Thursday, 27 August 2015

High School Reunion: Post Mortem

Five days ago I flew back home to Manitoba. I go back every year or so, but this time was different. I brought my new husband of one-and-a-half years (his first time in any of the prairie provinces) and we were going to my high school reunion.

I was excited leading up to it. I could hardly wait to see my friends again. The last reunion we had was 18 years ago. I was pregnant with my oldest son......

....and I was married to someone else.

My spouse chauffeured me to the gathering (my Mom in the passenger seat and me in the back) and I became overwhelmed with emotion. "Am I going to have have to explain to everyone what happened? Are people going to look at me with judgement in their eyes? Am I going to have to answer a thousand questions?"

I surprised myself. I thought I had long since grieved all I needed to around my first marriage. I have been given the gift of a new life with a wonderful man. He was here beside me, holding my hand. Why do I feel like bursting into tears?

I didn't have much time to process what was going on for me. And it didn't take long before someone mentioned to me "all I had gone through" and my eyes started welling up with tears.

I was furious with myself. I did not come all this way to cry.

Learning #1 - processing my divorce with my British Columbia friends when it happened was great. They helped me do a thorough job. But I still needed to process further with my childhood friends, who knew both of us. For some reason, it was significant.

Once I got my emotions under control I had a great time. There were about 100 of us. It felt like no time had passed. Those I was nervous about seeing again were wonderful and life giving and gave me no weird vibes. Yay for no weird vibes.

I laughed until I thought tears would run down my legs. The stories we told were sweet. We remembered those whose journeys ended prematurely. Our hugs were warm and genuine.

And they loved my husband, Jarrett, quickly conscripting him to BBQ duty.

Once the reunion ended the "after party" began which was almost greater than the event itself. Not  because there were more stories and laughs and memories, but because the level of honesty and vulnerability could almost be described as sacred.

Learning #2 - sitting with dear friends you have known 40 years and hearing hard, disappointing, disillusioning stories is profound and can only be described as a gift: a "treasure in dark places". Not one of us is living the life we thought we would. We hold each other not with judgement but rather with grace and acceptance. This is as close to koinonia as I think we're going to see this side of eternity.

The next day there were more get-togethers. More honesty. More tears (from me, of course.)

Learning #3 - you can ask shockingly honest questions to people with whom you have a long history. And it's ok. Even if you haven't seen them for a really long time. They will more than likely tell you the truth. And you will understand.

Jarrett and I stayed at my mom's house. I looked around her apartment, literally stuffed full of memories, I noticed pictures on the walls, on the fridge, on the mirrors, on the side tables. Some of those pictures were me as a young bride, my Dad, my first husband, and others who aren't in our life anymore.

Learning #4 - it is really smart to keep those memories active. Keep those pictures up. Don't forget the good times. Just because people aren't in our lives, (for whatever reason) it doesn't mean they never were. And that is what makes our time on this earth so rich.

It would be great if it wasn't 18 years until our next reunion. Just saying.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

High School Reunion Edition

I’m going to my high school reunion this weekend.

It’s been 28 years since I graduated. Considering I was 17 when that happened, when you include my undergrad and graduate studies I’ve still easily spent more time out of school then in it.

But I can’t wait to go back. I have such a pull back to my hometown. Many of these people I haven’t seen for over 20 years. Even now, why do I feel like I know them so well? Why will the stories we tell continue to be so funny? Why will be tease the same people about the same things?

These school age roots must go down pretty deep.

I think one of the reasons was that I went to a really small private school for those years. We knew each other inside and out. We noticed when people got a haircut or a black eye or broke up with someone. It was big news. Because it was all the news we had.

A couple of times a year we would travel to a competitive “convention” in a different province or state. I still remember how the bathroom smelled at a church we stayed at in Saskatoon. I remember Shirley getting mad at me for talking about some encouragement notes from her mom in her suitcase that were meant for her sisters.  I remember some of the questions our “Reach for the Top” team had. I remember each inconvenient time I got my period.

