I am selfless, I am selfless, off to work I go…
My good buddy, Tod, boarded a plane Monday morning. Normally it’s not a big deal to hop on a plane and go somewhere. However this time my friend is on his way to the Dominican Republic for a two year stint in the Peace Corps. This is where I will begin to tell you how extremely proud of him I am.
It was 1991 and I was in my first college class, CFR 101, Introduction to Forestry. My class met at 8:30am on the other side of our sprawling college campus five days a week. I struggled to get there on time most days, shocking. What I rememeber most though was this one tall dude who came in every day wearing a trenchcoat. Sure it rains often in Seattle, but not many people wear trenchcoats* here, they’re too damn bulky and really don’t repel the precipitation. Turns out this guy from Colorado was like some genius when it came to presidential trivia as he raised his hand and correctly answered some very obscure question about a 20th century U.S. President. Who knew.
I later learned this guy was rooming with one of my high school buddies in the dorms. He was a friend of a friend of sorts. We got to know each other well during the first quarter of college. That first quarter of college was hard on me as I lost a sibling just before finals week started. Tod, along with other college friends, had my back thankfully and helped see me through a most difficult time. Shortly after my family tragedy, Tod confided in me with a very personal family secret. Trust was built and a lifetime friendship was established.
Tod and I had become fast friends. The following year I asked him and a couple other guys living in the university dorms if they wanted to move off campus into my cool apartment. He said yes and for the next three consecutive years, Tod and I shared a residence. We made great roommates and had much to talk about in the wee hours. Unlike me, Tod was able to graduate from college in four years. Following college he worked an assortment of odd jobs on land and at sea. Tod took trips to Mexico, sailed to Alaska, propped up tents, waited tables, but somehow always made his way back to Seattle.
In 2001 I asked Tod to be my best man at my wedding. He obliged by saying really sweet things about me and my wife before we exchanged our vows in Maui. In 2004 Tod mentioned to me his desire to do an Ironman. I sort of took a step back and winced. In his own head, Tod knows he’s not the most athletic person on the planet. Perhaps that’s what made me love his ambition even more. So three weeks later we both did our first triathlon together.
Amazingly a year later Tod convinces me to take a trip five hours north of the border to witness Ironman Canada. I was on the fence about signing up for the 2006 event, however I caved as a result of Tod’s pressure. This meant from September of 2005 to August of 2006, Tod and I chatted almost every day and spent lots of time together training. Sure we got on each other’s nerves, but it was a sibling thing and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. The twelve months of bike training rides, swims, and runs was nothing short of magical. Even when I nearly passed out 6 weeks before the Ironman as we practiced the actual Ironman bike course, Tod was patient with me and encouraged me to continue. It also didn’t hurt that yours truly downed roughly 4 bottles of Gatorade, 2 Snickers bars, and a bottled Starbucks Frappucino.
August 27th, 2006 is a day that will live in infamy. It’s the historic day we both finished Ironman Canada. Our goal was met. After the Ironman, I laid low for awhile and basked in the glory. This wasn’t good enough for Tod though. He ran another marathon only three months after completing the Ironman. Most importantly, he completed his Peace Corps application and was promptly accepted. I was honored to be his personal reference on the application and have been so happy I happened to befriend the trenchcoated man.
Tod visited us on Sunday as we said our last goodbyes for a couple years. Our buddy, Téo, will definitely be missed. Onward my friend and best of luck in your two years improving humanity in the Dominican Republic. You will be missed, but definitely not forgotten. Your good deeds are noticed!
*NOTE: this trenchcoat gave birth to the Monkey Boy character during our college prank days.