Pete Jablonka: Family Support Story #10
Early on in my teaching career, I worked at a studio called Rising Star in Spotswood, New Jersey. While I was working there, I had a fair amount of students and this is really where I cut my teeth as a teacher. Some of the students I worked with while there faded into the past, and others have lingered on and are still a part of my life. One such student that I have kept close over the years is my dear friend Pete.
Pete first came to learn guitar at the studio, and when I left to pursue teaching as an independent, he insisted that I come to his place to continue working with him. So that’s what we did.
This point in both of our lives was approximately around 2002-2003. We were both in the calm before the storm as we would find out. Both of our lives changed very dramatically shortly after meeting and becoming friends, and that is a different story to tell... For now, I want to focus on the good work we accomplished.
So once we got into doing lessons at his place, we discovered that we had a lot in common, including deep love of the bands the Goo Goo Dolls and Bon Jovi. We both loved to work out, and he even started teaching me how to box, something which we actually kept up with for quite a while. We just generally had and have a great friendship chemistry. I can still remember nights in the summer going by his place after he got out of work and sitting by his pool doing outdoor guitar lessons and jams. I have really fond memories of these times.
We worked together for many years, and then we fell out of touch as both of our lives were in a bit of transformation with our family dynamics, but then we reconnected again. This time, we started meeting up at his job, where we would do guitar lessons on the lawn of his office complex or even sometimes in the utility closet down the hall from his office. We kept that up for a while, but then we eventually fell out of touch again when life got busy.
The next time we started making music, I was on the verge of a divorce. This was in 2012 or so, nearly ten years after we first started jamming together. This time we only slightly found time to connect and then it would be a few years again before we touched base again.
We still periodically check in on each other, and even did as recently as May 2019. We made plans to try to get together as soon as we can make happen, and I still intend to see this idea to fruition.
I often miss the times boxing, talking, jamming, and generally connecting. Pete came into my life right when my own family was imploding, and so he really stepped up into a role of significant importance in my life. He filled the void left by my father in those years of discord. While I did eventually reconnect to my father and we repaired our relationship before his death in 2015, Pete in a way became a father-like figure. When I was somewhat displaced from my home as my family lost our house, Pete would often send me home with clothes, shoes, vitamins...all these things to help me get by. His generosity really inspired me and it still influences me to this day. He was always amazingly supportive and even would often come to see my band, Amber Blues.
I don’t have any negative memories of my interactions with Pete. What I do have, is a mental playlist of stories and experiences all set to classic Bon Jovi tunes. That was always one of our major connection points. We both were and are somewhat super-fans. He introduced me to a lot of music, and he would constantly lend me CDs. He always fed me supportive resources. I like to think that I developed my own practices of unconditional generosity as a result of him imparting that upon me. It really made my life bearable at a time when I was losing my mind.
I like to think that I helped him out during his own tumultuous times, one of which are not mine to disclose here, as they aren't my stories and experiences. But I think he really got the same energy from me that I got with him. Helping him learn how to play guitar and sing often seemed cathartic for him, and a great way to plug into his creative side. He seemed to have always fancied himself a rock star at heart, and I could always tell that he loved it deeply, despite his penchant for talking crap on himself about his playing ability. He had the spirit, and so I encouraged him as much as he encouraged me.
Sometimes in life, you meet people under circumstances based on business, but life can turn all that around by putting all parties into situations where it becomes a matter of keeping one’s sanity as a team effort. A karmic connection, where without each other being part of the mix, neither would have come out as unscathed. Friendship can endure over the years, even with sizable brakes occasionally as a factor. The biggest lesson learned: Generosity, Kindness, and openness are all transferable qualities. It’s the essence of the idea “Be the change you want to see in the world,” and I think that a large part of my demeanor and the quality of my character was forged in my relationship with my friend, Pete.
So this blog goes out to you, my dear friend. “Blood on blood, one on one, and we’ll be standing here till kingdom come; like blood on blood”.. -Hope to see you soon.