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Friendship constant in life of change

Jan. 19, 2001

He's already been thanked, but once again I must express my appreciation for student body President Jon Rolph, the calendar committee and anyone else who worked to give Baylor the day off to observe Martin Luther King Day.

It is the second time the day has been a holiday for me.

The first time was when I sort of unexpectedly switched high schools in the middle of my junior year. I had gone to a large private school in Houston for almost eight years, and then poof -- I found myself at a 4-A high school in the Spring Branch ISD, where during my senior year I finally got MLK day off from school.

The kids I more or less grew up with stayed at Second Baptist, but I went down the road to Memorial High School. My group of friends was about half Memorial kids and half Second Baptist kids the day I first sat in a desk paid for by tax dollars. But by the third Monday in January during my senior year, 95 percent of my good friends were at Memorial. It wasn't that I didn't like my old friends anymore --- I just rarely saw them and somehow gravitated to people at my new school.

The second time I celebrated the holiday with the aid of a day off from school was Sunday night and Monday. Although my observance was not an orthodox one, I recognize and admire King's achievements.

Maybe it was the pure excitement of having a day off and our desire not to waste it that fueled our discussion, or perhaps God or fate led us up to my friends room where one of the most amazing experiences of my life took place.

I spent Sunday night playing pool and later, I adjourned to my friends' apartment, where for some reason, five of us talked until 9 a.m. Monday. One of these friends I went to Second Baptist with, one of them I pledged with and the other two I started hanging out with this semester. For me it was a mixed bunch, but one guy in the group had known all of us for at least the last two years.

Souls were opened up that night as five upper-middle class kids shared about parents and divorce, love, faith and friendship.

One of my newer friends asked me why I don't really hang out with guys from the fraternity I recently de-pinned. He said he didn't want the same thing to happen to him, that I would drift to another bunch of friends. Over Christmas break, my mom wondered the same thing, but Sunday night didn't really have an answer. I honestly hadn't considered why, in a matter of months, I had surrounded myself with new friends.

But after sleeping for 10 hours Monday night and a few class periods of pondering, I have come to a conclusion: Humans are tied together by the activities they engage in.

Any good Baylor student and/or Kanakuk camper knows the line 'Friends are friends forever, if the Lord's the Lord of them.' Christians are tied together by their faith. Cat breeders, drug dealers, professors and accountants are united by their passions; therefore, they tend to have friends within their sphere. But say your prized Persian drinks a bowl of antifreeze and you don't make it to this year's cat show at the Best Western. You might take up Tupperware and make a few new friends. This is an unavoidable, semiconscious, side effect of life that all of us have both given and received.

I've had times like Sunday night before -- in a camp cabin late one July night, in a car coming back from the Beastie Boys concert or while stranded in Speegleville Park one freezing night in February. In all my memories, I can think of someone from whom I have grown apart. I start to apologize, but now I rationalize that it's just the way it has to be. Sharing my life with one person or 10,000 is something I neither choose nor control. I'm just thankful for the last 21 years and 236 days I've lived.

JEFF SCHELDT

Assistant city editor