I’m writing this in three parts because it has just gotten unwieldy for a single blog post. This is part 1, and the other two parts will follow in subsequent days.
I’ve never lived in one place for very long. I can think of at least 8 different residences I had in 5 cities and 3 states before I graduated high school. Many folks have stories like this due to military life or some other vocation but I’m honestly not sure why this was our story. Because of this, I’ve always thought of myself as a sort of restless go-er, without the need to really put down deep roots or keep in touch with people. It wasn’t until college and marriage that I started to think of people and places as things not to be simply discarded with a change of address like so many pieces of junk mail to a prior resident.
Last weekend I did something I honestly never expected to do: I attended a high school reunion of sorts. Now, I didn’t even graduate from this high school. From 8th grade until halfway through 11th grade I lived in Grantville, GA and attended West Georgia Christian Academy (WGCA) in LaGrange. At that point we moved again to Charleston, SC. WGCA has gone through much turmoil since I left in 2001 and is now called LaFayette Christian School, but it is in the same location and buildings after these 12 years, albeit having expanded significantly. Some of the staff who have been there for many years decided to organize an event they called ReConnect 2013, and they basically invited all former and present students and staff to attend. I wouldn’t have been inclined to go, but one of the few people providentially back in my life from that era is Micah Vickery. We were close friends in high school, but didn’t stay in touch when I moved away. At this point our lives have circled back on each twice, (3 times if you count the fact that we just discovered we were born like an hour away from each other in Oklahoma). Micah is an intern at Uptown Church where I serve as worship director, and I got pumped to go only because he was pumped to go.
So I jumped in the van with Micah, his lovely wife Blair and their two girls and we took a road trip to western GA. The whole experience was bizarre and surreal for me. I moved in January 2001 the day after the annual Madrigal Feast and performance in which I had a substantial role. For some period of time after that, I tried to hang on to my old world. I had a girlfriend from Georgia, and I remember making trips back for that relationship. But at some point she broke up with me and I think western Georgia just became another shadowy place from my past, another place from which I would maintain no lasting relationships. But Micah’s family still lives in Lagrange, so this is home for him. It is fairly unavoidable for him to bump into people from his past by the nature of visiting his family and going to their church. So traveling with them, staying at his parents house, going to their church, and of course attending this school-wide reunion, all of this was my experience on this trip.
I was pretty apprehensive just before leaving. I had been pretty excited up until the day before, but then I got spooked thinking about the past. I remembered that I had old girlfriends who would probably be there. I remembered that people were in different places spiritually, and that some had rejected the faith entirely. I remembered that I wasn’t nearly the “good Christian guy” I liked to think I was and many of these people knew that. I remembered that these people haven’t been tracking with me and seeing how I’ve changed and who I am now. I remembered that the past is a mixture of good experiences and bad experiences and that all the experiences are tangled and flowing in and out of and around and through each other like the roads at the intersection of I-85 and I-285 northeast of Atlanta they call “Spaghetti Junction.” I very nearly backed out, but Micah talked me back away from the ledge (or maybe back to the ledge), and Friday at noon, we hit the road.