Sunday, January 22, 2012

Warm Chocolatey Memories

Curt and BJ
This post is WAY over-due.  In early October, Curt's BFF (best friend forever) - BJ Burns - came to visit us.  It was his first trip to Oregon and we were all giddy with excitement that he was coming.  The only thing that would have made his visit more fun is if his wife and four awesome kids could have come too.

BJ used to be the high school youth pastor at the church we attended in Illinois.  Newly married to Pattie, we could tell even from a distance that the two of them were tons of fun.  We made a point to run into them in the church lobby, say hi, and try to act cool and fun even though we were sleep deprived and schlepping around multiple toddlers and babies.  Apparently our farce worked enough that Curt and BJ started talking a bit.

One winter night after mid-week small groups, we pulled into the driveway and Curt flipped out.  "My Bible!" he cried.  "I left it on the roof of the car."  He quickly retraced his steps while I put crabby babies to bed.  An hour later he came home dejected.  He found Bible "barf" along the side of road by the church - notes from me, sermon notes, and bookmarks - but no Bible.  With a huge snow storm moving in, he was terrified that his well-worn Bible of 15 years would be lost forever.

I took a turn searching - driving slowly down the country roads in the pitch black looking for a black Bible in the middle of the road.  I saw a police man killing time at the nature preserve so I flagged him down and said, "You don't look too busy.  Can I borrow your mega spotlight to search for my husband's Bible?"  He gave me a "you-want-me-to-do-what?" look, but agreed to one pass-through.  We came up empty-handed.

The next morning, with snow dumping inches and hope dead that we'd ever recover Curt's Bible, the doorbell rang.  I opened it to BJ, standing on my front step holding Curt's Bible.  I forgot that we barely knew him and practically tackled him.  The kids and I started jumping up and down, screaming and celebrating.  Poor BJ just stood in the doorway, mystified and slightly scared of us.  Once we stopped shouting, he told us that he was locking up the church the night before.  As he was driving away, he saw Curt's Bible in the parking lot.  Knowing that Curt doesn't go a day without reading it, he rescued it and hand-delivered it that morning.  And with that Bible rescue, Curt and BJ became BFF's.

fire, TV, playoff baseball, kids, friends
BJ and Pattie started having babies - one right after the other like we did.  We realized we lived within a few miles of each other and started having Friday night pizza dinners.  Pattie made the best pizza dough and we'd put the kids to bed early, eat pizza, and laugh.  Then laugh some more.  We joined the same small group at church.  Curt and BJ started meeting at the forest preserve half-way between their jobs to eat lunch together and throw the football around.  (We all made fun of them.)  During playoff baseball, BJ and Curt would drag the TV and antenna from the house into the backyard, build a bonfire, and watch baseball by the fire.  They both idolized the David Crowder Band and twice went to concerts even though neither could really afford the tickets or the midnight Taco Bell run on the way home.  Our kids thought we were their aunts and uncles.  We just did life together.  It was a really special friendship.

making memories running chains
In the winter of 2008, things changed.  BJ took a job in Appleton, Wisconsin.  With great sadness, we packed up our best friends and waved goodbye as they started a new life three hours away.  A few months later we packed up our stuff and with great sadness, waved goodbye to all our friends as we started a new life in Oregon 2,000 miles away.  The fact that BJ and Pattie were already in Appleton eased the pain of leaving Illinois.

In spite of the distance, BJ and Curt have remained BFF's.  They talk on the phone.  They text and email.  When Curt travels to the mid-west, they grab face time together.  When they're together, they act like junior high boys, laughing about potty humor and stalking their favorite band's every move.  They pray together for each other and for their marriages.  Their friendship is unique - one of those once-in-a-lifetime friendships.

Needless to say, it was a BIG deal when BJ came out to visit in early October.  The four days he was here were filled with laughter, laughter, immaturity, and more laughter.  All he wanted was to make it into a blog post and it's embarrassing that it's taken me so long to write this.  Please forgive me BJ?
"warm Chocolatey memories"

While BJ was here, our son Grant had an away football game in a stadium with real turf.  Curt volunteered to run the chains and managed to finagle a spot for BJ to run chains with him.  The two of them joked and screwed around on the football field the entire game, having way too much fun and making everyone smile.  At one point, they hollered up to me, "We're making memories."

Later that night the kids wanted hot chocolate.  We got down the basket of hot chocolate packs and almost fell over when we saw the slogan on the packet.  It said, "Making Warm Chocolatey Memories."  It became the theme for BJ's time at our house and a mantra that got repeated multiple times throughout each day.

We took BJ for a hike in the Columbia River Gorge.  The skies opened the second we stepped out of the car and it poured the entire five miles that we hiked.  It was an all day soaking rain with no sign of letting up and Curt was miserable.  He whined and complained (some of it serious - some of it to get us to laugh).   The few hikers we passed on the trail looked as miserable as we felt so we made it our standard operating procedure for me to say, "Great day for a hike, eh?"  When they wouldn't answer or laugh Curt would deadpan, "It looks like it's going to blow over."  No one thought it was funny except the three of us and we'd die laughing EVERY time.  It never got old.
this was our miserable face

We brought hot chocolate with us in a thermos and drank it in the pouring rain at the top of Larch Mountain.  Our fingers were so numb that we spilled it all over while we took pictures and noted aloud that we were "making warm chocolatey memories."

drinking hot chocolate in the rain
The boys ran the cable line down the side of the house, drug the TV outside, built a bonfire, and watched playoff baseball in the backyard.  They wrestled with the kids.  Watched football and threw the football around in the backyard.  We made Friday night pizza only my dough isn't as good as Pattie's.  It was just like old times.

ready for the big concert
Their favorite band was in town on their final tour.  Of course the boys had tickets to the 9 p.m. show.  They started getting ready right after breakfast, and then left at noon to head downtown.  As they drove, they asked themselves, "If I was David Crowder visiting Portland, where would I spend an afternoon before a concert?"  Curt's guess was (and I quote) - "He'll be at Powell's book store and he'll be in disguise with a hat on to cover his crazy hair."

BJ and his new BFF - David Crowder
They went to Powell's first, walked in the front door, and ran right into David Crowder wearing a hat to disguise his crazy hair.  While BJ got his picture with Crowder, Curt texted me blow-by-blow details.  I texted back, "Don't embarrass yourselves."  They were more excited than 11-year-old girls running into Justin Beiber.
concert vantage point

Curt and BJ stood in line for hours to get front-row "seats" (only it was a standing-room only venue) and BJ texted me pictures of the concert from their up-close vantage point.  They stayed out late and stopped at Taco Bell on the way home.

Across the board, BJ's visit was memory making (warm chocolatey ones) and oh-so-fun.  I only wish I'd written about it sooner.

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