Hi! This post is coming to you clear from Henderson, Nevada. My name is Zachariah. I will be your guest poster this evening. Just sit back and enjoy the ride--it's liable to be long and a little bumpy.
My story begins, at least insofar as it is relevant to the Nears, back in 1999. See, that's when Christopher Russell and I first crossed paths. (Happy 10th, dude!) We were in Central America when it happened. It wasn't long before we were fast friends. That's right, we became fast friends fast!
While we were there, we wrote a few songs together. Well, let's be honest--Chris wrote the songs while I was learning how to master the Rubik's Cube. One of those songs was about "Mahana you ugly!" Another of those songs had a Flintsones motif, but that's not really important to my story.
See, the Mahana song is important because it's going to fast-forward us a couple years. Picture Chris and me (if you don't know what I look like, picture someone with features of Mark Walberg and Jerry O'Connell, add a little bit of weight (the muscle's still there, it's just somewhat hidden) and then change the features to look more like mine and voila! there I am) in Utah County. I lived in Branbury in Provo, and he lived near Geneva Road in Orem, though you wouldn't know it from how often he was hanging out with us in Branbury. (We even forged him a fake parking pass.)
Anyway, we learned a number of Chris' songs and then we went around to random girls' apartments and performed the songs for them. There was a third member of our trio back then, but he ended up taking the village bicycle for a ride and never coming back.
So one day this third member and I had an itch to go sing to some girls. Problem was, Chris was not around. With his blessing, we went without him. Well who do you think was behind the first door we knocked on? That's right--a girl named Faith who worked as a bagger at Macey's and occasionally comments on this blog. My memory is a bit foggy here--I don't remember if her roommate was there when we got there or if she came in a little later. What I do know is that we were able to perform and that Faith's roommate was Valerie! (I don't normally use so many exclamation points when I write, but this story has me really excited.)
Here she is:Yes, this is the same Valerie that you know and love. Turns out her last name wasn't Near back then. It was Liebnewski. I don't know how to spell it, but I know it's Polish. Actually, I don't know that either, I'm just guessing it is. We were intrigued because she had a -ski last name but was half Argentine. I guess you could say she was Argen. Her hair was a lot longer back then, but she still had that same sarcastic smile. She was also in my humanities class, though she already had a buddy in the class. His name was Zach, too, if I recall.
Fast forward a little bit. Remember, Chris still has not met Valerie. (Just in my story, not in really life, silly.) When we saw him again he wanted a report on our little trip. Well, we had to take him back to introduce him to Valerie. Am I getting the details right? Again, I am a little fuzzy on this part, but what I do know is that a couple weeks later (Valentine's Day), after he'd only met her once or twice, briefly, we were getting ready for a little something called the Branbury Ball (huge dance in Mike & Leo's apartment--only really cool people were invited) and Chris didn't have a date. His mind had kept wandering back to Valerie and he decided he'd take the plunge. He invited her to the ball. She said yes.
This is the two of them after they'd met. I don't mean to spoil the ending for you, but in this picture they're married.
So back to our story. Chris and Valerie had a grand old time at the ball--in fact, you could say they had a ball at the ball--and they wanted to keep seeing each other. After some great times, some not so great times, and a few ambiguous statements (she loves me? or she loves this? this conversation is over? or our relationship is over?) they decided they'd better not spend the rest of their lives apart, or in other words, that they'd better spend the rest of their lives together.
Well, what happens when two people love each other? We learned this in elementary school. First comes love, then comes marriage, then wham bam--
Fast forward and we got ourselves a cute little ice-cream-eating, finger-licking kid. And that, my friends, is where today's story begins. (Lengthy introduction, I know--I told you it would be a long ride.)
So, you want to know something interesting about Brendan? He likes ice cream. Yeah, I know, what kid doesn't, right? But that's the kind of material Chris gave me as he briefed me for this post. I'm afraid I am going to have to depart from the script a little . . .
Now Brendan's much more fun when New Hampshire's got sun
And he can go outside and play;
But those months are few when there are things to do
Because the warmth, it doesn't stay.
And though we're told that the winter's too cold,
And it is coming much too soon;
Brendan's got one thought--right now it's much too hot
So he eats his ice cream without a spoon.
Although the summer won't linger, at least it's cold on his finger
Something we relish when we're young;
There are benefits besides, the ice cream cools his insides
And it tastes so sweet on his tongue.
Not too much later, still far from the equator
The Nears went to get sundaes;
They left before dark to take advantage of the park
Where Brendan plays and plays.
Brendan could teeter, life couldn't be sweeter
But he soon realized something was amiss;
It didn't need to be spoken, the see-saw was broken
There was no totter without Chris!
The parlor where they ate gave a special rate
All-you-can-eat toppings for free;
They got fudge and cherries, gummy bears, and strawberries
They scarfed it down with glee.
But before too long they could tell something was wrong
Perhaps all the toppings were a mistake;
From their faces you could tell they weren't feeling well
And they each had a tummy ache.
It was time to drive back so they could clean off the plaque
And get the little one to bed;
They were traveling thus when they began to discuss
All the books that Valerie had read.
Ms. Valerie Near already this year
Has proven she's a book lover;
She's been through seventy, that's right, seventy!
And read them all cover to cover.
Catching Fire she really admired
And its predecessor, Hunger Games;
There were many more, in fact several score
But I don't know their names.
Before I conclude, while you're still in the mood
I've got one more yarn to spin;
This one's about when the coloring books come out
In that little place called Berlin.
Now Brendan's only two, but if you could see what he could do
You'd see he really shines;
Because despite his youth, I swear this is the truth
He can stay within the lines.
Brendan picks the hue, his daddy gets the cue
And colors within the borders;
So despite Brendan's age, the colors get put on the page
Because Chris is good at following orders.
Comment freely--as Dr. Seuss said, "Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind."