Re-visit, Re-mind, Re-new

They were at the church 15 minutes early.  15!  He had no idea how.  He knew why.  It was a matter of education.  Over the years, he’d learned.  And if there was one thing he would not waver on it was that although he may not be the brightest penny in the jar, he could be taught.  His lessons hadn’t come easily but they had come and once he’d earned them he didn’t often give them back.  He knew whose he was.

The half full parking lot was a mix of safe, sensible sedans and cross-overs, the ones with all-wheel drive and an optional fifth seat just big enough for your comfort dog or cat or mongoose or cheetah to rest, well comfortably.  Then there were the minivans among whose ranks he joined bellying up to the curb as the cowling grated them to a stop.  He knew who was here.  He just wasn’t crazy about being counted among them.

Almost before the wheels crunched to a halt in the lot he swore he heard the squeals. Apparently initiation at the sorority required special voice training to get up into a register only dogs could appreciate.  Minnie Riperton eat your heart out.   Let the hugging and squeaking and laughing begin.  As his spouse walked in he checked the back hatch to make sure it was latched for the 26th time to delay the inevitable.  It was.  After that there wasn’t much more to do but amble on into the church, take a seat and await his fate.

He looked around the church as his fellow revelers strode into its chasmic expanse.  His gaze lingered on the group of young men ahead and to his left.  They were a shape shifting amoebic knot whose carefree attitude, thinly muffled laughter and casual conversation reminded him of someone he once knew very well.  They talked with everyone around them, two three, four rows up or back it didn’t matter.  Once in a while a loud laugh would escape or an unbridled epithet would break free; to which the rest of the section would cower and snicker.  He straightened the cuff of his shirt and touched his tie to make sure it was still square.  He’d clearly spent more time on it than the guys in the group had collectively taken picking out clothes from their roommates’ closets.   His spouse couldn’t have been more the antithesis of them.

Ever sharp and put together she sat, ankles crossed with her hands folded in her lap reading the program by his side.  She was a lot like some of the older crowd of sorority sisters they sat amongst.  Occasionally they rose to hug and greet each other and make small talk, catching up.  His line of sight toward them included the younger group of sorority girls to their right.  Their group was a constant flurry of activity.

Visiting was rampant as was the occasional squeal even here in church.  And while there was a clearly more reserved faction of the group, there were obvious divisions.  The reserved women who made up about 15% dressed impeccably.  They would remain under control all night.  The largest group, somewhere in the murky middle of 45-65%, were the swing voters.  Depending on how their day had gone, what they had to do tomorrow and what men were here their night could go from staid to frantic.  The remaining 20-40% were the ones he had always hung out with at these sorts of things.  They weren’t overly impressed by a ceremony and would have come only for the open bar reception if they thought it wouldn’t look bad and maybe get brought up in chapter meetings.  They may have already hit the bar before the ceremony if they had to be in town early.  Still as fun as they were to party with, the interesting ones to watch were in the middle.

Although they were the clear majority you never knew what might happen with them.  Matching their numbers serendipitously with the same demographic of young men (oh yeah, they had them too, sometimes in spades) was fire and gasoline.  The stuff of legends occurred at many a well-timed, well-funded wedding reception.  Unfortunately those days were many moons and many miles ago and since it was untoward to be seen partying with a bunch of 19-21 year-olds he’d have to satisfy himself with handicapping their party enjoyment as the night wore along.  Spectating had become the new and expected norm.  The objective analysis and observation however didn’t end there.

All the mileage in coupes, small sedans and now a minivan had put major distance between them.  The passage of time had formed an organized and prioritized controlled machine out of that wonderful mess of a life they embarked upon so long ago.   At least it seemed like a long time ago.  He’d been “taught” many lessons at home and at work.  The wild-eyed, lose-the-directions-to-the-church guy had been replaced, by, well, 15 minutes.  He dressed himself out of one closet (his) these days and it matched.  That other guy was gone, long gone.  Just as those days in the murky middle were past for his eternal date to his right.  The only murky middle they dealt with anymore had more to do with teen angst, office politics and social measurements.  It didn’t make it any easier and sometimes he/they fell back into that sect below the murky middle.  The difference had everything to do with experience as evidenced by silver and grey-haired crowd.  Somehow they had gotten the majority of this thing figured out.

They sat in small pods of 2-4 couples and visited quietly and amicably.  They were close enough to hear each other without shouting and far enough away from the other groups to be removed from their noise.  They smiled a lot and through the touch of a shoulder, the pat on the back and the shake of a hand it was clear that if there were divisions no one gave a darn any longer.  The spouses understood each other enough to surrender a point even though they knew they were right.  They understood that laughter quells as effectively as an exclamation.  They knew that they couldn’t go back in time even if they had wanted to before.  They knew that It had all been worth it.  And as Canon in D began, he knew that once again the circle had been closed.

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