You’re far too kind 12

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God Philippians 4:6

Who knows exactly when we met, as long as our first encounter budded into a friendship burgeoning with laughter and watered by tears. For those moments that we shared I am humbly grateful.

It’s ice raining in Richmond and my thoughts are frozen.

What are you doing? How is it in Oregon?

We don’t talk as often as I’d like, no … but I know.

So why are you on this list? Please. You turned out to be one of my closest friends in RVA over a two-year span. This radical pairing launched in early 2013, when we both worked our first Zero Gravity Basketball event and ha, boy am I glad that you recruited me for the job.

I am thankful for the times that you housed me. You entrusted me with your apartment key for a few days while you left to stay at your parents’. You’ve entrusted me to walk in and out of your place with no splintering doubt that I was holding a malicious intentions. You confided in me with things not often told to people. I learned much more from you than you did from me, believe it or not. Staying at your place last summer initiated me to shave off 20 pounds. From staying at your place last summer, your $60 voucher for City Diner fed me for a week and a half.

I sincerely enjoyed taking those random walks downtown, even the time we were caught by the police slipping out of the Governor’s gates. We were innocent but our photographic head shots were taken anyway.

You’re a good juggler; you’re easily entertained. I wish you the super best, brother, hope our ends meet in the future. Study hard and stay strong, mentally, over there. If you ever do decide to return, make sure you come back a better person.

TYDPV!

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You’re far too kind 11

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God

Philippians 4:6

It’s hard to type right now. My partially-torn heart received a good jerk tonight.

The VCU Rams dropped their third game in less than a two-week span — this evening falling to the La Salle Explorers in double overtime. I am not worried about the record, but I would be lying if I told you that I am not concerned about the team morale. We will get better; I believe in our head coach, coaching staff, players … and nobody — nobody should be — is closing the door on our squad’s chances of making a deep run in the NCAA Tournament come March.

Tonight I walked into the locker room and there you were, alone, with your head down. You must have been praying. Or thinking about your grandmother. I wonder what God, or she, was telling you. I stood close by and prayed, too. I could feel your aura — of pain and brokenness, of uncertainty. You weren’t your jaunty self, the combustible personality influential enough to set a forest ablaze wasn’t present.

— to be continued

Romans 12:15

15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.

You’re far too kind 10

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God

Philippians 4:6

The first time was the worst time. From that point on you improved as a poet, as a friend, as a listener. When was it — the fall semester of 2012 — when I persuaded myself to perform at a Slam Poetry Open Mic at the Shafer Street Playhouse. After registering and picking our names out of the hat (I was 10th out of 13), I forcibly sat in the cushioned seats and waited with the rest of the artists.

There you were, standing on the stage with a come-at-me-bro demeanor, a magnitude powerful enough to keep an 8.6 from quaking. When they called my number … let’s just say that my hands would never get that clammy quarterbacking a flag football championship game.

You recited a poem about a job you once had at Bojangles! and I will never forget the punch.

Bam! and my man went slam on the counter. Girl left her hat, would you give it to her?

I didn’t approach you that eye-opening evening, however I won’t forget the time I walked by you, sitting on the bench outside of Cabell Library, in your ugly, brown vest, and your fedora. … God, that fedora. Instant connection, fedoras were my thing.

I introduced myself to you and to my surprise, you said you remembered my performance. Your constructive criticism made me realize that I was more sensitive than I could handle. I wasn’t in this poetry thing to showcase my lyricism. Yes a message was conveyed, but the TRUE reason why I even took this leap …

was to strengthen my vocals. I someday wish to coach. I someday want to analyze a sport. I want to touch lives and through this cathartic, stress-relieving hobby, I knew that I could accomplish this personal goal by standing in front of 10s, 100s, 1,000s of listeners in a dark, crowded room.

You opened up to me and we developed a bond that exists to this day. We don’t talk much, no, but I know you’re out there in North Carolina grinding your buttocks off. I know that your sharpening your talents. We’ll connect later down the road, God-willing, and that lunch bro-date, or wedding, or possibly on a vacation with our wives and children, will be simply glorious.

