Back in the early 1980's (and yes, I realize some of you reading this may not have been born yet), my family lived on a farm in Imperial, Nebraska. I realize you don't know where that is. Unless you're from the area or got lost on your way to Denver, you've probably never heard of it. Most people from Nebraska don't know where it is - which isn't all that surprising - with a population skyrocketing over the last few years to 1,982, it's lucky to make it on some maps.
That's Casey on the left and me on the right. Kidding. Our hair was never that cool.Anyway, back in the day, I went to Chase County Grade School, just like the other 30 or so kids in my class. My best friend in those early days was a dark-haired kid named Casey. For a long while, we were pretty much inseparable. We could have told you the strengths and weaknesses of pretty much every Transformer on the market, had some epic battles with our Star Wars vehicles, and would likely be found in front of the TV whenever the M.A.S.K. cartoon came on after school.
Since I lived on the farm and Casey was in town, he'd come out to ride go-karts, and I'd go in to ride our bikes around the streets of Imperial (which by the way, actually had a stop light; right in front of the grade school).
Ahh, the good old days. For some inappropriate Transformers humor, click here.Alas, nothing lasts forever. In 1989, due to some interesting circumstances, our family made a relatively sudden move to Missouri. Years passed, and life moved on. Casey and I inevitably lost touch - good memories becoming spotty, then distant and finally forgotten. Once in a while, our family would make it back to Imperial to visit Grandma and see family, but those occasions were few and far between. Once or twice Casey and I had the luck to cross paths, but those times were rare at best.
The last time I saw Casey was in the summer of 1996. I had just finished my first year of college, and my folks and I were in town for some occasion or another. On a whim, I tried calling Casey's house on the off chance he might be around for the summer as well. As fate would have it, he was also in town, visiting his parents and sister, Vanessa who had just finished her senior year of High school. Casey came over and we had a drink on my grandmother's back porch, catching up and reminiscing about the good old days, which at that point weren't nearly so old. As we parted ways that afternoon, I'm pretty sure neither of us thought it would be nearly 11 years until we spoke again. And, certainly, not in the manner in which it unfolded.
If you recognize this logo, you are a true 80's boy. In February of 2007 I found myself on top of a mountain overlooking Quito, Ecuador. Some of you may remember this story from an earlier posting. I overheard some English - American English, and proceeded to talk to them for a minute. Strangely enough, they happened to be from Omaha, Nebraska. Weird. I of course mentioned I too bleed Husker red and to my surprise, they had actually heard of Imperial. They remembered it because one of their friends was from there - a gal named Vanessa. Umm, say that again? Indeed, these people I just met in Ecuador knew Casey's sister. I'm not sure what the odds of that are, but I wouldn't want to calculate them.
We traded information, and I pleaded with them to get in touch with Vanessa and send me Casey's contact details. To make a long story short, these kind people were as good as their word, and about a week later, I had Casey's email address. I fired him a note to see what he was up to, and to relay this crazy story. He replied the next day, telling me he was now living in China! Holy Crap! I told him of my little plan, and how I might be passing through China in the fall. We traded emails over the next few months; me from Africa or Europe, he from Asia or North America. We discussed dates and details, trying to figure out how we might be able to connect. He and his girlfriend were busy jetting between China and the US, I was figuring out how to get through Eastern Europe.
Even best laid plans... As it turns out, due to a variety of happenings, I ended up arriving in Beijing before Casey did. Fortunately though, he'd made provisions. Get this - even though we hadn't seen each other in over a decade, he FedEx'd a key to his apartment to a neighbor, and outlined directions for me to pick it up. I spent a little over a week on my own in a super-nice apartment in downtown Beijing - not too shabby. After a few months of noisy dorm rooms and shared bathrooms, it was nice to have a little privacy. I spent equal time relaxing like a bum and exploring the city. It was really nice, but I was looking forward to seeing Casey again, as well as meeting his girlfriend.
To make a long story short, on September 26, 2007, two old friends shook hands in Beijing, China, for the first time in over a decade. We had a fantastic time - reminiscing about old times, telling stories about family and old friends... catching up on the last ten years of each other's lives.
I'll have a lot of stories to tell at the end of the trip. This will be one of my favorites. Some friendships fade, and others even die. Some however, go into hibernation for a while, waiting to re-awaken. You never know when or where the alarm may go off...
Inappropriate Transformers Humor
(Warning! These clips have language that's not good for little ears - or corporate offices for that matter)