So the thing I've been dreading and not even blogging about has come upon me. In the most cinematic way. As in, "written by an author for maximum viewer impact."
Of course, I will explain. Grizzbabe will understand best, but you guys will be able to catch up quickly, I'm sure.
Back when I was 16, I joined a very, very, VERY strict church. And I was a total part of that church up until I was 27, when my mother died of cancer and I went off to a religious pilgrimage to join the ministry. Honest injun. At the time, I was convinced it was the Voice of God sending me. I'm still not convinced today that it wasn't. But Lord knows, literally, that I'm no longer following that inclination.
I've blogged a few times about my adventures in Missouri, but I've rarely detailed about my life from 16-27, while I was Holy Joe Christian. I have, however, mentioned that it was a total haven of sanctimonious living that helped me successfully avoid all attempts at sex, which was perfect for me since I was (unbeknownst to me) such a damaged set of goods.
Whelp, from 16-27, I had lots of good friends in church. I had crushes on girls and I had crushes on boys. Naturally, in church, you only act on the girl-crushes when you're a boy. So I did. I had gone as far as to get my heart crushed by the girl I feel that I was in love with as she told me "I need a man, not a boy" and proceeded to marry the organ player. No worries, she was bad news. She and he got along like a mountain lioness and a pit bull. They divorced some years later. It was a sad tale for them and a bullet that I totally dodged. Later on, I got engaged to another girl who was head over heels in love with me. The tender, dear heart. I still think of her with a sweet fondness. And she was fine, too. Once when driving her back from one of our first dates, she fell asleep while we drove on the Palisades Pkwy, and I gazed at her and felt like taking her right then and there on the side of the road. It was a triumphant day for my testosterone. I'm sure I sprouted my first few chest hairs then. Needless to say, we never got married. It was my decision and my fault.
One of the boy-crushes I had is more aptly called a "man-crush". I've already exploded my take on man-crushes ad nauseum, but here I call them "boy-crushes" because I was a boy then. But there was this big, brusque, panther of a friend I had who was showing me just what it meant to be a player. He was a smouldering operator that almost all of the ladies loved. And I navigated in his shadow. He too came to a sloppy end. See, in a church as strict as ours, his behavior was highly frowned upon. His personality won everyone's hearts but his actions were atrociously normal. So after a highly Scarlet Letter-like pregnancy scare from one of his groupies, he was ousted from the church.
His father, however, had been my friend and father figure from way before I had met The Player. His father lived in the same apartments that I did, and seemed to care for me before I even knew I needed caring for. Childhood Bud would know this man (since Childhood Bud lived on the same side of our apartments as he did). In my early days, I'd ride to church with this man, and wish dearly to be his son. Until his real son moved in (The Player). And his other son. And his other one.
I was soon squeezed out of the me-time I had with him and had to share him with his children (he had daughters too), not to mention all my other guy-peers who saw him similarly as a father figure. We were a lot of fatherless dudes in that church and this man was a rare commodity. But being who I am, I got tired of sharing and withdrew my affections to a tolerable level. I found others to fill the gap. And eventually I moved to Missouri.
Well, what I didn't realize was that this man always retained his affection for me. Through all his children and all the other fatherless boys vieing for his attention, he still cared for me. I was one of his "sons" and he knew how to love his children.
I discovered this yesterday, when after 14 years of distance and scattered occasional "hellos," we ran into each other a block from Central Park.
I was walking my usual route back from the center when he got my attention. He was sitting in his livery vehicle (quite an upscale affair) preparing to meet a fare in the neighborhood when he had looked up from a puzzle and saw me walking. Like the gasp from a blow to the solar plexus, he barked my name.
When I saw him, there was no holy light outlining the moment. At least not for me. But for him, in the half hour following, I learned that the appointment was no less than Divine. For the past 14 years, he'd been asking God how I was doing and when he would ever see me again. He would not -- had not accepted that I was gone. Church people can be like that, and this man even moreso. He had known and cared for me from before I had even started going to the church. In his heart, he had adopted me.
I realize I had done him a disservice by leaving without keeping contact.
I am very, very different than I was when he last knew me. And he is still very connected to the church I once went to. The very, very, VERY strict church. Through him I learned that the very, very, VERY strict pastor is still running the joint. The pastor that I have been staying away from.
So this man and I have exchanged numbers and he wants to get together to catch up on my life in a few Saturdays.
What do I tell this man? How much of my utter apostasy do I reveal?
I want to tell him everything. EVERYTHING.
What do you, dear readers, think I should do?