As a fan of looking back and remembering things (that sounds like a facebook group) at the end of the year, I am doubly excited because not only is it the end of a calendar year, it’s also the end of a decade, which means twice the excitement for people who like to remember things categorically by year.
I’ve also started getting my thoughts together for the 2009 Golden Tamale Awards, which will probably be my next post. A little hook there to keep both of my readers intrigued.
Last night I was driving home from a baby shower thinking about how much my life has changed over the past decade. For instance, a decade ago I would have never imagined typing that last sentence. Of course, I would have never imagined typing for enjoyment. Or Blogging. Of course back then blogging was called keeping a diary, so I had an excuse. Whatever. Let me try that again.
Last night I was driving home from a baby shower thinking about how much my life has changed over the past decade. Let me explain. My friend Dainty and his wife are due in February, and his sister decided to invite a bunch of his guy friends over (her friends are all up north) for a baby shower. It was actually pretty fun. Evidently baby showers are comprised of playing games, which when given a dose of male competitiveness, which can be pretty fun. In between all of the trying to guess which candy bar was crushed up into a diaper games, we had some great times catching up on the past, shooting the breeze about politics, football and why the red sox suck.
There were several surreal moments throughout the night though, where I would just stand back and kind of laugh. I thought of the summer where I met Dainty and his sister, and what we used to talk about back then. Dainty and I would get into heated arguments over what band was better, Led Zeppelin or the Who (I still hold that the Who are the greatest classic rock band of all time).
We parted ways during college, traveling very different directions in life, with contact at a minimum. Dainty became of those people that would manage to call the day after I had discovered a folder of pics from back in the day on my computer. We would catch up for a while, wait too long to say hola again, and start the process all over again. And while the process remained the same, the conversations have changed drastically.
Ten years ago we were wrapped up in how terrible the latest Bad Religion album was, and we were trying to out music-snob each other by trying to introduce obscure bands into the other’s playlist. For the record, Dainty was the first person to mention Jack Johnson, Snow Patrol and Lupe Fiasco to me, and I brought him Matisyahu, Kings of Leon and the Black Keys. I think we’re even there.
After college our discussions turned to politics, and we both got pretty heated. We could not differ any more than we do when it comes to politics, and this was around the time of the Bush vs Kerry election. Everyone in the US seemed divided, and we got caught up that mess too. I actually learned a lot from those discussions. I am much more willing to hear out other people’s opinions now, and know that if I am going to speak on something, I better know what I am talking about. I’ve also been forced to reevaluate how my faith and my politics interact, and I consider myself a much better citizen because of that.
The next round with Dainty focused around faith. I was a speak-first, rookie youth minister pretending I had my faith all together because I was okay with my dad’s deteriorating health. Dainty was finishing up his masters in science, surrounded by the intellectual elite. Those were some tough times for our friendship because we were so dug in to our ‘positions’. I felt called to to impose my faith on everyone, and he was doing everything to say that my faith was merely a coping mechanism. The laughter we had once shared faded closely to oblivion, replaced by two hard nosed, young professionals trying to cope with growing up while trying to stay friends. Our identities were wrapped up in our beliefs.
A couple of years ago Dainty got married. The original plan was for me to meet them in Italy and perform the wedding, but they decided to have a small legal ceremony back east where they went to school, and I wasn’t able to make it.
It was a breaking point.
‘I was thinking of calling’, turned into ‘I should have called’. But we toughed through that with a couple of light hearted how-are-you conversations. After I moved back to San Diego the calls became more frequent. And more cordial. The music discussions were more light hearted. The political discussions became friendly. The faith discussions were missing egos.
The last time it was just the three of us, we had a nice dinner at an Italian restaurant. We laughed, talked about our jobs, our dreams, our faith, our friendship, and ways that we could make the world better for their child. It was such a grown up conversation.
I enjoyed that time together. I realized that throughout all of the changes that we had gone through we were still friends, and we still love each other. The conversations may shift between serious, personal, goofy, and intellectual, but the constant has been a mutual caring for the person across the table.
It got me to thinking about my faith, and how my conversations with God have changed over the years. So many things that seem like such a big deal are simply memories now. Objects that seemed insurmountable barely register on the radar. With all of the things that have been in flux over the years, it is becoming more obvious how constant God’s love is. With all that our relationship has been through (with me taking credit for the tough spots) over the past decade we are now closer than ever. It is comforting to understand God’s love in the context of consistency.
And so last night I smiled. I smiled because my friend and his wife invited me to a baby shower. Their baby shower. I smiled because was wearing my good sweater and my nice, but still casual shoes. I smiled because we were at his sister’s house. I smiled because we were having these grown up conversations with people we grew up with. I smiled because I know God is working on the heart of my friend and his wife, patiently waiting for the time they come to know Him.
Then I smiled because I won one of the baby shower games.
One love, one heart.
Dark Side of the Moon / The Flaming Lips
Rattitude / Weezer
Greatest Hits / Blink 182
The Tipping Point / Malcolm Gladwell
The Office: Season 3
Chuck: Season 1