Bear with me as I indulge in a bit of nostalgia, Gentle Readers, and take a short walk down Memory Lane….
Three years ago this very day, my family drove down to California to visit our few remaining relatives there. I’d rather not go into the family stuff, as it wasn’t exactly thrilling (plus it was rather sad, as my late grandmother was suffering from dementia at the time).
I will mention, however, the Cuteness Overload moment we had while watching Singin’ in the Rain with Grandma: I looked over at her, and she was singing along with “You Were Meant For Me.” D’aaaaawwww….
(Much of what you’re about to read was excerpted from an email to a friend shortly after the event in question, and lightly edited to be relevant to the present.)
The highlight of the trip, though, happened on Saturday night (the 29th). I had secretly contacted Peter’s three best friends (the other members of the old barbershop quartet) earlier that year, thinking that, since MY BABY BROTHER WAS TURNING THIRTY (!!!), it’d be cool to do something really special to celebrate. I was going to see if “the boys” (Caleb, Shawn, and Matthew) could come visit us for Peter’s birthday weekend, but when we found out we’d be visiting Grandma in Nevada City/Grass Valley in late July/early August of that year, we agreed it’d be more practical for the boys (who all still lived in California at the time) to meet us at Shawn’s parents’ home. A sort of “Un-Birthday” Party.
Plus it worked out better for their busy schedules.
Shawn found PDFs of all the songs they used to sing together and sent them to everyone, plus a barbershop arrangement of Happy Birthday…which they sang as Peter walked in the door (with Shawn's dad singing lead). Peter was pretty much oblivious to our sneaky plans until we drove up to the house and saw all the extra cars, hehehe. Although he must have thought it odd that Shawn’s mom would call us up the night before we left to “invite” us to dinner…and that we were bringing everything….
(Please excuse the lack of photos. It appears I only took two still-shots that evening, and one of them was absolute rubbish due to backlighting. This one is horribly yellowed, but at least y’all can see everyone!)
On the whole, the evening was a great success, in spite of a bit of awkwardness on my part, and the music Caleb tried to print off the Internet getting saved goofy and printing messed up. It was so good to see them all again, and hear them sing (except when they sightread a new song—that was pretty awful, LOL), and catch up on their lives and just hang out…enjoying pizza and Root Beer, of course! (It was kind of a tradition.) As we used to say back in The Day: “Good Times and Free Grog!”
Normally, social interaction drains my emotional energy. I get to a point where I’m thinking, “OK, I’ve had enough of you. Go away/Let’s go home now.”
Peter’s party had the opposite effect. I could have stayed up all night talking with them (or even just Shawn and his folks)…but of course that wasn’t an option.
I felt a real spirit-kinship with our old friends that night…which we haven’t felt with anyone we’ve met since we left California, really. It was refreshing. It was wonderful!
And it left me so charged that I wasn’t a bit sleepy when we finally crawled back to Grandma's house after 10 p.m. I honestly don’t think I actually went to sleep until well into the Wee Hours, LOL.
Some highlights and quotes from the evening:
Yours truly deciding to fist-bump “the boys,” not being sure hugs
would be appropriate….
SHAWN: *Confused look* Well, that’s the hypo-allergenic way to greet someone.
ME: *Fist-bumps Caleb during this speech*
*Sees Matthew with arms open*
*Turns back to Shawn* Friendly hug?
Lesson learned: Don’t be afraid to hug people you’ve known since grade-school. It just makes things awkward.
Shawn making a little speech about how it’s
become a tradition to celebrate our gatherings with Root Beer, but
that “we don’t
have any root beer,” and someone suggesting a trip to the store to
ME: *Opens cooler*
*Pulls out the pack of Root Beer we smuggled down for the occasion* Ta-da!
BOYS: *Sounds of appreciation and happiness*
* Matthew discussing the car he was trying to sell: “It makes vroom-vroom noises, Caleb….”
diagnosis of why the music wouldn’t
print properly: “Yeah, someone set us up the bomb.”
ME: *Dies laughing*
(Virtual cookies to anyone who gets the joke!)
* Caleb finding a GORGEOUS old hymn called “Deck Thyself, My Soul,With Gladness,” and all of us singing it together (even though we weren’t sure of our parts).
* Sharing prayer requests before the party broke up, and praying together. The sense that everyone cared about each other and the things we were dealing with in life.
* Myself deciding not to be afraid take the empty chair beside one of the boys. Twice. Telling myself these fellows are my brothers in Christ, so it’s perfectly fine to sit next to them. (I’ve been shy and nervous around boys since I was nine, and terrified of giving them the wrong impression, so this was huge for me.)
* Shawn asking me if I’ve ever heard of NaNoWriMo, and suggesting I try it. Something about the act of “just getting it out there”—just writing on something, even if it’s not great—can unblock ideas that are clogged up. It was interesting that he’d even heard of NaNo,† and kinda cool that he even remembered I write.
† Re-reading this account, I remembered that several of our fellow message board members (circa early 2000’s) were involved in NaNo, so that’s probably where he heard about it. But it was still cool that he remembered after all those years.
Peter, Shawn, and me discussing Star Trek after the party (Shawn had
been going through the series for the first time). Peter and me
advising him to “skip the first two seasons” of Next Generation,
explaining the story behind the term “growing the beard,” and
watching a Star Trek version of “Let It Snow” on Shawn's phone.
PETER: (as we were leaving) It took fifteen years, but we finally turned him into a Trekkie.
* Peter remarking on the drive back to Grandma's, “I’d actually been thinking about the guys today, and thinking we’ll probably never see them again....”
So it was extra special that they were able to come!
To this day, I’m still just tickled that it all worked out—that these grown men, with their own lives and careers and what-not, dropped everything and carved out some time in their busy schedules to throw a surprise party for a guy they hadn’t seen in years. Sole Deo Gloria!
next time, Gentle Readers,