Street. We would get up the morning of finals and spend our last few minutes eating eggs and bacon studying our various subjects. One time the service was so poor, I took our glasses and walked behind the counter to fill them up. Our waitress then began handing me other glasses to fill. We laughed about that all the time. The Grill closed after we left and became Auburn Art, but I always enjoyed eating there.
4. Baseball: Chris and I loved baseball. One of the memories I will always have of Chris is listening to “Centerfield” by John Fogerty at the start of baseball season, he loved that song. One time on a trip to a Braves game, Chris made a mix CD (I know, pre-iPod) that contained nothing but “Centerfield”. Throughout college Chris and I would drive to Atlanta to see the Braves play or go to Plainsmen Park to watch Auburn play. Our two favorite memories were watching the Braves turn a triple play in a game against San Diego and seeing Javon Moran steal home against Alabama. Chris and I often talked of going to Omaha to see Auburn play. I will go next time they make it in his honor. So many good memories of Chris and I revolve around baseball games.
5. Wendy’s in Cincinnati: When I go on a road trip, I love eating at local restaurants. I do not want to travel to eat at Applebee’s (nothing against Applebee’s if it’s your favorite). Shortly after graduation, Chris and I took a road trip to Cincinnati. We spent the night in Louisville, went to the Louisville Slugger factory and then continued on to see the Reds and the Braves play two games. Throughout the trip, I made Chris eat at all manner of local Louisville and Cincinnati restaurants. Let me preface this by saying, Chris was not a very adventurous eater, AT ALL. He subsisted on Hamburgers, Steak, French Fries, and…that’s about it. On the last day, as we’re walking back to our hotel from the baseball game, we passed by a Wendy’s. Chris looked at me with a panic in his eyes and said, “You have to stop and let me get a Wendy’s hamburger”. So we sat in Wendy’s in downtown Cincinnati so Chris could have a hamburger.
6. Auburn 2004 Football Season: In 2004, Auburn finished 13-0 in football. Robert, Chris, and I went to each game together with a group of friends. My absolute favorite trip was to Knoxville, TN. Auburn steamrolled Tennessee, and Chris and I got to sit together to witness the game. We tailgated before the game, Junior Rosegreen became the only color that mattered (another longer story), and we capped it off at Waffle House and then an all night drive back to Auburn. We pulled into town as the sun rose on Sunday morning. We had many best trips that year, but Tennessee may have been my favorite.
7. Intramural Softball: One of our goals in college was to win an intramural softball championship. The closest we ever came was the semifinals of the playoffs, but that does not mean we did not have fun trying. There was the time Shawn injured Libby, his girlfriend at the time, twice in the same practice. Or when I almost got kicked out of the game because our shortstop, Andy Shores, yelled at the umpire (Chris talked the umpire out of kicking me off). Or the time I hit my only home run ever, Chris and Robert laughed that it was the fastest I have ever run. Although we did not win the championship, we had a fun time trying.
8. 2006 Football Trip: In 2006, Chris and I went to at least one football game in every SEC football stadium. The trip included 16 games in 14 weekends and an estimated 4500 miles driven. As with Auburn’s 2004 football season and Auburn, there are too many memories from the 2006 trip to recount them all, however, two of my favorites are the “Thrash Can” and Hot Brown. On our way to the Georgia vs. South Carolina game in Columbia, SC, we stopped outside of Atlanta for a bathroom and gas break. In the bathroom there was a piece of paper taped to the waste basket labeling it the “Thrash Can”. Given the state of the bathroom, “Thrash Can” became a moniker for anything nasty on the trip. I would still get “Thrash Can” texts from Chris whenever he passed that particular TEXACO. Hot Brown, on the other hand, is a dish in Kentucky that consists of Toast, Sawmill Gravy, Bacon, Turkey, Cheese Sauce and Tomato. When we travelled to Lexington for the football game, I wanted to try Hot Brown. Although it was not the most appetizing thing I have ever eaten, Chris and I always had a good time joking about Hot Brown.
9. Flag Football at the SEC Championship Game: Every year at Fanfare for the SEC Championship Game, Regions Bank erects a 25-yard football field for games of flag football. In both 2004 and 2010, Chris and I attempted to win one of these games and were thwarted both times by sub-par teammates. Chris retired from SEC Championship Flag Football after our defeat in 2010, although I enjoy looking at the picture from 2004.
10. The Big Bang Theory: Chris and I started watching How I Met Your Mother together when the show started. The writers for the show lost their way in the middle and I fell away from the show, but Chris and I always enjoyed the Big Bang Theory. We would text lines from episodes and share funny moments on phone calls.
11. Spades with Robert and Jennifer: The only time I have ever seen Robert angry! Chris and I were partners in a game of spades against Robert and Jennifer. Chris and I table-talked our way to a fairly substantial lead in the game. In order to catch up, Robert decided to go Nil (intentionally taking no tricks in return for a large number of points). On the first play of the hand, Jennifer played the 2 of clubs. Chris and I quickly followed with the 3 and 4 of clubs, leaving Robert no choice but to play his King of clubs. On the next card, Jennifer played the Ace of clubs. Chris and I would still tell the story just to see the steam from Robert’s ears.
In closing, I leave you with two thoughts; one for me and one for Chris. The movie “Shawshank Redemption” is one of my favorite movies, I highly recommend the TBS version of the movie (the rented version has some rough parts). The movie follows Andy Duframe as he is falsely convicted of murder, sentenced to life in prison, negotiates the prison environment in Shawshank, and finally escapes to Mexico. My favorite scene of the movie occurs at the end, after Andy has escaped, as his best friend Red reminiscences. During the scene, Red says…
Those of us who knew him best talk about him often. I swear, the stuff he pulled... Sometimes it makes me sad, though, Andy being gone. I have to remind myself that some birds aren't meant to be caged. Their feathers are just too bright and when they fly away, the part of you that knows it was a sin to lock them up does rejoice, but still, the place you live in is that much more drab and empty that they're gone. I guess I just miss my friend.
That is how I feel, I just miss my friend.
Finally, this quote comes from the funeral oratory of Dr. Andrew Gifford, delivered by Rev. John Ryland, however, it stands true for Chris.
Farewell, thou dear old man! We leave thee in possession of death till the resurrection day: but we will bear witness against thee, oh king of terrors, at the mouth of this dungeon; thou shalt not always have possession of this dead body; it shall be demanded of thee by the great Conqueror, and at that moment thou shalt resign thy prisoner. Oh ye ministers of Christ, ye people of God, ye surrounding spectators, prepare, prepare to meet this old servant of Christ, at that day, at that hour, when this whole place shall be all nothing, but life and death shall be swallowed up in victory.