Getting back on Facebook has been interesting for me. The thing about not having it is that I don’t have much connection to the pasts I’ve left behind. I don’t have photographs. I don’t have folks popping up in my newsfeed, reminding me of the days when I used to be a youth leader, softball hero, or when people called my “Flo.”
Getting dinner with Donna this week was fun, but it was also a bit of a rude awakening. When I last spent time with her, I was a shockingly different person. I rarely watched R-rated movies; I never cursed; I set my cruise control even in town, to ensure I wasn’t speeding. The first moment I realized the difference at dinner was when we were getting ready to order drinks. I’m not sure Donna would have gotten anything but water, had I not already ordered myself a glass of wine… then, when the server suggested we get a bottle for the both of us, I was like, “Absolutely!” I felt a bit of curious concern from across the table, as if I’d just supplied evidence of my degraded character, but, as always, that may have been my projection rather than the person sitting in front of me.
The wine ordering is oddly important to me… I think I learned this from the Hilsts and the Johnsons, but I think the point of alcohol is to recognize how wonderful and mysterious the world can taste. Of course, this isn’t always a right sort of spiritual reverance, but it can be. And when I’m getting dinner with a friend I haven’t seen in ages, I think we should drink good wine, and even indulge in dessert.
She didn’t feel that way. She got a bunless burger, which keeps some of the pounds away, sure… but it just didn’t seem like dinner with a friend. It didn’t feel like the evening of abandon I was seeking.
The first thing she wanted to know about in my life was also unfortunate. “Are you seeing anyone?” Now, okay, I get that’s an enormous part of people’s hopes for me, and it’s even a medium-sized portion of the hope I have for myself, but I also hate that people ask about that before anything else. Why don’t they ask if I’ve published my book yet? Why don’t they ask about travel or really anything? I haven’t seen Donna is like 6 years… why about the marriage?
So, we talked about that for a bit, and then we talked about Donna’s niece, who was in the youth group when I led… and we talked about her upcoming marriage, which has been upcoming for as long as I can remember. The last time I spoke with Niece’s father (Sir), he was talking about how in love she was, and I just wish there wasn’t so much emphasis on marriage. It makes me want to put my head through a wall.
Then, there was the talk about youth group. Donna went from one big church to another, which is fine. She went from leading one youth group to leading another, which is also fine. That just isn’t what I did. I think I struggle with a need to constantly be making progress. I don’t like to settle in, because I fear complacency… so it was weird to listen to her talk about the upcoming youth camp and how magical it is going to be, because I remember giving most of my life to church kiddos for a season. I remember the lock-ins and lessons, the Wednesday nights and service opportunities… and I can’t imagine much that I’d less like to be doing with my summer than returning to that time in my life.
So it was hard for me to settle in with Donna. It wasn’t as easy as I expected. We’ve lost the common ground we once had in many ways, and it felt achy, probably because I thought having dinner with Donna would be like having dinner with the Hilsts or the Johnsons. I thought it would be a “Stolen Dance,” but it was just a bit too disconnected, because I’ve changed.