Thursday, February 19, 2009

February 19th

Today is the two year anniversary of my first real internet friend meeting. I decided to do a blog post in honor of this, though I'm not really sure what I should and shouldn't say. If you're not a member of the Christian writing forum Clean Place, some of this won't make sense to you... but some of it might.

Two years ago today Kal, EveningStar, Emerwen, Linte, Linte's older brother “Nat” (then a member of CP), Maranar, Telpe, my mother, and I all piled into the big 15-passenger van we were borrowing from Linte's family (my family's van had broken down a matter of days beforehand). We got lost on the way to the nearby ranch – we tend to get lost on the way to meet Cpers, for some odd reason – but we managed to get there on time. After wandering around in the dark for a while and playing a somewhat unsuccessful game of cellphone tag, we ended up with Rivus and his choir, beside a campfire, beside a lake, beneath the starlight.

Rivus was (and remains) one of my closest friends. I had started talking to him the day he joined Clean Place, 8 months earlier. We had been planning this meeting together for nearly six months. I think the word that most of the Cpers involved associate with that night is “awkward.” Because, after all, here were all these crazy Texan teenagers (most of them girls) dropped in middle of a big choir from Tennessee just to see one teenaged guy who they had only met online. And it was awkward. But that's not primarily how I remember it.

I was so nervous before hand. I couldn't eat dinner, because I knew I would throw up. I couldn't think all day, and almost no school got done. As we walked around looking for him, I was walking out ahead very fast with Emerwen, waving my hands around in the air (if you know me, that's what I do when I get so nervous I can't deal with it anymore). I was 15 years old. Those of you who knew me in person back then, or even online, probably know that I was not the same person when I was 15. I was painfully shy and quiet, I was angry inside, I was depressed, I had just been through two extremely painful broken relationships in the space of three months, and though I hated my life I hated myself most of all. I was scared of everyone. This was at the beginning of the five darkest months of my life, which eventually were what God used to completely transform me.

Rivus was 16. He was very different then too. Because of some recent events and painful circumstances that we had been put in together, and were walking through together, I was more inclined to trust him than most other people. But to be completely honest, I was terrified of meeting him. At the time I was afraid I would make him hate me.

One very vivid memory comes to mind: his choir and the group of Texans were walking together to the campfire, down a dimly lit, badly paved path. I was beside him, and we were talking about random things – basically both doing our best to make conversation, something neither of us were good at. We had discussed multiple times while planning the meeting the fact that I tended to be very quiet, and I would probably spend most of the time by myself in the shadows (which was, and to some degree still is, my method of dealing with groups). But as we walked, suddenly he looked at me and said “you're not hiding in the shadows!”

I hadn't noticed it until he pointed it out, because I was so wrapped up in the moment. I remember being shocked, but not upset with myself. And I realized something, starting in the moment and continuing as we rode home and I lay awake in bed afterwards: Rivus was the first person I had interacted with in two years who I was not afraid of. I couldn't explain it to myself. I just knew he didn't scare me, and it made me so happy I wanted to cry. That was the first night in my life that I believed that maybe I do need friends... and maybe that's not a bad thing. Maybe sometimes relationships aren't terrifying and painful, but beautiful. Maybe sometimes it's alright to laugh. Maybe I didn't have to be afraid.

It's been two years now. I've met so many Clean Placers since then – over 30. Every single meeting has been different, but every one has held elements of that first meeting. Each one has re-echoed the message that friendships are worth it, that we are called to walk not alone but side by side with friends. It's a message I have needed to come back to over and over and over again. It's a message that will be engraved even deeper into my heart in the coming months as Anywhere comes to stay with us, I hopefully get to see Legossi again, and Midget comes to visit.

For right now, February 19, 2009, two years after that first meeting... the memories are a proof to me that some things don't change, and that some things are just worth it. It's something I hope I can never forget.

Clean Place meetings:

"Nat," Rivus, Kal, Mar, Telpe, Em, Linte, me, and ES
February 19, 2007

Me, Rivus, Mar, and Telpe
June 6, 2007

Mar, Linte, Em, Legossi, Telpe, Kal, me, and ES
September 21, 2007

The Clean Place Moot 2008
June 16, 2008

Telpe, Em, Linte, Lissi, Mar, and Me
October 13, 2008

Rivus, Younger Fern, me, Elder Fern, and runningtiger
December 13, 2008

Me, Warrior Maiden, Younger Fern, Elder Fern
December 15, 2008

1 comment:

WM said...

That was a good post :) Wow, it doesn't seem like your first meeting with Rivus was that long ago.