This is Uncle Gary. Not really an uncle by blood, but he’s promised to teach the Bean how to do things like open beer bottles with a car key, so we figure that’s close enough to being an actual uncle. When Uncle Gary isn’t sitting on our back deck or hanging out in the Man Cave, he is Gary Fields. Musician and jazz singer. Last night Gary had his first big show in New York at a night club and Chris and I left the Beanie with my parents and headed down to the city to be with our friends to celebrate.
When we were growing up, Chris had a tight group of friends. These were the guys who partied hard together. They were the ones who brought girls over. They were the ones who fought over endless games of pool and darts. They were “Chris’ friends.” Since Chris and I have dated from the time we were 16 and known each other even longer, I’ve grown up with with these guys, too. They’ve been apart of my life for as long as Chris has, really.
The group has changed some over the years. Girlfriends, roommates, college buddies and the like have all been added. And we even lost one of the core boys when he died unexpectedly a couple years ago. I think it was when Robert died that I saw the most drastic change in this group of friends. Chris got the call from Robert’s sister about his very unexpected passing and he told her that he would be the one to call the rest of the group. I remember sitting in our living room, shocked with grief, and listening to Chris make those few phone calls. He started every conversation with, “We’ve lost a brother.”
From then on, the group’s dynamic changed a bit. Suddenly, they weren’t just showing up in the Man Cave or at bars. They started to support each other in more substantial ways. Showing up at college graduations and weddings. They were the first people we heard from when the Bean was born. And I noticed that they were no longer “Chris’ friends,” but “our friends” instead. We became family more than just friends.
Last night, we all came together again to celebrate yet another accomplishment for one of the family. Our friend, Gary Fields, is a jazz singer who is blossoming in the New York area. He had his first big gig in the city at a night club and we all, of course, dressed up and trooped down to Time Square to sit in the audience. I looked around at all of us last night and it reminded me of how far we’ve all come. We used to sit on Chris’ dad’s back porch and make Gary sing for us. And now, here we were in a night club sitting among strangers who wanted Gary to sing for them. I was so stinking proud of him.
It was my first whole night away from the Bean, too. He stayed home with my parents who were ecstatic with the idea of feeding him, bathing him, rocking him, and getting up for those midnight feedings (be my guest…). And I’m happy to report that I did a great job. Sure, I looked at his pictures on Chris’ iPhone about a hundred times. Sure, every conversation I had with anyone started with “The Bean did the cutest thing the other day…” Sure, I kept asking Chris what he thought the Bean was doing. But, I didn’t call home once. Because I was happy to be out celebrating with our friends. It was a great night and – Bean or no Bean – I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.
For more information on Gary Fields and to hear clips of his music, visit his website at www.garyfieldsmusic.com.