Joseph William Perry

Hesitant about Reunions

About five or six years ago I discovered a reunion site for alumni of the overseas school I went to back in tenth and eleventh grades. That's mid-sixties for anyone who wants to do math. I was fascinated. I put my name and email on the list and started to get connected with some of my old friends and friends of friends. Before I knew it a group was organizing a reunion in Savannah. I was on the list so I got all the mail; even got some special messages from special friends beseeching me to come. I pleaded, "no money, no time, gotta work" and didn't go. But after the reunion I'm sure I was the first one checking out the promised photo albums, squinting at the pictures, wishing they weren't so fuzzy so I could see which of my classmates I could recognize.

Meanwhile I kept making contact by email with one and another of my old friends. I swapped letters with Becky Turner, Nanette Dice, Martin Scotland. I confessed to Lynn Rooney that I had had a mighty big crush on her. Finally connected with Letha Jo Wheeless (wish I hadn't been immune to her warmth and vivaciousness back in school days). And Jim Schwartz, we got in touch and stayed in touch. Then Jim began to turn into a real reunion promoter. He was living in Maryland and he got it into his head that he should host a mini-reunion at his place. I was being tugged but I resisted. After all we were too broke (a good excuse), it was too far, and besides I had to work. So, once again, I found myself wistfully viewing the online album of reunion photos and staying in touch by email.

That was less than a year ago. In the meantime Jim Schwartz is saying he's going to move to Nashville. Hey, he takes his job with him; he's not tied down to a location. And first thing you know he has bought a house and announced that, after closing on the house and doing some fixing up, he's going to sure enough host a reunion here. He's just thirty minutes away and there is no way I can avoid this one. I'm beginning to fear my unresolved teen angst is going to hunt me down like one of those predator thingies on Star Trek.

So, let's see, what do I do now? Gotta talk to someone. Emailed my buddy Rob. He's had pastoral training. Said I'm afraid my old chums will find out I'm a ne'er-do-well. He said just be yourself. I shot back, "Pat answer." Hey, I didn't want an answer; I wanted a friend. (Talk to you later Rob.) Talked to my friend Randy. Told him I was going to my death this weekend. "What, huh?" Randy tries, he does. Yeah, something in me has got to die or be killed this Friday night. He was sympathetic 'cause he could see I was disturbed, but he hadn't a clue as to what I was experiencing. I said, pray for me.

Now then, two days to go—this is where the insight starts flowing. First, I had to admit that I am more concerned about what I think of myself than about what others think of me. I'm more afraid of being humiliated in front of myself than in front of others. I should have admitted that; I've been saying it for five years now. Now the clincher.

About twenty-four hours prior, even more lucidity—if I go to the get-together I'm going to love these people and they might love me . . . and then they will know that I don't have anything but love. They will find out I have no prizes won by genius, no mansions earned by arduous effort, no hit songs, no progeny even. They will know I have nothing but love, unearned, undeserved.

Then, horror of horrors, they will see I never really wanted anything but love. I'm shocking myself here, but I don't care; and I'll bet you don't either.

So I went and hugged and got hugged. I laughed and got laughed at. I almost immediately came right out of myself and am not sorry at all. Then the next night Leslie went with me, as planned, and everybody liked her and she had a great time. She was patient while we gathered at the yearbook table gabbing about people she never heard of. Before we left there was a lot more hugging and even some kissing. And before we left I whispered, 'love you' for my two favorites. (You know who you are.) I have always wanted to be the kind of person who could feel love and affection, and then express it unashamedly.

I'm coming clean now . . . we're not as poor as we look . . . also some people (besides my mother) think I'm no slouch in certain obscure fields of endeavor. But coming even cleaner . . . I gotta tell ya. It's true I don't have anything but love and I'm not embarrassed about it, even in front of myself, because love, giving and receiving it shamelessly, pouring it out like communion wine, letting it flow like the River Jordan and the Sea of Galilee, stirring it up and sloshing it around like . . . [insert simile here] . . .

Yeah, anyway, love is all I ever wanted and hopefully I'll remember next time and won't get scared. So I'll see y'all soon ... and thanks for the love. It really hits the spot.

Addendum:

Sunday mornings Mark and Elizabeth sometimes need a wake-up call. I like to pretend Beth is my daughter and Mark is my son-in-law (or vice-versa), "Up up up and see the moon. Going to church? If you two are not too late I'll wait for you."

This morning they arrive in plenty of time for communion. Beth is glowing.

Copyright © 2003 Joseph Perry, Greyfort Publishing

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