What does one do in a life without close friends? I am fortunate to say I honestly don't know. But that thought this morning made me so appreciative of my own friends. This group of people below, in our annual wine tasting trip up North, has such an interesting friendship dynamic. On one hand we all have our careers that we are focused on, but when you put us into a room, all business talk goes out the window. Then, it's anything but. How many mornings have we gathered around Zac and Mar's brunch table or sat on top of his building, sipping wine, overlooking downtown GR's sunset? How many projects have we gotten behind as a group, out of true support, both in friendship and business? How many evenings have we huddled around small tables at The Meanwhile? Goodness, who knows. But all in all, it doesn't really matter, because it's good.
I feel strange posting this, only because each of these people will be embarrassed by it, but that makes me want to post it even more. But seriously, I couldn't be prouder of this group of friends. Each of these people have been a part of my life in such an intricate way over the past five years. I can't count the number of evenings we've spent together shootin' the shit. I love each of them so dearly and, honestly, would do anything for each of them.
This post was brought on this morning, when I saw Carson's post about his recent interview with Issue Magazine and, again, was blown away at his recent success after spending a month in LA as a visiting artist. I simply love this work. It's the perfect combination between creating new art inside big box stores, essentially stealing, but not really stealing, while allowing the art to be purchased at the price of a picture frame. But that day in Grand Rapids, at Mass_1, this group of friends was there to support him. But at the same time, I also know this group of friends have hit rough times as well, times when jobs were on the line, contracts were in the air, and relationships were in stress. Every time, this group has gathered around and provided each other with support. Every. Single. Time. I don't even know how to describe that type of friendship.
Here's an embarrassing once over, left to right:
Marissa Boswell - Mar is married to Zac. She is one of the dearest friends I know here in Grand Rapids. The other night we started assigning Enneagram numbers to our friends and laughed as we analyzed them one by one. She works at Blacklamb, one of the most successful local shops in Grands Rapids. She has been extremely influential in the development of that store. I remember, in my sadder days, going for walks, not knowing my direction, but knowing eventually I'd end up at Blacklamb to see her and give her a hug. If there is ever a last minute gift, (or replacing my lost Apolis pocket square) she's my go-to.
Carson Brown - One of the sweetest, soft spoken guys on the planet, Carson's artwork is blowing up. A longtime attender of CabinTime, Carson is now releasing his newest show, Mass. Recently, we decided to share a space together where he could store his artwork. I was reminded of how different we are when he brings in 6x4 foot framed photos in one room and I'm just sitting at my tiny little green desk in front of my computer. Either way, I love his work and his star is definitely on the rise.
Jill DeVries- Grand Rapids doesn't truly appreciate Jill. They have no idea because her summer's are filled with travel as she circles the globe as one of the most incredible wedding photographers in existence. And I'm not just being nice. She truly is. I have a distinct memory of being secretly amazed when I saw her walk into my 30th birthday party. One of the sweetest girls I know, Jill would drop anything for her friends. A Karaoke all-star, she's my favorite party girl.
Ben Gott - Ben. Goodness. Ben is the creator of Boxed Water, a contributor to Start Garden, and recently released his newest line at Benjaminedgar.com. I posted about it here. Ben and I have a unique friendship. We met way back in the day at Bar Divani in downtown GR. Such an amazing complexity of deep openness matched by public secrecy. Plus, as far as I know, he's my only friend whose gotten into a heated debate with Kanye about the true meaning of style.
Kate Lawrence - Kate is my doe-eyed friend who captures the attention of any room she walks into. As a writer for Auxillary Advertising, she is an influential part of some of the region's biggest advertising campaigns. She is marrying Caton this coming fall which will no doubt be a highlight of this year. One of my favorite memories of her is late-night "Cuddle Kate", as she nuzzles up with friends after a few drinks and her eternal dedication to Marian for anything Lori and I could ever need.
Caton Vance - Caton and I met on a park bench several years ago. We each had a history of struggles we were in the middle of working out. This guy is such a unique blend of passionate down-to-earth business and a dear friend who'd do anything to help. He recently made a massive life switch, changing jobs to become a creative producer for Gorilla Pictures. I've already had a chance to work with him on a few projects and it's incredible to see him bloom in this well-deserved new job. There are bright things in this guy's future.
Zac Boswell - Zac is a complex friend. He simultaneously loves and hates everything. Favorite topics to get under his skin about are brunch, the enneagram, soccer, and food. Proudly describing himself as the best #2 guy, he serves as the Art Director and Creative Manager at Auxillary Advertising. He's fluent in Japanese, and has been influential in supporting the growth of a new semi-pro soccer team in Grand Rapids. He is, as he says, an expert generalist and I admit there is literally no better way to describe him. There are friends who are great to hangout with at a bar. And there are friends I feel safe to cry with. Zac is the rare combination of a man who serves both well.
Next guy's a hack.
Cameron Boswell - Cam, Zac's younger brother, also grew up in Japan. Speaking fluent Japanese, he lives in Chicago. He just graduated from college after spending some time here in GR where we met. He and his brother are the amazing chefs of our group. Who knows how many times we've all gathered around their table. Cam has one of the funniest senses of humor I can imagine. I've seen him "go serious", where even I can't tell if he's joking or not, followed up by his silly childlike laughter, which causes everyone around him to laugh as well. I remember Cam walking me home after a late night at a bar together. I was completely fine, but he simply insisted. Can't argue with a few more minutes of his time. He's a lover of life and I've always been impressed with the intensity of whatever he's caring about at that moment.
Two years ago, on one of our trips, we were gathered around each other at a winery up North. I was in a tough place. I had just learned that I'd gotten Lori pregnant. But I knew this was the first group of people I wanted to tell. So at winery number four or five, I was lubed up enough to spill the beans. I lifted my glass, and they followed in confusion. I told them that Lori and I were going to have a child. I can't explain that next moment. It was filled with love and laughter and smiles and tears. There is no better way to be treated in a instance like that. And, if I remember correctly, our bartender made a joke congratulating my Michael Phelps swimmers. I tipped him well.
I realize to the majority of you, this post will be somewhat meaningless. But to me, it means everything. To my friends, with whom I share the best and the worst, I love you all.