Monday, July 5, 2010

Old Friends, New Family

Almost exactly ten years ago I wrote a letter to Georgetown University. I had recently been accepted to the School of Foreign Service, and in a matter of months I would be packing up my life and heading east to Washington D.C. for the next chapter of my life. Instead of just counting my blessings, I decided to go for the gusto, hoping to turn the proverbial inch into a yard. You see, I was an aspiring DJ, spending hours every day/night in intimate sessions with my record collection, honing my craft… a true room-rocker. My biggest fear about going to college was that my dorm room would not be big enough to accommodate my DJ equipment and vinyl collection. So I wrote a letter to the University, passionately detailing my status as a “special needs” student (i.e., my acute musical dependency), and requested any accommodation that might help me cope with the adjustment. In other words, “Hook a brotha up with as big a room as possible.” To ice the cake, I enclosed a copy of “Once Upon A Rhyme” by The Grouch with my letter, and hoped for the best.

When I arrived on campus that August, I found my room in the Village C East Building—it was the BIG one with its own handicapped-style bathroom, and a wide study desk, perfect for my equipment. Immediately, I began unpacking my stuff in the proper order—turntables, mixer, headphones then records. That way I could listen to music while I started unpacking my clothes (which I don’t think I finished doing until second semester).

After a few minutes with the music bumpin, a curly-headed young man crept into my room and starting fishing through my records. No “hi,” no “hello, how are you,” no “nice music, can I check it out?” He just went straight for the vinyl, as if it were public property, donated for the good of the entire incoming student body. I knew right away that we would be friends. Eli Jelly-Schapiro, of Montpelier, VT, turned out to be my next-door neighbor, and for the next year and a half we would be partners in crime: intramural basketball teammates… co-hosts of our on-campus radio show… intellectual sparring partners… roommates sophomore year.

When I left Georgetown Jelly was none-too-pleased with my decision, but we stayed in contact. He wrote some of the first articles for, and I came back to visit D.C. every year until my old classmates graduated. Sadly, we eventually lost touch—no working emails or phone numbers for each other… truly, one of the only close friends that I have ever lost touch with, as many of you out there can verify. So, why on earth am I writing about this now? Take a guess…

On Tuesday, after perusing a few bookstores in Melville, I popped inside an Internet café to see if they could print some business cards for me. It was a long shot, but I had time to kill so I gave it a try. As I expected, they couldn’t help me, so I was headed for the door when I heard someone call my name. It was Jelly, posted in the corner of the café on his laptop! Who woulda thunk it!? So once again, the world proves itself to be a ridiculously small (and wonderful) place. Later that night we were catching up over dinner at the Melville Cafe. The next night I cooked him dinner, and yes, we've both come a long way since the days of of sneaking my Goerge Foreman Grill into the freshman dorms (note: open all windows, place towel under door, and bribe the RA with a piece of steak if it comes down to that).

Oh, yeah, a lot of other things happened this week. I got to work with the Witz. F.C. U13 SAFA team.

I found another bookstore with common sense (Books Galore, Mellville).

I observed the 1Goal educational soccer program for local kids, sponsored by the Qatar Football Association.

I played in a friendly match with the University of Johannesburg Men’s team against a group of random German guys.

And as always, I did a whole lot of reading. I haven’t shared my reading list for this trip yet, so here goes:

Uncle Tom’s Cabin - by Harriet Beecher Stowe (1852)
Three Cups of Tea - by Greg Mortenson & David Oliver Relin (2006)
Wuthering Heights - by Emily Brontë (1847)
How Can Man Die Better: The Life of Robert Sobukwe - by Benjamin Pogrund (2006)
Beauty and the Beast - by Jeanne-Marie Le Prince de Beaumont (1756)
The Prince (De Principatibus) - by Niccolo Machiavelli (1832)
The Last King of Scotland - by Giles Foden (1998)
The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin - by Benjamin Franklin (1791)

And last but not least… I became an Uncle!!! Congratulations to Jaime and Bari, and welcome to the family, Gabriel Sudduth Williams… all 8lbs. 11oz and 22 inches of you!

See you soon little buddy,
Uncle Drew

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