Dinner last night at a Thai restaurant with Christian and Petra, our German friends. Normally we would hold off on dinner and do the New Yorker Deli on Friday evening, but they're now temporarily billeted in the Officers' Quarters on NAS.
The bad news is there's no kitchen.
The good news is there are no dishes.
So, we ended up talking triathlon and training over dinner, trading notes and looking forward to future events. For them it's Ironman Germany in Frankfurt. For me, it's probably going to be either a sprint triathlon or a couple of long races in the autumn. It depends on the work schedule and how busy we are at Chez' Bowen.
Since they're doing IM.de, we'll be able to keep track of them courtesy of IronmanLive. Christian comes back to finish his tour, then goes back to .de. I have the sneaking suspicion they'll remain close (enough) to us in the coming years. I certainly hope so, for a number of good reasons. A life always benefits from diversity:
The more closely your companions and confidants resemble you, the less likely you are to stretch your horizons or consider differing viewpoints. Without the encouragement (or would that be a dare?) of Christian and Petra, I never would have considered doing a half-iron distance triathlon. No, I would not have run the numbers and considered a half-iron triathlon (or a full Ironman triathlon, for that matter!) as an achievable goal.
Christian and Petra also saved me from tuning in to the BBC to get a diverse take on the news; we could always ask what Deutsche Welle, ARD, ZDF, or BRW were saying about American policies and politics. We were able to clue them in on some of the incomprehensibilities of the American political system, usually with much eye-rolling and humor.
Race, religion, culture, sports icons..."third-rail" topics were always fair game, because we knew we could speak in honesty, truth and candor to each other. And for that we have been grateful these past couple of years.
I hate goodbyes. I do poorly with them. Doesn't matter how much you promise to drop an e-mail to each other monthly, or pick up the cell phone (especially if they're on your network!) to stay in touch, it seems small orbits become large ones; large ones become like the orbit of comets that show once every 75 years. Of course, there's Web 2.0 and Skype and all those other things, but it isn't the same as killing three (four? five? I don't recall...) mini-kegs of Heineken on a Saturday, then going out into the front yard to watch the International Space Station whiz by.
Some people bring joy by their arrival, others by their departure. As for Christian and Petra, it's been a joy to be in their presence. Every time I see a triathlete walking a flat-tired bike on a training run I hear the "don't ever go out on a training ride, no matter how short, without a flat kit" lecture.
We will see you soon, my friends. Until then, I'll do my best to hold the tears.