Thursday, January 17, 2013

Our Ross, Philadelphia's Gain

I remember it like it was yesterday. Back in 1996, I had just graduated from UGA (only took me a short 5 years) and I was dating Stephanie. I was back in Atlanta working for Enterprise Rent-A-Car. There was a party on campus and Stephanie asked if I could come up to Athens. That evening, I talked to Ross Jacobs. Ross and I knew each other at Georgia. We were fraternity brothers but that was about it.

Ross tells me though that he remembered something during our college days that told him a lot about me. He was doing a paper for a school project and did it on my efforts to beat cystic fibrosis. I didn't talk about CF much then but I agreed to do it. He said the quote he remembered most was when he asked me about how hard I worked and if I had to always give it 100%. I told him this:

I always give 120% because when I commit to something I work as hard or harder than anyone else.

He found that to be inspirational.

Ross was the guy who hung out with the younger college crowd and he had a spirit about him that made everyone want to get to know the guy. When Ross arrived at a party, everyone went looking for him. When I arrived, I always felt that I found the corner of the room and just sat there and hoped I would have the courage to talk to people. We were opposites but in a good way. I learned a lot from him.

Ross and I began to talk at this particular party and he said he was moving down to Atlanta to work at CNN. He just needed a place...that took dogs...and he needed a roommate...and...well, you get it.

Ross and I moved to Dumpwoody...I mean Dunwoody Courtyards in 1996. The place was somewhat crappy and some of our neighbors were a bit on the strange side. but we had some pretty good times there. Ross, myself and his dog Cobi lived there for a couple of years. Cobi and I got off on the wrong foot/paw as his barking and nipping perturbed me but he was only a 12 inch long black dauchsund so I eventually learned how to deal.

There was little to no parking at Dunwoody Courtyards so we were unable to have any big parties and we wanted that to change. After a few years, we finally moved to Harrow Drive in Chamblee; a place we would rename The Love Shack. We had 2 other roommates: Peter and Wayne. The parties we had became legendary. Our parties had at least 200 people. Ross created an Olympic Sport called how many beer bottles can you throw in a trash can. We began using the game as a way to impress least that's what we thought it did. While at The Love Shack, I talked to people about an event I was going to start called A Wish for Wendy. The attendance at the softball tournament initially was mostly people from those parties.

Ross and I were always there to celebrate with the other when a special occasion came up. After our first Wish for Wendy, Ross picked up a cake for me and there was supposed to be a softball with the word CF on it. Ross told the cake lady to put "CF on the ball." So she literally wrote CF on the ball on the cake. I threw a party for him when he became an uncle for the first time and made him a hat that said Jake's uncle. Thank goodness the embroiderer did not write Jake's Uncle on the hat.

Here is a picture from the party I threw for Ross after his sister gave birth to his first nephew. Ross was so psyched about being an uncle that I made him a hat that read "Jake's Uncle."

Ross and I worked out together every day after work. We ate dinner together at the house. He supported my infatuation of Britney Spears and I supported his infatuation of Heather Mitts. Speaking of which, I met the soccer star/model several years later and had her call Ross on the phone. The whole thing was classic. Ross, if you ever meet Britney Spears, I do not want the same in exchange. I think she might be a little on the crazy end.

Meeting Heather Mitts

Ross and I loved our times at The Love Shack but we soon moved out to a new place with our friend Darrell which we would rename the Buddha Pleasure Palace. The parties continued to grow. Ross and I became the best of friends. When I got sick, Ross was there. When Ross's dad died, I tried to be there for him. When we dealt with break-ups, the other was always there. When our sports teams (Ross - Philly teams, me - Atlanta teams) failed (which was every season), we were there to support the other even if it meant repainting the wall because one of us threw the remote control when our team lost in overtime.

We would spend most evenings out until 4am in Buckhead. After a long night of partying, we would talk about life, our failed attempts at finding the right girl and why our sports teams would never win a title. As much as we talked about negative stuff, it was so much fun to talk about it with him. I think he felt the same way. As we got older, things changed. I moved in with my girlfriend Andrea and eventually got married and moved to the burbs. He moved further into the city and had different roommates. We still talked a lot over the phone and arranged dinner meetings when we could. Still it was as if we had a long distance relationship. It just wasn't the same as when we lived together.

When Andrea gave me the coolest trip in the world - a trip to visit Fenway and Yankee Stadium, she made sure that he was my companion on the trip.

Ross and I on the baseball trip that Andrea surprised me with.

Ross was the best man at my wedding and several years later, I was the best man at his. I made sure that my children called him Uncle Ross because he was a member of our family as far as I was concerned.

He came to every Wish for Wendy until last year...for a good reason. His wife Summer gave birth to their first child, a beautiful daughter they named Annabelle.

Recently, Ross was given an opportunity that he could not pass up. He got a great job offer in Philadelphia and accepted it. He, Summer and Annabelle are moving there next week. My kids are going to miss their Uncle Ross very much. Andrea is going to miss him too. And yeah, I am going to miss him most of all.

Ross, thank you for all you did for me. Thank you for being a good friend and in many ways a role model. Thank you for always doing "the right thing" and for always looking at the glass half full. I'm going to miss having you around to talk about many of life's highs and lows specifically my team's failed attempts to win a title.

I don't look at this as much as a goodbye but more as another step in our lives. We used to joke at Ray's Pizza in Buckhead at four in the morning how we may live together forever and never meet the right girl. Turns out, we both had our happy endings. We just won't be experiencing them in the same city.

Ross, while I know we won't be able to grab dinners at a drop of the hat anymore, I will make sure to call you quite often to talk about our personal lives, our families and of course our miserable sports teams.

I promise, just like I told you in college, to give 120%.

Your best friend,


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