It’s taken me a long time to muster up the strength to write this post even though it comes from a happy place. One of my best friends, Caleb, is moving back home this weekend. While we haven’t known each other that long, it feels like forever. I thought I would share my story of going home and how I met Caleb as I wish him well on his new adventures.
I moved back to Birmingham on November 26th, 2010. My brother and I left in the wee hours of the morning that Friday from Virginia, him driving the large U-Haul and me following behind in my car. We parted ways in Alabama about 1 a.m. in the pitch black on I-59; he split off to go home to Clanton (taking the truck with him) and I finished the last few miles into Birmingham, tears streaming down my face as I saw the city lights come into view. They were tears of joy; I was beyond happy to be “home.” I loved living in Virginia and missed the people there more than I could show them, but this was home. This was where my girls and most of my family were.
I hadn’t seen my new home yet in person. My Bham bestie – Lee – had worked with me over the miles to locate, tour, and eventually secure a beautiful townhouse for me in the south side of town. When I arrived to the address in the middle of the night, I was nervous, hopeful, and scared to death since I didn’t know this side of town that well. Needless to say, she’d planned wonderfully for my impending arrival: paper plates, cups, utensils, napkins, munchies, hand soap and hand towels, night lights throughout the house, and – most importantly – toilet paper and a huge bottle of wine (and wine opener) chilling in the fridge. She had thought of everything I could possibly need in the middle of the night after a 14 hour drive. I know I’ve thanked her for her friendship and thoughtfulness since then, but she’ll never really know how much it meant. Or how much I will remember it as a lovely story to tell for years to come.
I got Millie, my dog, settled and went about inflating my air mattress in my new bedroom (as much as I could tell it was the ‘master’ in the middle of the night). I’m sure my new neighbors loved the air blower cranking up at 2 a.m. “Welcome to the ‘hood, Noisy!” I slept as peacefully and as much as I could in an unfamiliar place that I couldn’t see very well, while trains rumbled right outside my window. I rose bright and early Saturday morning to get re-acquainted with my city…in my PJs because I couldn’t find my clothes. My first stop: COFFEE! I tootled down the street and lo and behold, a local coffee shop – Forest Perk Coffee. I was beside myself at my good fortune of having an independent coffee shop so close to home. I grabbed my once-familiar Black & White and (literally) bounded up to the counter to place my order. I was so excited about being home that the young man behind the counter (seriously) asked me if I was on crack. I politely explained that I was not a) on crack b) drunk or c) on medication – I was just very happy to finally be back in Birmingham. He thought I was a nut, made my mocha, and we parted ways. His name was Tim and I knew we’d be fast friends.
As the weeks went by, I would stop at Forest Perk more often and get my medium mocha. I found myself drawn to the quiet, studious barista – Jeremy – and the crazy, talkative one – Tim. The owner, Caleb, was very polite yet we never made it past the obligatory formalities even though I bounded up in there nearly every day. Finally, one day, I was inviting them to some local event and Caleb passed me his phone number on the way out the door. I was thrilled! I was IN! In what? No idea, but I was in! I texted him the moment I got to work and we started our friendship over cell phones that morning. It wasn’t long before we were thick as thieves and going everywhere together – we were both single, both dog lovers, both coffee lovers, and had a million more things in common.
Fast forward two years later to now: We both have very special Birmingham people in our lives, we both have more animals than when we first met, we both have different cars, and we’ve both been through more ups and downs the last few years than I care to recall. But, we’ve also been there for each other more times than I can recall. There’s never been a cross word between us, never a fight. Of course there have been times we’ve driven each other crazy and needed a little time apart/to ourselves, but it always reminded of us how important we are to each other. And how much we miss the other one when they’re not around.
Caleb, you’ve been my best friend and “husband” for the past few years. There aren’t enough words to describe what you mean to me and what a joy it’s been having you in my life – helping me, watching over me, looking after me, and supporting me with your love, words, and Toby’s saliva. I know you will be great wherever you go and whatever you do. As sad as I am today and these past few weeks, a bigger part of me is happy for you…happy that you’re doing what is best for you right now, happy that you’re the son your parents raised you to be, happy that you’re a wonderful father to the boys, and happy that you have been such an intricate part of my life these past few years. I know you’re only 1 phone call and 90 miles away at any time. That goes both ways – I am always here for you. You will never be forgotten, you will always be loved, and you will always be my best friend.
I love you.