How can this be? I don’t even remember what I had for supper last night.

Not everyone loved our school. It was very conservative and full of rules. For me half of the fun was seeing how many rules I could break without getting caught. We weren’t allowed any “non-Christian” music at school, and one day I had an Abba tape in my gym bag. One of the older girls took it to our principal who in turn called my dad. My dad told our principal (who I do love) that Abba was a great group and I was more than welcome to listen to them.  Go Dad.

Some people won’t come out this weekend because they are still hurt from the effects of that sometime harsh environment. I understand that. We will miss them.

There are those who we went to school with that won’t be coming this weekend because they aren’t with us anymore. Cancer takes its toll on the just and the unjust. We grieve and remember them.

There are those that I am scared to death might show up. They hurt and humiliated me. But I don’t think I was the only one they hurt and humiliated. I’m hoping they didn’t get an invitation.

As for now, I wonder what I’m going to wear. I’m thankful that my mom is making potato salad so I don’t have to cart an appetizer three provinces over. I wonder what people are going to look like. I don’t think I’ve aged that well, hopefully the same holds true for everyone else. J

I’m counting the hours until I hear the same stories retold. People holding hands under blankets on the bus, Kim always being late for school even though she only lived 10 feet away, Mr. Weslake’s eye exercises.

The stories make us who we are.

And we are great.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Beckie Evans: Parts Unknown

I’ve recently become a business owner.

This scares me.

All my working life I’ve chosen to work for others. Frankly, that seemed a lot easier than doing something on my own. But time goes on and circumstances happen and opportunities emerge and here I am, the owner of my own music studio.

If ever there were a business for me to open, this would be it. I’ve made somewhat of a living teaching piano since I was 17, so I know what I’m doing. I’ve just never had to worry about generating students, possibly disappointing teachers who come on board, and potentially falling on my face.

I regularly give myself the big “risk” pep talk. But when standing face to face with risk, it would be nice to have a cushy guaranteed check in your bank account every two weeks. That’s a luxury I no longer have.

What I do have is opportunity. And I’m scared.

What if I’m not great at generating students? What if I can’t retain them? What if I my new business doesn’t give me enough money to feed my family or pay the bills?

I remember a sermon I heard 10 or so years ago. The pastor said we don’t need to worry about finances because God owns the cattle on a thousand hills and it’s up to him to supply what we need. I suppose. But it is quite uncomfortable.

Maybe that’s it. I am uncomfortable. I want security and stability. Instead, I have opportunity and risk. I want to be able to go to the store and buy what I want for supper. Instead, I’ll probably need to keep looking through the sale flyers. I want to know how I’m going to pay my bills weeks in advance. Instead, I get to plan how I’m going to pay my bills weeks in advance.

I still flirt with different employment websites, imagining myself behind a desk, sipping on Starbucks, wearing my latest fashions I purchased full price from The Bay.

Doesn’t God know I have more than enough character? I’ve been through more in this lifetime than most people go through in 70+ years. I like who I’ve become. But I really don’t need more challenges.

I feel like I’m at the checkout stand in the store of life and God is behind the till, asking me if I’d like to make a donation to yet another worthy cause.

No thanks, not today. The cost is too high.

But actually I don’t have much of a choice. Because here I am. This is happening. I’m in labor, but instead of birthing a baby I’m birthing a new career.

I’d much prefer one that’s safe, secure, and carries no financial risk.  It seems so nice, so comfortable. I don’t understand why God doesn’t see things my way.

God just whispered something in my ear. And I laugh because it’s true. He said, “If you had that life, you wouldn’t need me.”

True. I wouldn’t.

So instead of comfort and stability, I again walk hand in hand to parts unknown with the creator of the universe. I don’t know what’s around each bend and I don’t really know how to plan, but from what I recall, he can probably plan for me. And when I phrase it like that it doesn’t seem so bad.

I just wish I could use his credit card if I need to.