Sad Drive Reality Check

March 4, 2016 By Tom

It’s been a whirlwind of a week. Between the Tip The Hat Grant voting drive having Nine13 up for the chance to win a $125,000 grant, Brackets for Good, and prepping for our annual Wheels & Wings…it’s been a blur.

Throw on the regular work and social obligation stuff and it’s been chaos.

With that being said, I cracked Wednesday night. And one of my favorite songs of all time, Sad Drive, by Watershed and Colin Gawel, seemed to fit the mood well.

It’s a sad, sad drive on a sad, dark and lonely night
It’s a sad, sad drive, when only one of us
Still has hope in his eyes
Wait, I’d drive to feel your touch

But hope, that’s just another drug
Trying to kill the pain like aspirin make you feel better

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Denver even networked with Rowdie and won him over

I went to a pretty awesome event down at the local brewery. It was an event that brought my SKL moderator and my friend and mentor who runs the Indy Chamber together for discussion about leadership and Indianapolis. It was an incredible event with a great group, but there was a pit in my stomach all night that just wouldn’t go away.

It was the reality that it was an event Denver would have been at, should have been at, would have loved being at. I think it’s the first time I’ve been at an event in the last seven weeks that had every bit of her personality woven into it. In the midst of being surrounded by some of the folks I’m closest with, I felt like I was a million miles away. If you never had the chance to experience Denver work a room and charm the hell out of everyone in it, you missed out, and Wednesday night I just kept pondering how much everyone in that room was missing out by her not being here.

Now distance, it’s a funny thing
‘Cause romance is just a touch away
You can touch me with your hands or with your letters
As soon as you went away, I remembered the things I forgot to say
As soon as you went away, I remembered

Back on Sunday, I had stumbled across a note Denver wrote me last year before Wheels & Wings¬†2015 congratulating me on my hard work and wishing me a successful event. I have a million notes from her, every single one I cherish. It highlighted the fact that this event is incredibly bittersweet to be promoting. She helped me so much with the first two years of this and it feels pretty crushing to not have her around for this one. As she did with so many things, she pushed me out of my comfort zone and encouraged me to tackle this event. Honestly, I thought several times right after her death about cancelling it because I wasn’t sure if I had it in me to be forced to confront the new normal…but I’m glad we decided to carry on and make it happen.

Trying to get to your place by the sunrise
Before the buzz dies in my eyes
We snuck out down to the beach
Where I learned the lessons that you teach
You never taught me the final lesson of how to lose you
‘Til now

I think this line of lyrics is what hits me the most out of the song, “You never taught me the final lesson of how to lose you…’til now”. Denver prepped me for a ton of things in life and was a great partner in crime for so much…but damnit, she never prepped me to not have her around. So many conversations that took place in the car, over dinner, on the beach…but nothing about the aftermath. I’ve been trying to figure out the “’til now” part, and I just think it means continuing to move forward and do my best.

It’s a sad, sad drive on a sad, dark and lonely night
I remember so clearly when you rode with me on the ride
And all the struggles and the laughs
I just refuse to put them all in the past
It’s a sad, sad drive when only one of us
Still has hope in his eyes

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Zoobilation 2014 might have ended at the Zoo, but it started at Chatham with us celebrating Gay Pride Weekend on Mass Ave

So, Wednesday night after the brewery, I did what I had done a thousand times over the last 3 years. I drove over to Den’s place (no parking on Mass Ave was open), and parked to walk to Chatham Tap. That bar is where I spent countless evenings with her talking about work, life, politics, and whatever else. It’s where we brainstormed strategy to exceed in events like Tip the Hat and Brackets for Good. It’s where we both wrote our SKL applications and had one another edit them. It’s the spot that I wrote my first guest blogs for Bloomerang and Twenty-Something Indy. It’s the spot where we ran into a million other people and had casual conversation with everyone who walked in who knew one of us (which was just about everyone it seemed). It’s the place where we both knew which three tables had access to the power outlets for our laptops and would rush towards them when we walked in. Hell, it was the spot of one of our very first dates back in 2013. It’s where I celebrated my divorce being finalized. It’s where she took me to drink when I decided to make Nine13 happen without co-founders. It was the place we went to celebrate the good and drown the bad.

Wednesday night, I ordered food and beer and I got caught up on email. I sat at the bar instead of one of those tables. I tried to bury the gut wrenching heartbreak that this is the new normal. And then I left, and sobbed the entire way back to my car. It was the longest walk down the Cultural Trail that I’ve ever experienced.

I miss my best friend. More than even I realize at times. And I can’t stay at this full throttle work pace forever to avoid the fact she’s not coming back. Because all of this work stuff…it’s stuff she would love and would be part of. It was a thought process I couldn’t avoid as I drove home on that sad, dark, and lonely night on I-65 from downtown.

I never agreed to like this new normal. And this week, I really don’t consent to it.

Hope to see some of you at Wheels & Wings this weekend.

-th