Some may recognize these nights as an open mic night, but no, those late nights in the studio, or at Emilio’s, or at Addis, or at Kenn Tico’s, or at Aurora, or at VCU, or at your house, or on my balcony until sunrise, were moments that I will forever appreciate and remember.

Your friendship.

You’re far too kind IIIIIIIII

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God

Philippians 4:6

I guess?

Appreciating an ex is a daunting task, especially if you two broke up on harsh terms. Literally? Yet you spoiled me with love, rotted me with confidence and — ah yes eureka — I know why my heart is eternally grateful for your existence.

Without your prayers and your company, I would, I swear, never have drop-kicked an addiction that I battled for a decade.

You sit there … for how many hours … with nine other guys that … are how old … and lose everything that you work for?

That’s right; those were the words you duct taped, no, stitched my heart with. You were not the first person to persuade me to quit, obviously, but you were the only one to word the phrase in such a mind-blowing way only my stubbornness could grasp. You made my favorite game sound like the most trivial, stupidest  on Earth, which is why I discontinued. …

Anywho.

Thanks for the memories. Thanks for your time. Thanks for making me lunch every morning. Thanks for sharing with me your deepest convictions. Thanks for allowing me help you fight your urges. Thanks for your nakedness. Thanks for your mindfulness. Thanks for your gentleness.

Hope your current antipathy for me will blow over someday. If it does not, I have no complaints.

You’re far too kind IIIIIIII

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God

Philippians 4:6

This incident occurred recently and as fortuitous as this may seem for some of you, I kid you not – everything I type in this empty box happened.

I paid my friend a visit at Daddio’s Grill one evening, a restaurant and bar located four minutes from my home. I sat next to you and your friend, and we engaged in a conversation about my career goals.

You listened to me tell you everything and vice versa. For the first time in my life I learned about Mr. Jim Lampley and (this is pathetic) Coach Dean Smith. You assumed, at first, that I was yanking your chain. I was doing the exact opposite, I had no idea.

To your disbelief and disappointment I — future sportswriter — had no clue who these iconic figures were. I told you about my passion, the level of fervor and intense love for the game of football. You heard me out, which I appreciated so much, that I even unveiled the truth about my 12 diaries in my shoebox that I’ve kept since 1998.

Shockingly you then reveal that your sister is married to Mr. Donald Davis, a nationally-recognized storyteller. This point I’m either dreaming or God is at work. Always the latter.

When God works everything starts to feel surreal. You instructed me to dial 411, directory services, to figure out your sister’s phone number in Ocracoke, North Carolina. Lo and behold, her number and home address was sent to me via text, and I … went numb.

You suggested that I call and speak with Mr. Davis, to share with him my aspirations.

I called the next day. I spoke with your sister (Donald was packing his luggage for his next trip), and the gratitude that consumed me made me realize that anybody. …

everybody. … is capable of achieving great things, as long as they #NeverQuit.

For as long as I live — I hope to keep your boler (I traded my fedora for your hat). I wish you the best. …

And tonight, I learn that I was literally the first-and-only person to retrieve your sister’s house phone number. Your transparency, your strong suit, is honestly the main reason I followed through and dialed her number.

Nervous wreck or not, we will all survive.

thank you earl

You’re far too kind IIIIIII

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God

Philippians 4:6

God’s message is crystal clear. While driving on Interstate 95 South towards Richmond, I merged into the far left lane and pulled up behind this license plate:  

PHIL 4-6. Yes, another friendly reminder from the Father.

I immediately thought of one person, who’ll remain anonymous, to write about before hitting the sack. We met eight months ago. You were bright, giddy, approachable. While we waited for the basketball camp coaches to arrive at the Stu, we started chatting. …

Eventually, you listened to my testimony, of how God helped me land a Game Day Internship alongside the Redskins’ writing staff, and how my passion pushed me to combat the frustrations during times of hopelessness. I told you that, with prayer and faith, anything is plausible. There is a reason why some situations are pitch-black and others aren’t — and difficult or not, there is a time for everything — God will never dangle gifts and dreams above His children’s heads out of mockery, but He blesses us if those desires are according to His will.

