Posted by: Mark Nielsen | August 26, 2007

Missing In Action

It’s 1am Sunday, I’m in Wisconsin, and I can’t sleep.

I could blame it on the full moon… I’ve always been oddly energized when it’s full. But that’s not it.

I could blame it on the loudmouths out on the lake somewhere, still whooping it up. But I didn’t hear them until I got out of bed and came into the family room, by the open back door. So that’s not it either.

Here’s the problem: I’m up late thinking of an old friend, who I’m worried about. Thus I am slightly envious of this boat party (probably just 3-4 young, carefree goons on a pontoon), because they remind me of wild times in my own youth, with the aforementioned old friend.

He’s been avoiding me for about a year now, because I made the mistake of lending him money, and he couldn’t handle the repayment plan we agreed on. So now he’s ashamed. Again. This guy’s had a rough life, and made some choices he’s not proud of. But I never gave up on him.

I’ve considered forgiving the debt, but I suspect this would not be the best thing for him. I have another friend who went through Debtors Anonymous, who did manage to gradually repay me on an even larger loan, taking several years to do so. So the victory in this second friend’s life –the chance to say, “I did it. I’m dependable.”– is the same victory I want for the first guy.

Tonight I was up rehearsing what I’ll say to Friend #1 when I track him down. (He goes “in the wind” for extended periods, but we always reconnect.) I wonder if the repayment plan I drafted didn’t give him enough time to get back on his feet. I wonder if he even wants to call me, but can’t face another mess he feels bad about.

But mostly I just miss my friend. If I could have him drinking a beer with me on my little bass boat next month, both of us laughing about something exceedingly juvenile, I’d forgive him his debt (and forgive the pain he caused by blowing me off, by losing control of his life again).

Friendship is more precious than money, without a doubt. But money makes us lose sleep. Ain’t that a bitch?


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