Sunday, January 22, 2023

The Firm And Waiting For The Deal

 One of the hardest periods of my adult employed life was September to December 2005.  The period was the immediate period post failure of the entity known as The Firm, a real estate business I and my friend Himself had founded.

The Firm had been in business for around 17 months, starting in April of the previous year when I had cast aside my former employment in the Biopharmaceutical industry on what then amounted to a dream and a prayer, neither of which was terribly well thought out at the time.  My reasons were, at the time, rational - a 120 mile a day round trip to work, exhaustion, and a friend who was obviously successful - but as with many (most) businesses, reasons to do something are not reasons things succeed.

And so, on August 2nd 2005, the company was dissolved.

I had to scramble after that, as I had a family, an increased mortgage payment from when I started at the Firm, a month's worth of health care, and almost no savings. Fortunately 2005 was not later in my life and a job was procured within a month of my firing of myself.  In what was perhaps some of the best evidence I had of God's sense of humor, I went back to work at slightly less salary and a lower title, doing the same job.  Literally in 1.5 years, I was back where I had started or even a little behind.

But there still were "The Deals".

The Deals were those remaining ongoing projects that we had when we had dissolved the company.  Himself had kept them as he was going to continue on in real estate.  The agreement was that anything resulting from those deals would be split between the three of us that had been at the company, since we had all worked to get them to that point.  

And so, outside of the trying to reconcile myself to going back to something I thought I had left forever, I continued to follow up on The Deals.

We  could have used the money, of course.  Draining one's savings and then starting over is nerve wracking (and I do not recommend it at all).  And so I kept checking in with the energy of a chipmunk wrangling an acorn. 

Once upon a time Himself and I had spoken literally every day.  We had, at one time, a deep relationship that had spanned 12 years prior to starting The Firm - our wives were best friends, and thus so were we.  All of that had been reduced to this, periodic phone calls checking in, couched in the language that we had used to use  - "How are you doing?  How are things going now?" but always with background of "And how are the deals going?"

It was not my best moment by a long shot.

In December, the one deal that had survived closed.  True to his word, Himself brought the check by to the house, dropping it off with The Ravishing Mrs. TB while I was away at work.  The money, as I recall, was used to pay a periodic recurring bill immediately.

The following January we spoke again.

 I can remember scene well:  it was overcast and I was crossing the bridge over the river before driving through the fields on the way to work.  This was a drive I had made for 5 months now and had become familiar; I would often talk on the phone to pass the time.

We caught up  that last time on the phone.  The Deals were no longer part of the conversation of course, other than a thanks for dropping the check off.  We chatted a bit about how our lives were going; he was, as he had always been, confident about the future and what was to come.  We said our goodbyes and hung up. I remember this because I can recall to this day the precise geographic place where he told me that "things were going fine".

And that, as it turned out, was the last time we ever spoke to each other.

I can go over any number of ways I failed in this last part of the relationship, but the single biggest thing that comes to mind was simply my interest only in the fact of the money.  Yes, the need was there and yes, the need was great - but there was a level of trust which for many years before I had simply given that I now suddenly withdrew when the money was involved.  I had no evidence he would not keep his word, yet acted as if he would not.  His situation was no better than mine in terms of finances, yet I acted as if I was the only one that was suffering and had needs.

The silence that followed those years that ended, 4 years later, in me sitting in a coffee shop for a meeting that never happened (another story, of course), should not have surprised me at the time.  I had laid the groundwork for that moment carefully, emphasizing the only aspect of the relationship that was temporal and would pass and ignoring the larger realities of what had been a deep friend and the realities of his own need as well.  

The bitterness I felt at that moment was really a brew of my own making.


  1. It has always been my opinion that friendship is like everything else. simply a matter of timing. They require the right set of circumstances that can vary but will more often than not will fade away when the circumstances stop aligning. There are only so many threads any person can keep attached, especially in today's world. Sometimes the threads align once again and sometimes they don't but I still remember them as friends, even the ones I know from the past as having a weakness.

    1. PP, I have come to find that you are correct. I write that with a bit of sadness, as I wonder if it was always true. One gets the impression that once upon a time, friendships were more enduring things, perhaps if for no other reason that people were much more geographically "tied down".

