Every week, The Friendship Files features a conversation between The Atlantic’s Julie Beck and two or more friends, exploring the history and significance of their relationship.
This week she talks with two men who have a tradition of taking an annual international trip to see a soccer game—they’ve been going for more than 20 years now, sometimes alone, sometimes with their families, and in recent years, with a large extended group of friends. They discuss their college meet-cute and the origins and expansion of the soccer trip.
Sean Kennedy, 55, the vice president of an e-commerce company who lives in Etoile, Texas
Brock Kwiatkowski, 53, a planner for civil-engineering projects who lives in Bath, Maine
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Julie Beck: You two met in an elevator—basically like a rom-com. Set that scene for me.
Brock Kwiatkowski: It was in college, at the Circle K International convention in Boston in 1986. Circle K is sponsored by Kiwanis; it's the collegiate-level service organization. I'm walking to the elevator, the doors open up, and there's Sean and his friend holding almost an entire bar's worth of alcohol bottles, of all different kinds, shapes, and sizes, plus a cart. I walked in and said, “These are my people.” And they were.
Sean Kennedy: The funny thing about that trip was there were supposed to be all sorts of outdoor activities going on—the Freedom Trail walk-around, sailing around the harbor. But a hurricane came rolling in that week. Pretty much everything got canceled. And boy, you want to put a bunch of college kids from around the world in a hotel for a week and not let them outdoors, you know what's going to happen. So we went liquor shopping. We had a bit of a cat-and-mouse game going with the hotel security, who were extremely kind and patient gentlemen. We'd go to a room, we'd enjoy each other’s company, and then there would be a knock on the door and a couple of guys in nice jackets would ask us to move to another room. This went on for a couple of days.