Every once in awhile I think back to my first semester of college. I was a "Non-Traditional" student, meaning I started at like 22-23 instead of straight out of high school. Maybe I was 24. I don't know, and it doesn't really matter because the point is I was older than 99 percent of the other incoming freshmen.
Anyway, being the "Old Guy" had its advantages and disadvantages. Yeah, most of the frat boys left me alone, but that was only because most every body left me alone.
I was a bit of an outsider.
I mean really, what college kid wanted to hang out with a guy in his mid twenties that didn't live on campus because he owned his own house?
Well, to make a boring story shorter, I only made one friend that first semester, Francis. He was a city kid. He was a young, scrawny, goofy inner city kid, and he just happened to like hanging out with old country bumpkins, which is how he referred to me most of the time.
What I found really neat about Francis is that despite how goofy he came across he was a really intelligent guy, and wanted to know about everything. It wasn't like he was nosy. He was just curious about how the world worked, and how different machines worked.
If he ran across something he didn't understand he'd have to figure it out or he wouldn't sleep for weeks he said.
Anyway, towards the end of that semester Francis asked me a question.
"I think I want to ask my girlfriend to marry me. What do you think?"
I replied, "Do you love her?"
"Yes, of Course!" he said.
I asked, "Can you picture your life without her?"
He thought for a moment, and then he said, "No, I can't, and I wouldn't want to." So, I told him that if that was the case he should ask her.
Then he dropped a bomb on me.
He was being sent over to the "Sandbox!" Francis was in the Marines, and he was worried that his girlfriend would want to get married before he left, but he wanted to wait until he got back. I told him I couldn't help him with that, but I wished him well.
Soon after that it was the end of the semester, and time for Francis and I to exchange e-mails. I gave him a bear hug and told him to keep safe. He told me not to worry. He was a marine, and that meant invincible. Then he said that he would write to check up on me and to keep an eye on me every once in awhile.
We laughed, hugged once again, and parted ways.
He kept his promise and did write me...once.
It was a few months later.
He wrote to tell me that his crazy girlfriend is now his crazy wife, and that it was hot where he was and loud. He promised to write me again and said that he would look me up, so I could buy him a beer.
He wanted me to buy him his first legal drink. I was touched, and couldn't wait to.
That was the last I had heard from my friend.
But, I remember him very well.