I spent the weekend in Rochester at Chez Kluth, a homey manse a few blocks from downtown. I met Jim when we were freshmen at St. Olaf College 14, gasp, years ago. We knew each other as freshmen but really became friends as sophomores when we became prayer partners through Dan and Kari's IV small group, I believe. During the second semester Dan and I hosted a Tuesday night prayer meeting in our room in Melby. Jim was one of the regulars at that meeting along with Elizabeth K. One Tuesday Jim decided he needed to blow his nose. He politely excused himself from the prayer meeting and went next door to the bathroom. A few seconds after he left we heard a resounding honk through the wall. Our junior year Jim and I shared a room in a Manitou God Pod. We had a lot of fun with the answering machine and wasted a lot of hours on a homemade (not by us) foosball table. Our senior year we occupied the two single rooms in another Manitou God Pod. That year Jim met a young woman named Tara over email. She came and visited us and he went and visited her. They decided they weren't really interested in dating one another but stayed friends. A few years later they changed their minds, about dating, not friendship, and got married. They had three awesome kids. Evan, a.k.a. Little Peanut, Aidan, a.k.a. Tater, and Tobias, a.k.a Toby or Tobs. As he's the oldest by about three years I have the most history with the peanut. He's the one who called from the upstairs window to inform his daddy that he'd just had a poop disaster but that it was okay, he'd clean it up. Jim hurried inside. Evan also is the one who most often seems to get the duty of waking the Everett when I visit. Once he came to wake me up on a Sunday morning. He said very sweetly, "It's time to get up." When there was no response he tried again. With still no response he said to his daddy, "He won't get up." Jim advised him to try again. At that point I rolled over suddenly and grabbed him. I also once astounded Evan when he and I went down to the basement to get something for Tara. One of the steps completely collapsed under my weight. One of the nails was sheered clean in two. Evan was most impressed and mentioned it the next couple of times I visited, each visit about a year apart. He didn't mention it this visit though he remains fascinated by my size and weight since I'm much bigger than his daddy. He's also, or was, an avid little artist. When I was up last October, since it was near Evan and Aidan's birthdays I brought them gifts. I brought Evan a sketch pad. I brought Aidan a firehouse set that included a little elephant fireman that may be the source of a new nickname.
I traveled up this weekend because today is Jim's birthday. If you're wondering why all the fireworks and to do on the fourth there's your answer. Some people might say it has to do with the founding of the country, declarations of independence, revolutions, and whatnot but they're probably just confused. Jim gets older today and for another three months and four days he and I will be the same age until I retake the lead.