Friend #28: Nathan

College friend Nathan served as my host for my time in Denver.  When he lived in Ann Arbor, Nate lived in a fraternity which had a big house dog: a chocolate lab named Hershey.  Nate lives with a couple guys in a duplex in Denver within walking distance of Washington Park.  And he lives with Rambo:

Hm, I thought.  Living with guys in a house with a big labrador…..not much has changed!  But rather than being in school for engineering, Nathan is working for Lockheed Martin on their Orion program, which will replace the space shuttle.  He explained to me the possible security clearances a civilian can have and the possible ways of acquiring said clearances, something my dad (an aeronautical engineer who has the top level clearance) has tried to explain to no avail.  Nathan was extremely hospitable, and in addition to catching up around the house, we were able to grab some great local microbrews at the nearby but well-hidden Rackhouse Pub the night before I left town.

My memories of Nathan before this visit were more of an impression.  I know he’s extremely active and athletic.  Smart and capable.  A mischievous jokester.  Community service-oriented.  Mostly he was a friend of friends.  But we did both go on a Spring Break service trip to Jackson, Mississippi one year.  His car and my car (both Ford Taurus station wagons rented from the University) were caravanning partners.  And his car spun out right as we got onto the freeway, still in Ann Arbor.  My car was in front and I remember pulling over, getting out and running down the freeway in the snow (Michigan has a wacky schedule where we start Spring Break in February, when there’s still snow in Michigan).  The driver’s side door on the spun-out car was dented such that it made a LOT of wind noise the rest of the 17-hour drive down and the 17 hours back.  The same two cars with many of the same people both got speeding tickets just after entering Illinois on the return trip.  And those were the memorable moments just from the travels, not to mention the hours of labor in the rain-soaked Mississippi mud.

I feel like with our visit, I really got to know Nathan better, or at least see the aspects of his personality in action.  He is definitely active: plays soccer and kickball currently.  Totally jokes around with his roommates (one of whom has a knack for picking up free stuff on the street).  And he has something that is sadly so rare in people today: humility.  It was almost at the end of our time together that he mentioned in an offhanded way that he mentors an at-risk youth, even organized a camping and hiking trip for a bunch of coworkers and their mentees.  He’s the kind of guy that is completely unassuming, but will come up with great ideas and organize them, and all of a sudden, he’s quietly led a group of people into something great.  And where other people would be taking all the credit, Nate wouldn’t really even see himself as a leader.  But he is.  Hey, he’s one of the leaders and best and champions of the west!

Thanks to my Denver host with the most!

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