      I think the strands can be reknit, though my experience to date is that it is not a terribly successful venture. Even if people have just drifted apart, the changes in that time make it difficult to just merge back together.

  2. Anonymous5:55 AM

    $$$ changes things. Money is used in exchange for goods and services we use in everyday life. The lack of it causes anxiety, as if the air we breathe is no longer there.

    PioneerPreppy above makes some good good points about friendships fading away. I've experienced the same as well.

    1. Especially money we feel entitled to (whether we are actually entitled to it or not).

      I wonder if the fading of friendships has always been this way, or it just feels more pronounced now in an age of technology and mobility.

  3. It's never an easy thing to see where you jumped the tracks. Especially if you have a conscience. That's a tough spot.

    "If you live long enough, you will have regrets. The ones that nag at you the most are the ones you realize you had a choice in." That quote is from a tv movie based on a Robert Parker book. It rang so true, I had to pause the show and write it down.

    1. That is a good quote STxAR.

      One of the things I wish I had realized earlier was to what extent I actively made choices in situations where either I felt I was not making choices or I felt like they were made for me (they are never made for us; ultimately we either agree with them and do not contest them or do not agree and fight them).

  4. Excellent introspection - always use to improve, never to kick yourself.

    1. Thanks John - in my case sadly, I have raised kicking myself to a work of art.

    2. Remember, if our friends talked to us like we talk to ourselves, would we allow them to be friends?

  5. TB, your self-reflection is admirable. Can I tell you a story?

    We moved every five years during the first half of our marriage, and I (unfortunately) grew accustomed to saying goodbye to friends. Truth be told, though, somehow I learned at a young age to hold friendships very loosely. It's not a great trait, I can see now at the ripe old age of 63.

    Now, 23 years living in the same town, I have lots of acquaintances, and almost never run errands without seeing at least one familiar face in this small town. But close friends? Confidants? I can count them on a fraction of the fingers of one hand. And one of those lives in another state.

    the story...

    Thirteen years ago a "best friend" and I drifted apart - while neither of us had moved, life stages just took us in different directions. About five years ago a mutual friend (one she met more recently than I had) brought us back together. At the time, I kind of resented what felt like "match-making", but I am truly thankful for it now. We might have had some slightly awkward moments at first (though they were short-lived), and even offered our apologies when we each came to understand we had inflicted wounds unawares - neither intending to. We didn't have to go into detail about the wounds, or offer explanations or feel defensive - it seemed to be enough to know the other was sorry for any part in our lost time together and that we each took responsibility for it.

    Anyway... a couple of years ago she & her hubs moved nearly an hour away, but we're both more committed than ever to keep the friendship alive. If weather permits, we're meeting halfway and having lunch together on Friday. And then lunch next week with mutual friends. Sometimes months pass when we don't see each other or talk, but I think our friendship is deeper now because we regret the years we spent apart. It's an interesting thought that our friendship might not be so dear right now if none of that had happened...

    1. Sigh. I'm so sorry to have written another tome. I think I've done worse though. I know at least once I've run out of allowable space before I finished all I thought I needed to say...

    2. Becki - I welcome your "Tomes".

      That sounds like a wonderful thing that your friend did - and it worked out best in the end. I have thought, occasionally, about contacting Himself, yet at the same time find myself reluctant to. In both cases we can easily find each other on social media, but have not. In my experience, if someone wants to find you or be found, they will do so. If they have not, there likely is a reason.

  6. PioneerPreppy really said it best. Friendships really are like the right wood, the right conditions and the right spark all happening at once, but change just one of those things, and the flames disappear quite fast.

    Combine that with a relationship built upon money, or with money its goal, and I guess it was probably just a matter of time. I learned a long time ago to give money with the expectation that I will never see it again. If I do, it is a grateful surprise. But when I don't, it doesn't sour the relationship nearly as much as it would have if I expected it. That has served me well over the years though I don't think it saved any friendships because still, other conditions eventually changed.

    1. He did, Ed. If I look back at the friendships that stayed and the ones that drifted away, they were all about the timing. One year earlier, one year later, we likely would have never met.

      I have had a lot of time to think about The Firm over the years. There was very much an element that it in some ways extended a relationship that was changing, and money became the last thing holding it together.

      I, too, give money with the expectation I shall never see it again.


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