The next day, we got up, showered, and left for Lion’s Choice. This is some roast beef place that is a St. Louis thing. We met Nicci there. Anyway, we had roast beef and fries, with horseradish and honey mustard. It was pretty good. Plus, the restaurant was called Lion’s Choice.

So then we (all three of us, DLD) set off for Champaign-Urbana (I’m not sure which one. I’ll just say Champaign). Dave went with Leo, and I drove Leo’s car. I kind of wanted to drive by myself.

I don’t know what I was doing, but I was so preoccupied, I never noticed going into Illinois, or even crossing the Mississippi. You know how stoked I got about seeing the Continental Divide. You can imagine how much I wanted to see the Mississippi River. But I missed it. I was pretty bummed.

So I spent the driving time through Illinois (which besides Chicago, is as boring as Kansas) just kind of thinking. Also, I left the radio on scan, so I could see what types of radio stations there were in hick Illinois. it was actually really interesting. There were long stretches of road where no station would come out at all, so it would just scan stations endlessly, just looping from the beginning. In some areas, the only stations that came out were country stations. That surprised me. If there were only one station that came out in an area, why for heaven’s sake country?

Other stations played truly eclectic music. Like this one stations played U2 right after Britney Spears. I guess that’s not so bizarre, but it was a bizarre mix. Even more bizarre was that the DJ had this hick hillbilly accent that killed me. Just hearing a voice like that say, “That U2 with…” It was also surprising how many Christian music radio stations there were. There were tons. Really surprising.

We stopped at a gas station on the way, not too far into Illinois, and it had one of those machines with a bunch of quarters and a bar that slides back and forth. You put in a quarter, and it bounces down, and you want to try to make quarters fall. I’m not sure if you know what I’m talking about. But it’s at kids’ arcades a lot. I was surprised to see it because it’s essentially gambling. At arcades, like Dave and Busters, you usually play for tickets – making quarters fall gives you tickets. But this was for the quarters themselves, so it was a little surprising to see that there.

Anyway, I decide to do it, and Dave chastizes me. “You’re an idiot.” He says. “You know how these things work, right? You can’t win.” I just wanted to do it. So I do, and lose. And I want to try it again. Again, Dave chastizes me. But this time, I make about 4 quarters fall. It was hilarious how quickly Dave’s attitude changed. It was like, “You’re an idiot ooh let me try!” And he immediately puts in 3 quarters. It was hilarious.

Anyway, I kind of figured out how it worked, and played a few more times. A little more than a few, maybe. In the end, I made $2.50. So I won the same amount in Illinois that I did in Reno. Weird.

Another thing. For some random reason, me Dave and Leo decided to all wear our KCPC junior retreat T-shirts and khaki shorts. We looked hilarious. I’m not joking. Every time I looked at Dave and Leo I just cracked up. We looked like fools. I’m pretty sure we embarrassed Nicci. Anyway, when we got to Eddie’s we were wondering if he might be wearing his T-shirt, what an incredible coincidence that would be. At any rate, it turns out he’s wearing a gray T-shirt, but not the retreat T-shirt. Of course when he sees us, we look like idiots. It was great.

Eddie’s place is fascinating. I don’t know, I just think college towns like Champaign and Berkeley and places like that, where complexes are full of students, is just fascinating. First of all, the hallways and elevator smelled like urine. But whatever. His place is cool, but cramped. The bedrooms are tiny, and they use a loft as a third bedroom.

Like I wrote before, it was great hanging out with Dave, Leo and Eddie because again, it just felt so comfortable. We have history together, you know? We all went through FiCS from the beginning, and kind of grew together. And they’re the guys I’m closest to in my class, so I don’t know, it was like being with family. The original class, together again. It just felt great. And I think we could all agree it was a lot of fun hanging out together. It was just a great interaction among the four of us. I don’t know, maybe it was just me that felt this way. But it was cool. The 4 of us, besides me and Eddie, never really hung out on a daily basis in college. But whenever any of us got together, it was cool, you know? One fond memory I have is that graduation day, after our graduation dinner we had, me, Dave, and Eddie accompanied Leo to the hotel his sister was staying at, and we just kind of hung out a little bit, like a last fling. It’s a fond memory in my mind.

Anyway, it was a little reunion, and great for me. We watched some Michael Jordan videos, and then went out to play some ball.

Eddie schooled us, but it was still a lot of fun. There’s just something about playing basketball with guys that’s very bonding, even if you suck. I don’t know, this and experiences I’ve had at home, where every male at church plays basketball after service make me feel this way. Basketball is very useful in bringing guys together comfortability wise. So, I’m a big believer in that, and I think every guy needs to play ball. It’s just very important in having that bond with other guys. That’s my claim.

We went back and showered and then went out to eat with Eddie and a friend. Before we went, we got Eddie to dress like us, to maximize our dorkiness.

He took us to this place where the tables are like booths, and they face a series of screens, all showing different TV programs (sports), and you can choose the audio at the table. They also had this trivia game there that was kind of interesting. But the setup made it really hard to talk to each other. All we could really do is watch the Lakers-Pacers game. I had ribs. We also played that trivia game, and our name was KCPC. They post the results on the screen, so when we were in first place, I was being a dork and standing up, showing off my KCPC junior class retreat T-shirt. We watched the first half of the game there, then went back to Eddie’s place to watch the 2nd half.

Eddie’s roommates, one of whom is Alex Kwan, watched the game with us. His roommate Peter just did not get our humor. For whatever reason, Alex, when hearing all of our random comments, didn’t really say much. But Peter was hilarious. As Dave wrote, we were randomly heckling Phil Jackson. It was pretty funny. Like, “Please Phil, shave your chest! Clip your toenails, man. For the love of God, clean your glasses!” Just random, non-sensical heckling. And Peter got visibly, audibly annoyed. It was hilarious. I guess our humor is an acquired taste.

After the game, we watched some Michael Jordan videos and then stayed up late just talking and chilling and catching up. It was a good time. I’m very proud of everyone. I don’t know, besides myself, they’ve all gone through really interesting experiences, and those experiences have made them grow a lot. A lot’s happened in Leo’s life, and he just seems more mature. And as always, he’s desiring to serve a lot at church and it’s cool. Plus he’s freaking engaged. Dave has that whole Korea thing. And Eddie’s clearly grown a lot spiritually out in Illinois. It was just a good time. We weren’t serious the whole time, but it was a good time just sitting around and talking and not doing anything in particular. The four of us, FiCS class of ’98.

I can’t express how good it was for me to hang out with the three of them. It was just a really good time. Comfortable, and in a way encouraging also. I don’t know, like I said, I can’t define closeness by frequency of talking anymore, it’s something else. But I just felt, being with them, that I was with 3 close friends, and that’s a good feeling. Anyway, it was a great evening. And a great morning. The 6th day.

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