Ever since we met, I have wanted to do more to glorify God. Ever since you asked me for my insight, I’ve done my best to provide words of encouragement and wisdom. Only God speaks through me, all I can do is provide the truth. I’m excited you can relate to my life experiences. Remember though, that I am not legally qualified to counsel anybody and that I am expendable. But you keep me posted — seeking mentorship and advice — and that’s a rarity nowadays to maintain a balanced and healthy relationship. From Day 1 I perceived you as a hardworking, God-fearing man. You still are. Although we are four years apart, you are extremely shrewd and self-motivated and highly mature for your age.

You shared your deepest concerns with me. I will not specify, but for that transparency I am eternally grateful. We communicate on a weekly basis, I hope this is a lifelong engagement. I recall promising you to stay in RVA so we could grow closer.

I am still here, still praying.

love you KT

You’re far too kind IIIIII

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God

Philippians 4:6

So uh, there’s no other way to word this. When I think of how much you’ve helped, I bawl my eyes out.  Your companionship means a lot to me.

We met at Cafe Chocolate, I served your table — you were with a bunch of Marylanders. That night I was feeling free-spirited. I introduced myself. One thing led to another, and the conversation that tipped the cup over to become the stream we’re canoeing on until this day was on the topic of poetry (others call it rap).

And rap and God was a combination potent enough to ignite a friendship that I hope will last until we’re pushing each other’s wheelchairs. After we exchanged numbers, we collaborated, goofed off, recorded, goofed off some more. All the red wine-induced freestyles in your car and deeeeeeep talks on your front porch steps.

One takes for a reason.

When I needed direction, you were there. Your mom also lent a hand, her guidance, coupled with your support, is the sole reason I got this far.

Early Summer 2014

After getting through the first wave of interviews for GWU’s grad program, the staff deemed that rejecting me was for the best. A last-minute decision due to my lack of classroom experience altered the course of history.

Pause for dramatic effect.

Dr. O referred me to Dr. H and she told me I could gain my “classroom experience” during the summer months at a middle school program in Herndon. I went in to get my badges and yes, due to a misdemeanor charge — reckless speeding ticket — I was ineligible to work in Fairfax County for a year. I could either (A) work at a restaurant for a year in Fairfax County or (B) move to Richmond.

Richmond, from July through October, was an insane ride. Emotionally, mentally, physically, stretched all boundaries. I had contacted everyone to build my network. VCU shooting guard Jordan Burgess’s mother, a principal in Chesterfield, fed me valuable insight. Mr. Earl Mason. Dr. Colleen Thoma. Jill. Jamaal. Becky. Justin. Dr. Kim Hanneman. Corey. Etc.

I applied to Henrico County Public Schools. There was a part-time instructional assistant position available, so I submitted all of me. I applied to Faison School For Autism. I’ve applied to 290 jobs after graduating in 2013, two more cover letters was a laughing matter at this point.

I took the job at Godwin High School. I love the students. I worked in the Exceptional Education department and since November, I have been in love being in this field. All because you suggested that I should become a Special Education teacher. I feel as if I’m at home when I clock in. I deployed all the undying patience, and compassion for others I had stored within to good use on a daily basis. The opportunity to perpetually exercise my all-natural personality, what a blessing.

Yesterday, Faison School For Autism called me and extended the full-time position. I took it.

Your words that one night meant a lot to me. Goes to show how, with an open-mind, all things are possible if you have faith in Him.

I live by His grace and am grateful … to have such congenial friends. You’re one of them.

You’re far too kind IIIII

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God

Philippians 4:6

You can never have a surfeit of love. Love is (supposed to be) unconditional, an act of forgiveness without justification and an expression more meaningful than mere words. One of the most perplexing concepts to grasp, love is simply fascinating.

