Your life is a tree and some of the people you meet are like leaves. When the wind blows they swing from side to side and when their season is done they wither and die. Then there are branches. These people stay around a little longer and can fool you into trusting them. You will know who a branch is in your life because the moment you need to put weight on them they break off and fall, leaving you scrambling to find something to cling to. The leaves and the branches are there to teach you things as you grow, to bring in nutrients and knowledge and to make the tree stronger but they are only temporary. When you look at the bottom of the tree you will find the roots. These roots are the people who will be there to help and guide you no matter what. You may not see them everyday or even speak with them in years but they are always there when you need help and a solid base. Without these roots, a tree would have nothing to stand on, no support to draw strength from. Even the biggest and strongest trees may have only but a few roots.
I’d like share tale of success. Amongst the traditional holiday rush I find it important to highlight a story that revolves around faith, trust, and friendship. Through this I hope not to shed light upon myself as the hero of this saga but rather to explain what surprises true friendship can yield.
I met this man on a fill-in contract in the Caribbean. Complete with sass and an afro, my dancer friend, we’ll call him Chase, brought compassion and sensitivity to his “don’t care what anyone thinks” exterior. He taught me the tree metaphor of friendship that has impacted my life ever since. That not everyone will be your best friend and that’s okay. In the grand scheme of things people come and go in one’s life for a reason and the matter in which those friendships occur is meant to be.
Our time together was short, but as fate would have it, we would see each other again. Seven months after we had met and meshed, I had completed a contract that left me in New York City. My first time in the Big Apple, I was thankful to stay for a week with a college friend. I had heard that Chase was auditioning in the city and doing his damnedest to make it to the big time.
At this chapter in life’s cruel game, he was down and out on his luck with big dreams, a bigger heart, and an even bigger need of help. We met up in Brooklyn at my friend’s apartment, where he recounted to me the stories of his struggles in the big city. Strapped for money, he had been staying at a friend’s place and eating whenever he could afford it. I had never imagined seeing my friend, a strong, muscular dancer, this scrawny and unhealthy.
Chase dreamed of dancing on the legendary Radio City Music Hall’s stage. Home of the Rockettes, one of New York’s most recognized icons, one can only imagine the level of competition to score a role in one of the three casts of their annual Christmas Spectacular. Refusing to lose sight of his dreams, Chase auditioned prior to our reunion.
I received a phone call a couple nights later with a plea that melted my heart. Chase had an outstanding phone bill that reached beyond his means. Over two hundred dollars stood between him and a callback. Together we weighed other options for communication between the company and him and came upon the conclusion that this was the only way. That if he could not get his phone up and running, he could lose his shot at the role of a lifetime. My life on ships may look glamorous but it is nowhere near a lucrative profession. That was a lot of money, so I hung up the phone, had a double vodka soda, and called back with my credit card number at the ready. Yes I had only known Chase for two weeks, yet I had put my faith into his character. How could I refuse? I could hear the desperation in his voice – this was no scam.
Phone bill paid off, Chase received a call soon after announcing that he had earned a role in one of the company’s traveling casts that would go from arena to arena throughout the country spreading Christmas joy and cheer. The pay was fantastic, the job was perfection, and most importantly, it renewed Chase’s happiness and confidence in himself and his abilities. His tour would take him all the way to the west coast.
As a gift of appreciation, Chase got me free admission to his Portland performance. The only snag was that it was the day before Christmas Eve. Ignoring the time conflict, I took my mother three hours south to meet and watch the man I had supported in his path to Radio City. In an envelope, I received my reimbursement in full, followed by a show that blew my mind! Chase even took us on a backstage tour before heading out to another hotel to spend another night in another strange city. He was living the dream that he had chased for years. And all it took on my end was trust and patience and perhaps a little faith.
To this day, although we speak rarely, I strongly value our friendship. We’ve seen each other for less than three weeks in a lifetime, yet I know that this man is a “root” in my life.
This holiday season, his third with the company, he is performing in the Christmas Spectacular on Radio City Music Hall’s New York stage.