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Writer’s Note – I’ve been on an extended hiatus for well over three months. So, I first want to say “Thank You” to all of you who continue to stop by and check out my blog. This blog and several to follow have been accumulating in my head for quite a while.
As ideas tend to do, the “seed” grows and flourishes. Sometimes, however, that growth can begin to spiral into something much larger than intended. In the case of our weekend reunion, the simple idea of a “reunion” started to get out-of-control. Fraternity brothers – and their wives (and children) – were signing on by the dozens, or so it seemed. Guys who I had not thought of – or thought much of – for years were RSVPing for a weekend that was originally intended to be somewhat low-key. The seed, it seemed, had become an overgrown weed.
As the November weekend grew closer, anticipation, excitement, and trepidation also grew. You have to remember that although I keep up with many of these guys via email, texting, and Facebook, I have not seen – face-to-face -many of them in a dozen years, or more. And I was not the only one feeling anxious about returning to the scene of many a college hijinks. Most of us are in our 50s now, so the thought of getting blasted, smoking a stogie or two, or staying up all night reliving old, old memories was not what several of my closer friends signed on for.
I even got a little concerned when Greg sent out an updated listing of attendees. “Oh, Lord!” I thought. I really don’t want to see that asshole, again. There wasn’t much I could do at that point. I had to tell myself that I was not that same person, almost 30 years ago…a very young and immature guy trying to figure out who I was, playing a part, wanting to fit in, but still be true to myself. I put a lot of those thoughts out of my head as the reunion weekend approached. Still, old habit die hard, and old habits of the mind tend to live on in those creases of your brain that have remained closed for years.
|Two generations of “brothers” reliving the past.|
Yet, at the same time, I was excited to rekindle some of those old friendships, to be part of that tribe once again, and to thank all those guys who had sent me well wishes and encouragement after my diagnosis in 2013. It meant a heck of a lot to me that those guys – now, men – who haven’t seen me in years wanted to reach out and support me during this new journey in my life.
As the saying goes, “The best laid plans…often go awry.” In my case, it was a set of circumstances that seem almost comical now, but were not at the time. Two days before Vicki and I are to board a plane for Tampa, I get a call from my sister. My dad is in the hospital and is about to get fitted for a pacemaker. He passed out in the Publix check-out line and, after having several tests run in the emergency room, the doctors determined that he needed a pacemaker. Incredible…I had to let everyone know that I may, or may not, be in Gainesville for the weekend. At the same time, it was a blessing that we were already scheduled to come to Tampa.
My dad ended up being okay…Installing a pacemaker is almost an out-patient procedure nowadays, but we remained in Tampa an extra day to make sure he was okay. While I missed out on some of the Friday-night festivities, we did finally make it to Hogtown the following morning to tailgate before the game and catch-up during the game with the guys I truly wanted to see.
After the game – another loss during a miserable season – we made our way to my old fraternity house. That anxiousness, which had been replaced by adrenaline over the past several days, began to creep back into my psyche. Some it was warranted – those guys who were assholes in college were still assholes in adulthood – but I also met up with guys who I wanted to see, and we were genuinely glad to see one another. That made all the turmoil of the past several days worth it. My biggest disappointment was that I did not get to hangout with them longer.
So, can you really go home again? It’s hard to say for sure…I don’t think I had enough time to feel like I was “home” in the true sense of that word. At the same time, however, I have moved on with my life and I don’t have regrets with any place that I called “home” (even for a short period). While it felt good to reconnect with my college friends, I was definitely not home. I felt like a visitor the entire time I was there – and that includes hanging at my parents’ house. My home is here with my family and my dog. This is where my heart belongs.