Part 1, Part 2, Part 3
There were two events that elevated Richard from "acquaintance" to "friend."
The first was a choir tour we went on together. It was spring of 2005, and the tour was to Washington DC and New York. Of all the tours I went on this one has the most fond memories. It was unique in that nearly all of my closest friends were on that tour.We had many adventures together--and the adventures we didn't actually have we wrote out in a comedic story passed between the guys bus and the girls bus featuring ourselves as main characters. Richard was certainly not the only one I spent time with, nor was my relationship with him the only precious one that was newly-forged on that tour. It was, however, the most life changing--though neither of us realized it at the time.
After tour Richard and I began to communicate regularly. Instant Messaging is a wonderful thing, no? By this time we were used to talking most days, and Richard introduced me to both Skype, and headsets--making communication much easier. I mention this because it brings me to the other event that had a long-term effect on our relationship.
One evening as Richard and I were talking I began to have some problems. My replies to him slowed, my speech slurred, and my words became nonsensical. Despite Richard's best attempts to "wake me up" my system continued to degenerate. After a few minutes I stopped responding at all. It was pretty late so Richard hesitated to call my family, but just as he'd made up his mind that I needed immediate help I began to come to. I was very weak and had no memory of the incident. Richard ordered me to get some food, suspecting (correctly) that the incident had been caused by my not having sufficient nourishment. I'd told him before that I thought eating was an annoying thing to have to do--I'd much rather continue working on whatever interesting project I had at hand than have to bother with something as mundane as mealtime. I wasn't being self-destructive, I genuinely forgot to eat when I was occupied with something more interesting.
Between that event, and some almost athsma-like breathing problems I'd had that summer, Richard was pretty concerned about me. Therefore he made me promise to send him a daily report on exactly what I ate and how much, how much sleep I got, and whether I'd had any breathing problems. I argued with him at first, but eventually gave in. I was positive that after the first month or so he'd get bored of it, decide I was doing just fine, and I'd be off the hook. Little did I realize how wrong I had him pegged. Not only did Richard continue to read the emails (despite, particularly in the beginning, the incredibly boring content), but he also paid attention and gave a thorough scolding if I neglected myself. How I would have laughed if anyone had told me that the emails would grow from boring reports to genuine letters and a year to date from the first report I'd have written almost 350 of those letters and that 5 years later I'd be pushing 1000!