Friday, August 10, 2007


This is a little self-indulgent, but this is my blog. Deal with it.

University was hard for me, because I was young, hot-blooded, arrogant, and stupid. Not stupid as "below 16 IQ", but stupid as "had not the slightest clue how to relate to people". I didn't so very well there: I mean, I got acceptable grades and all that, but I didn't do very well. There were a lot of growing pains, and a whole lot of that pain could have been avoided except for my poor judgement, aimlessness, and laziness. I was, in a word, a slacker.

But in the last year and a half of my time at university, I made some incredible friends. I've tried to get a hold of them off and on for the last thirteen years (I graduated and left in 1994), but always failed. This week, exactly 13 years after I left, we have re-established contact. I've emailed with Rachel, Karina, Herb, and Kelly. There were others, and I hope to run across them too, but this is a good start.

So I'm a little irrationally happy right now. It'll probably pass, but I'm so very excited to be in contact with such great friends again. I'm enjoying it while it lasts.

It was tough being a Christian on campus: it was a very hostile environment. And in the middle of all that, there was Kelly, one of the campus chaplains. He was a wonderful influence on all of us, but particularly on me. Kelly really demonstrated Christianity as a holistic thing: emotional, intellectual, ethical, mystical. He did them all without emphasizing any one at the expense of the others. He knew his Bible, but didn't worship it. He reached out to the people who needed Jesus, but not in a naive, baseless optimism. Kelly is still one of my heroes.

Herb and I were in a Bible study at Kelly's house (Monday nights?) with Chris, Wayne, and (I can't remember his name). We were all a little disgruntled, and joked that we had all been declared heretics by at least one major denomination. Come to think of it, I'm not sure what Wayne was doing in that study: he seemed awfully normal for us. I can't remember a lot of what we studied, but I can remember the way Kelly would bring everything into a holistic focus. I wanted to have knowledge: Kelly satisfied that without worshipping the intellect. And he pushed me to go further than just having the answers.

Herb might be the smartest person I've ever met. He was smart. Not "college kid smart" but "really, really smart". Herb and I were inseparable: at one point, I suddenly realized everyone thought we were gay. Oops.

Herb taught me that the Bible is not nearly the book I thought it was. He had the habit of reading something like Derrida or Kierkegaard and relating that to something like Hebrews. My respect for the Word of God has increased from that. I remember Dean, another friend of ours, saying the most convincing part of the Bible is that Ecclesiastes is in it.

Finaly, Rachel and Karina were very dear friends. How we ever got all of us into my VW Rabbit is baffling even now. I remember Rachel would start laughing so hard I thought she'd choke. I can't imagine Rachel without a grin. I still have horrors thinking of her careening down the ramps in the University auditorium, or casually crossing the street through thick traffic. Rachel was busting at the seems with personality, and it was worth while just to bask in it.

Karina sent me a very nasty letter when I moved away, chiding me for leaving without telling anyone. That letter's haunted me for years: there's more to friendship than joviality, isn't there? I've always had an easy time making friends; but like Mr. Wickham, whether I can keep them remains to be seen. I think it was Karina who first showed me that there is a certain amount of responsibility in friendship. That's a lesson I'm still trying to learn.

I remember one time complimenting Karina on her English (not her first language), and she started laughing, saying she only understood half of what we were saying. I guess she had mastered the "smile and nod." Every conversation with Karina would lead to some form of revelation. A lot of people seem to be shocked by what I say in conversation: rest assured, if you had spent enough time with Karina, you'd find me rather flat.

So Rachel, Karina, Kelly, and Herb, you've no idea how much I missed you and how happy I am to have emailed with all of you again. And everyone else (Dean? Jeff? Chris?) I'd love to hear from you if you ever stumble across this and recognize my ugly mug on the side.


Stace' said...

You're right, there is nothing like being reunited with old friends.
I saw a guy I grew up with on the way home from the NC Mountains a few yrs. ago. At a gas station, as we were pulling off, I saw a back view of a tall cop, but as we drove away I had this knowing that I had just seen Matt. I called the Police Dept. in that town, and got a message to him. We finally made contact, and it HAD been him. He came down for dinner with my brothers and I, and we had a wonderful reunion. So odd, and so good.

Shan said...

I was thinking about Adrian and Ann just the other day. Remember that party where that curly haired dude and his crazy zaftig girlfriend kept flaunting those fur-lined handcuffs?

It was a long time ago, wasn't it.

clumsy ox said...

In fact, I was telling Ames about Adrian and Ann the other day. And I remember the party quite well. Or at least, I remember one such party. I think it's the one you're referring to.

It was a long time ago, and it does make me feel old. But that's not really my interest: not so much recapturing the glory days or anything. Mainly just that I lost some important friendships coming down here, and there's some opportunity to at least partially get those reconnected.

I'm afraid I've always been too easy to leave a place, and I'm only now seeing the damage I've done to the relationships associated thereto by my flippant and casual attitude towards them.

Shan said...

Yeah people do tend to get attached. "They cling so there's no shaking the dear creatures off at all."

And, unlike you, I only went to one party in university. That I can remember.

Anonymous said...

Daryl Budd here from St Louis ... remember, the guy who never keeps in touch! Hope you're doing great, if you feel like dropping me a line, Hope to hear from you