He couldn't have been more different than me in high school. He was outgoing and popular. We went to the same school and the same church, attended the same youth camps and revivals. He came with friends. I don't think I ever met his parents. My family was at the church every time they unlocked the doors. So much so that they finally just gave my Dad a key.
He was in the theater group and on the year book staff. He had a shock of white in the back of his otherwise dark hair about the diameter of a quarter. No dye would stick to it and he couldn't cut his hair to hide it. It made him different and easy to recognize from the back in the school hallways. Being his friend made me feel more popular, even though I really never fit in with the popular crowd I so wanted to be a part of.
After graduation, my church attendance gradually dwindled. I think he went away to college, so I wouldn't have seen him there anyway. He became a lawyer. I became a homosexual. And while those two things don't seem to be related, they did shape our lives and the men we would become.
He's married and has two grown kids. I'm not allowed to marry, despite our wedding rings, and have one growing kid.
We worked an awards ceremony together in our senior year. He was on the stage, doing a hilarious show. So confident. So funny. I was in the orchestra, running the sound system. He kept swinging the microphone by the cord (yes, microphones used to have cords) and causing it to short out. I kept handing him new mics and he kept swinging the mics and they kept going out. Don't remember how often it happened. Maybe once or twice, but I remember it like the scene from Father of the Bride when Spencer Tracy's pants stuck to the floor. I felt bad about it until later that night when my Dad explained that it was his fault because he kept swinging them around like a fan blade in front of his face. All part of his act, but too much for the old sound system that my typing teacher had borrowed.
I didn't hear from him for 30 years. Had forgotten about him. Like everyone else from the distant past, he remained in the distant past for good reason. That past was painful and it was dealt with. And, I had realized that as painful as it was, it was what made me who I am today. I would not be me if not for it. And, I'm pretty darn happy with who I am, so I had to accept the pain of the past instead of continuing to hate it and fight about it.
Now, through the miracle of facebook (may not sound like it, but that's just dripping with sarcasm) he has returned. I think he was a little offended when I told him I thought he'd grow up to be gay. After all, he was so dramatic and outgoing.
Now, he's back. And, he has questions.
I wondered if I should answer. Should I bother? Does it matter?
Actually, it does. In some small way, it's like facing down the demon of the past. A statement that this is who I am. This is what I believe. There is no shame.
I've only recently come to accept some of that stuff as just the way it was for me. I've forgiven those that called me names. Forgotten the hard things that were said. So now, I can write to him about them from a different perspective. Not so much angry about what happened to me and more willing to report on it from a distance. More willing to see it for what it is...the life of a person who is real and has been true to himself, despite the words that were said and the deeds that were done. Less of a story about personal hurt and more of a story about what it was like.
And, this blog has been a big part of that. I can write about myself and what happened to me and what is happening to me now with confidence. Partly because I know I can express it in an interesting way. And, because I know that I'm not unique. Each of us has gone through one or more trials and while mine might have been different in circumstance, each of our stories is about how we became who we are today. I can tell that without getting angry about it. Anymore. And, maybe, if I'm lucky, he'll share his story with me.
And, you get a double dose of way back Wednesday today.
This morning, I taught my daughter to make pancakes.
I don't remember when I learned to make pancakes. I do remember telling my Mom one day that I always burned the first one of the batch. And, she said "honey, everybody burns the first pancake of the batch." I don't usually burn the first one anymore, but before she started, I did tell Sydney that there was no disgrace in burning the first one.
We greased the griddle. I still make pancakes on my Mom's cast iron griddle that I borrowed in 1982 (possession is 9/10's of the law, Mom). I showed her how to pour the batter so it didn't drip and how to watch the pancakes for bubbles around the edge that indicate it's time to turn it. I showed her how to wiggle the spatula as you push it under the cake and how to hold the spatula so it is almost parallel to the griddle. And, how to flip them without leaving a stream of batter all across the griddle and onto the stove.
She learns fast and was very proud that she didn't burn one. She made very little mess and the cakes were delicious.
If only I could get her that interested in cleaning up.
Take care and have a great Wednesday. Lane