Josh Zazulia (JZ) was Miles’ best friend in college and served as ‘Best Buddy’ when Emily and Miles tied the knot. When the devastating news of Emily’s cancer broke he put the accrued airline miles from his work as a consultant to altruistic use by covering the Bennett’s most recent flight to Memphis. The following excerpt is a JZ original. It will make you laugh. It will make you cry. Read the whole thing, I promise you will not regret it. It will make your day.
It was around October of 2004. The Claremont McKenna College annual formal dance, Monte Carlo, was happening at the end of the month. I was happily taken. My best friend, Miles, was not. Not really the Playboy type, Miles didn’t talk about girls much. I was pretty pumped to have two dates.
Quick little side story for context: Our Junior year in college Miles and I lived in Benson dorm. For the first time in college we weren’t living together. To ease the pain, we got singles right next to each other. So close, yet so far. Yet, so close. We were a 5 step, 12 second walk away from each other. Entire conversations were had from our separate rooms, through open doors. We treated the setup more like a two bedroom apartment with a common area between us. Other people living in the dorm didn’t matter. And, at this point in time, I don’t think I had ever received an email from Miles. In my life.
It was around October of 2004. Inbox (1). Mtaylor06@claremontmckenna.edu has sent firstname.lastname@example.org a message. I wish I remembered the password to my school account; boy would I love to read this email again. Instead, I must paraphrase…
Subject: Hey, it’s Miles Taylor (your best friend from across the hall, sorry if my loud typing right now is annoying you, I’m kinda nervous).
Email: Hey man. Again, this is Miles. We roomed together the first couple years of college. Um, well, hmmm, ok, well, yea, so, um. How about the Steelers this year, championship contenders for sure right?! Yea, I think so too. So that stupid freaking formal Monte Carlo dance is coming up soon, huh? So lame. Hey, did you get the last few pages of Chapter 3 for Econ? Kinda confusing, right? Emily Bennett and I have been hanging out together. She’s cool. Was thinking about asking Emily to the dance. Reaction?
Yea man, just wanted to say what’s up. See you at practice. Stretch together?
-Miles Taylor (freshman and sophomore year roommate…and best friend…I think)
I paraphrase. I exaggerate. I’ve been told I’m dramatic, too.
I was clearly outraged. Not only was Miles trying to ruin my perfect night – hottie gf on one arm, hottie bf on the other – he was doing it with my pride kryptonite. OMG.
Second little side story for context: Miles’ wonderful wife, Emily Bennett Taylor – yea, we dated. I guess that probably depends on who you ask. If you ask me, it was one of the most intense three and a half week relationships of my life. My therapist still tells me it doesn’t count as a “relationship”. Details. If you ask Emily, it was simply a means to an end. Not until many years later did I realize how Emily used me to get to Miles. I’d be angry if I wouldn’t have done the same thing. When she used to call me Miles, I just assumed she got us confused like everybody else at Claremont.
Back to Miles’ email – I wasn’t mad. In actuality, I couldn’t care less. I started to yell my response back to Miles across the hall (it was such a long walk over there)…”Yo Miles, sounds good…” Then I realized the sensitivity of the topic. I mean, I got an email. I imagine it was flagged – “High Priority.” So I got up and begrudgingly walked the 5 steps/12 seconds to Miles’ open door.
“Hey man – why are you sweating so much? Got your email. Sounds good. Let’s do a nice dinner together somewhere, yea? Nice, I’m pumped. It’s not hot in here. I don’t get why you’re sweating. Later dude.” And, because I’m a great friend, I finished with some pearls of wisdom. “Just be careful with this one – I don’t think she has the greatest taste in men.”
It was around October of 2004…when the romance began. With the approval of his best friend, Emily’s plan came to fruition. Miles and I were solid on our word too – we went to the food court at Montclair Plaza and told those lucky ladies they could get whatever they wanted. And they weren’t limited to just one fast food joint either; pick and choose your favorites from any, we told them. It was the annual Claremont formal, the credit card was out.
Soon “Miles and Josh” was replaced with “Miles and Emily.”
Despite moving to different parts of California after college, Miles and I remained close. While ecstatic for my best friend, jealousy came to a head during my wedding speech where emotions (and Absolute) took over the mic as I publicly declared that “deep down I was envisioning the ceremony ending with ‘I present to you – Mr. and Mr. Miles and Joshua Taylor instead of Mr. and Mrs. Miles and Emily Taylor’.” The truth behind that statement is irrelevant. I couldn’t have been happier for my best friends – Miles and Emily – on that special day.
Since the wedding two years ago, I’ve been privileged to become even closer with the unit that is Miles and Emily. Phone calls have become conference calls. Emails can no longer include curse words because they are blocked by Emily’s work. Visits are arranged through Emily. Relationship advice now has a male’s (Emily) and female’s (Miles) perspective. I certainly don’t feel like I lost my best friend. I feel like I now get a version of Miles on steroids. And, on top of that, added a new best friend. Net, net, I’m up 2.
I think people secretly fear the day that their friends tie the knot. Marriage license becomes synonymous with “You’re really far down on the Priority List license.” I’ve never felt that way. In the last few months I’ve been fortunate enough to work in the Los Angeles area and spend more in person time with Miles and Emily. I look forward to each dinner we share like my niece looks forward to watching Dora the Explorer.
I leave each dinner on a high. In its truest form, Miles and Emily bring out the best version of themselves. I don’t look forward to the man trips sans Emily (sorry guys); rather, I desperately look forward to more dinners with the both of them. More time to reminisce about the college days, to talk about life now, and to talk about the future to come. And, relentlessly trying to convince Emily that a SUPER household with two married couples, 8 kids (2 for me, you do the math), 4 dogs, 17 goldfish, 5 snuggies, and a shake weight is the path of the future.
Miles and Emily have a fluidity to them that is uncanny. A coolness to how they interact and a calmness to how they approach their lives together. Above all, the love they share for each other is transparent during the most mundane of moments – the simple peck on the lips just because, the Emily to Miles ass slap following a Steeler touchdown or the contagious Emily laugh after one of Miles’ witty comments. I’m no relationship connoisseur (shocking, right?) but their sparkle/connection/love is stuff of legends. It’s amazing. It’s refreshing. It’s admirable. It’s exciting. It makes me hopeful. It makes me happy.
It was around October of 2004. Inbox (1). Mtaylor06@claremontmckenna.edu has sent email@example.com a message. It turns out Emily has better taste in men than I had originally thought. I’m glad Monte Carlo went well that night. I feel lucky to have you two in my life. I feel privileged to be part of your team. I’m prepared to fight with you guys. I look forward to our futures together.
Loving the present. Looking forward to the future.