Saturday, May 28, 2011

Al Is back in Town

My friend Al is moving back to town this weekend. This means that I'll be seeing him on regular occasions again. He's been gone about four years, off at two different graduate schools in two different states. Somehow, we've managed to keep in touch. It helps that his love of Athens has never subsided and his parents live nearby. Hence, he's been back with some regularity.

Al is a mysterious guy to me--he never seems short of friends or of new acquaintances. I, on the other hand, feel perennially short of them; I find making new friends or feeling comfortable around new people--or even many "old" people--difficult. But Al puts a person at ease.

That I still know Al, after having met him over fifteen years ago, seems in some ways amazing. We went to graduate school together. We were in a writing group together, and on a few occasions did social things together. But I wouldn't have thought of him at the time as my closest pal at grad school. After he moved on, we exchanged letters and more rarely phone calls (this, before the days when e-mail was common, so we're talking real letters). In other words, we stayed in touch. I only stayed in touch with three other grad students, one of whom has since dropped out of my life and two of whom (i.e., a couple) have kept up a very irregular though wonderful acquaintance. With Facebook, LinkedIn, and the like, a lot of other friends from those days have since gotten back in touch, which is great too.

But Al has become something more than a grad school buddy. He's become one of my closest friends.

Recently, Al completed a novel. I haven't read it--not that I don't want to (but I haven't been given a copy). Others have, though, and I've been told I am in it, neuroses and all. One of those neuroses is what inspired me to start doing this blog--my desire to document things in a statistical format. And so, it seems fitting, since Al is moving back to town, to document what interactions I've managed to have with Al since he left. That information, however, would have been very difficult to put together, so I've settled for this much more narrow graphic--the interaction I've had with Al in the past year. So here it is, a map of places I've hung out with Al since last May.

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