Sometimes your glib responses meant the world to me. Never did I impugn your decisions. The imbroglios you put me through, the tribulations were worthier than a diamond ring I never purchased. I didn’t propose, maybe I should have. No regrets–my mentors were right–timing is everything.

Were you marriage material? Ya.

Absolutely. Were you my Joe Montana? I’m not sure. Your impact on my life still rings today.

Do you care? I bet $1 million that you don’t.

That’s why I am thankful for you. Your father loathed me. Your mother, condemning as she was, thought I was a clown. I owe them more gratitude. Their resentment towards me only bolstered my personality, self-awareness. They were implacable, that sparked my motivation.

I’m more grateful for your parents. You went out to explore the world and returned with scarred hands and bruised heart.

I still remember the night that you matured. You came over to seek reconciliation, two years after the mess, with a case of Budweiser and left my apartment with your life changed. I won’t reveal to the public what happened, that’s between us, but you know what?

You broke my heart twice–not once–and drew me closer to God.

That’s why.

thanks CL

You’re far too kind IIII

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God

Philippians 4:6

Summer 2005

We met at a church retreat. You towered over us, puberty-challenged, basketball-loving teens with your six-foot-two frame, and that guaranteed you friends. (That and your personality, of course.)  

Correct me if I’m wrong. You’ve partook in all of my life’s pivotal moments. When I scheduled the NFL Films internship interview, you were there. When NFL.com called to conduct a phone interview, you sat next to me. When VCU Basketball brought me in, we chatted online. When I entered my first serious relationship, you were there to hear me out. I’ve still never been able to win you a Co-Ed FF Championship (next season), but you always believed in my washed-up arm–that it would lead a team full of youngsters to the Promised.

I’ve flirted and danced with retirement more than Brett Favre did. (Remember how much of a vexation that was?) But that didn’t stop you from inviting me to play. As much as I wavered back and forth, not just with football–girls, gambling, and other issues–I am grateful that you were there. I apologize for the times I neglected your caveats, I wish I heeded them all, but hey.

The one thing I will never forget is the time you shared your concerns with me. Normally, you were absorbing my gloom, providing constructive criticism. You opened up to me about your family members. I’ll keep it at that.

Your time is the best gift.

thank you JO

You’re far too kind II

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God

Philippians 4:6

Gratitude is a bottomless pit. Not everyone dives in. I did.

I currently work with the 16th-ranked VCU Men’s Basketball team under Head Coach Shaka Smart in Richmond, Va. Many of you do not know how this journey started, or how this internship transpired into something greater than I could ever imagine.

October 2012

One more, just one more internship, God.

With seven months left I begged God for an opportunity. Anything, literally, would have decorated my jejune resume. At the time I was a sports journalist for The Commonwealth Times and authoring articles on the side for The Blacksheep Journal, a satirical publication. … basically I was doomed. One night, while perusing my VCU inbox, I noticed that the womens’ basketball team sent out a school-wide notice seeking student-managers. I applied.

The head manager replied and invited me to a team practice. Due to a scheduling conflict I could not attend. I was anxious when he didn’t respond to my correspondence. I continued to pray. After apologizing to him, I received an email from the head manager of the mens’ team a week later and set up an interview.

My God, the Rams basketball team? Final Four 2011?

We met at Jimmy John’s. When you asked about my experiences with basketball, I told the truth. I hustle when I play, but no, sorry. My basketball IQ is low; my dreams to start for an NFL team under center were shot down back in 2002 when the optometrist broke the news to my parents of my tearing retina. You were seeking a videographer. An iPhone camera, the only device I handled and filmed with up until this point.

We spoke about our respective high schools. I graduated from WSHS, you went to CHS. Shared a laugh about how I went to your school’s senior prom. You reached out your hand; I was hired.

God knew the internship I needed.

God blessed me, and I know He blesses you. I recorded all of our squad’s home games, practices and workouts. God blessed me with a summer job, serving alongside other managers and graduate assistants for our head coach’s summer basketball camp. I will forever be indebted to you extending your time and hand. Without you emailing back, where would I have ended up?

That question is pointless–I am still with the team, two years later.

thanks fik.