On the course: The missing links
The warm northeast Iowa sun was inching below the horizon, coating the surrounding bluffs in soft shades of pink and orange. Left to ourselves, we stood around the tee box of the eighth hole smoking cigars, slurping down cheap light beers and taking in the view. Nothing needed to be said. Nearly four years removed from our time together in college, the five of us were finally back in tiny Decorah, enjoying a round of nine, undoubtedly getting a little bit nostalgic. It was one of those guy moments. Instead of vocalizing the wash of feelings running through each of us, we were content to just stand there enjoying each other’s company.Then Miah topped the ball on his drive. The tiny white sphere dribbled barely 40 yards down the fairway before coming to a stop in the middle of a patch of fallen leaves.”Were you thinking of me naked in the shower just then?” Jumbo asked, laughing, before taking a pull off his stogie.As much as things change, they stay the same.Brian, the competitive one, had the idea for the homecoming weekend trip, and the round of golf (which, plus the three carts, only cost $26). It’d been too long, he said. The boys needed to get back together. I tried to convince him otherwise, but to no avail. Miah even bought my plane ticket after I blew all my savings at my brother’s bachelor party in Vegas.Heck, Jumbo was taking off work and flying out from North Carolina, Brian said. A.J. got someone to watch his two boys for two days. And, he and Miah were both taking off work as well. No wasn’t an acceptable answer.Back in Decorah – a place I’d once sworn I’d never return to – I acknowledged my friend’s wisdom. We were now all at different places in our lives, but, at our core, we were still the same five crazy guys who once lived in two cramped rooms on the same floor. Guys who formed unbreakable bonds while playing Division III football, drinking bad beer, chasing girls, arguing politics, debating philosophy, playing coed nude soccer on the quad and taking hilarious road trips to points unknown. On that golf course, time rewound itself for about two hours. Miah, A.J. and I teamed up against Brian and Jumbo, who each characteristically started talking trash after taking a two-hole lead. It didn’t last long. On the ninth hole, after A.J. sank a putt to seal the win, Brian stalked off to recount the scorecard.In the meantime, we finished our open beers and snuffed out our cigars and just laughed. And when Brian came back, I patted him on the back, letting him know how thankful I was to have him as a friend, and for convincing me to come.Brian, there’s always next year.
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