Monday, July 19, 2010

A Summer of Foreshadowing

The summer of 2000 was one filled with a wide variety of experiences and revelations, and at least one moment of foreshadowing.

I was in between my junior and senior year at Heidelberg, and I elected to stay in Tiffin that summer to work on campus as an "ambassador" (read: go-fer for the Admissions office). So I and five others who were also going to be sticking around for various reasons went in together to rent a house: a large fixer-upper of a place that was on the market. It was modestly furnished, with little more than a couple broken-down pieces of furniture left by the people trying to sell it. The plumbing and appliances were suspect, and the basement was frightening enough that we just didn't go down there. Near the end of this summer, I saw the movie Fight Club for the first time, and the house in which the two main characters live resembles our temporary home in more ways than I wanted to admit.

One of the things that marked this summer was music. I'd played drums or bass for the on-campus evangelical group, as well as for a local United Methodist church, and out of these emerged a separate group that would play around at other venues. I was just coming off all of this crap, so I was leery about my first meet-up with other members of the band, some of whom played prominent roles in the negative stuff that I experienced during the school year.

We met at the Methodist church. The band's plan for the summer was to Get Super Serious about recording a demo and getting a deal in order to go out and save the world, so this was to be our first meeting to discuss that project. Only some members of the group could make it, and so the four of us sat down in a church classroom just to catch up. I talked for a while about what I'd been focusing on in my personal Bible reading, which inspired the three of them to each confess and apologize for what had happened over the previous few months. It turned out to be a night of reconciliation, for which I was glad. In the long run, we weren't going to be the friends that we were before, but to at least have that moment together was a positive thing.

My gig as an "ambassador" was pretty easy. It was basically an office job, where I'd stuff envelopes for mailings to prospective students, I'd answer phones, I'd give tours to visiting high schoolers. I'd also have lunch regularly with Coffeefiancee, sneak up to my fraternity's hall to grab a soda from the refrigerator, chat with other students who'd stuck around campus, and generally not take any of it incredibly seriously. It's because of this job that I could fully appreciate the humor of Office Space, because so much of it is absolutely true.

The third weekend of June, Heidelberg hosts Alumni Weekend, during which they have catered meals, reunion gatherings, the fraternities and sororities open their know, typical stuff that you'd think a college would do for this. I filled multiple roles for that event, having volunteered to be up in my frat's hall during that portion of the day, as well as carry a banner with a class year on it for the procession of alumni into the gymnasium for the big banquet.

One of the benefits of this latter role was that I got a free lunch. Each of the students involved would sit at a different table of alumni to talk up how wonderful our college experience has been, which would in turn inspire them to give money.

I sat down at my assigned table, which included an older couple and their adult daughter. We hit it off immediately. They mentioned where they lived, which is very close to my hometown, so we talked about that for a while. At one point, the daughter talked about her pledging one of the sororities--the same one to which Coffeefiancee belonged--when she was a student, which she eventually de-pledged. "I mainly pledged just to show that I could do it," I recall her saying. Fair enough. It was a great lunch, with great company.

The summer continued. Most of my time was spent working during the day, practicing and playing with the band on some evenings and weekends, hanging out with the other people in the house, and just acting my age. I loved the summer evenings spent on our large porch or taking walks. We went to see a friend's band play one night, which was a lot of fun. In general, we made up ways to enjoy living in the small town where our school was located.

I took two trips that summer. The first was a two-week trip around New England, mostly Maine, with my parents, grandparents, and brother. Essentially, we were there so that my grandparents could run around catching up with old friends. I remember how beautiful a place Maine is, and it caused me to consider living there some day. One particular memory that stands out to me happened on a Sunday morning: my grandparents, who were some of the most dedicated churchpeople I've ever known, lamented not being able to attend worship somewhere that day. We were driving to the next destination, and weren't able to stop. To make up for it, they burst out in a series of favorite hymns. This was our Sunday worship, at 65 miles per hour.

The second trip was to Ormond Beach, Florida, which is just outside Daytona. Coffeewife's family has a condo there, and this is the big annual trip for them. This was my second time along with the family, and I've been glad to have a regular trip to the beach in my life again.

Close to the end of this summer, the band's project began to unravel. They did end up recording a demo, although I was in Maine while they did it. I think this was the beginning of my wondering whether to move on from that particular group. Near the very beginning of the school year, we played at a Christian music festival, before and after which rifts occurred between other band members. The group dissolved shortly after that.

Some nine years later, I was chatting with a couple members of my church. This church has an older couple and their adult daughter who all went to Heidelberg, which we occasionally talk about. On this particular day, the daughter was telling me about how she'd pledged one of the sororities--the same one Coffeewife pledged--but eventually de-pledged. "I just pledged to show that I could do it," she said.

At that moment, something clicked in my brain. I realized that I'd had lunch with these people during Alumni Weekend, the summer of 2000, over four years before I was called to be their pastor.