Old friends can be tricky business. Just because they are old friends doesn't mean they continue to be good friends. In the amount of time it takes to become old friends, a lot of big moments in life occur, changing that old friend away from the person you remember to the person they are.
This conundrum was put to the test this past weekend when I drove west on I-94 to go to a Minnesota Vikings game with three old friends.
I knew this season could go off the rails for my favorite team, and it is the last year in the Metrodome before it is torn down to make way for a new stadium. I decided to round up some old friends that live in the Twin Cities to recapture some of those good old days.
There was a former coworker who moved to Minneapolis to get a fresh start after having troubles in his personal life. There was my old college buddy who has his life back on track after hitting rock bottom at a hotel outside of Reno a few years back. Then there is my old friend from back home. We go way back. He’s clinging to what he feels is an alternative lifestyle, all the while slipping towards the same mundane life the rest of us live.
Then of course there is me. I’m getting along in life without much reason to complain, of course that doesn't mean I don’t complain.
The friend from back home and I experienced some night life on the Saturday before the Vikings were to take on the Browns. We all met up outside the gate for some tailgating before heading into the game. Some quick thinking from the college buddy got us to the front of the bottlenecked line and we were in the game just after kick-off.
The game had everything: a fake punt, a fake field goal, a blown call by the refs, not to forget the $40 worth of brats I bought the guys. It was a game the Vikings fans expected to win, but here they were clinging to a three-point lead with a minute left. To no Vikings fan’s surprise the Browns would score the go-ahead touchdown with under a minute left. Then with five seconds left, Jerome Simpson let the ball fall through his fingers in what would have been a season saving touchdown catch and a defining moment for the quarterback.
The game wasn't the only loss I witnessed that day. I also watched the demise of a decades-old friendship and that hurts worse than any loss to the Browns. With hearts broken we left the Metrodome for the last time. The former coworker had to go to his current job lamenting the fact that he probably wasn't going to be able to sleep that night thinking about the game. The old college buddy had to leave right away too, seemingly taking the loss in stride as another in the long line of Viking heartbreaks.
That just left my buddy from back home and I. We went to a place he knows well and sat down at the bar. I won't go into detail, but I think I lost a friend that day. Maybe this is how things go. Our relationship that started on the playground all those years ago has run its course. It’s just another casualty that life leaves on the side of the road. Neither of us seemed to realize the person the other had become. Not seeing each other enough over the recent years left both of us expecting someone else to be there that day and not liking the person that showed up.
I came to Minneapolis looking to reconnect with old buddies and watch Adrian Peterson run the football. Instead I saw my favorite team blow another one and a lifelong connection be broken. I can’t help but wonder if Sunday would have ended differently if Jerome Simpson would have just caught that darn ball.
My next game will be back on the road to the Fargodome to watch the repeat FCS National Champion Bison and see another old friend whose life has changed quite a bit in the last year.