Thursday, March 13, 2008

It's only been 192,720 hours...

It’s been 22 years since I saw my friend Randy. Twenty-two years is a long time. The older I get the shorter time seems, but no matter; 22 years is a darn long time.

This Sunday we’re going to see each other again. I am very excited to have him meet my family, and I can’t wait to meet his wife and kids. It will be great to catch up on what we’ve been doing for the past 20 years (between us we have seven kids so I know at least one thing we’ve been doing) and I know it will be fun to reminisce about the summer we spent together with 25 other teenagers building an auditorium in Sintra, Portugal.

The summer of 1986 found me and Randy on the same Teen Missions team. We spent two weeks training in Florida, and then flew to Portugal where we did construction work for four weeks. After that we bussed from Portugal, though Spain, France, Germany and Poland as we made our way to Moscow. (It was only a few months after Chernobyl; my grandmother was appalled that my parents let me go.) We smuggled in Bibles and other Christian literature and were able to distribute them to leaders of secret home churches in Moscow, Leningrad (now St. Petersburg), and Estonia. It was well before the fall of the Berlin Wall and we thought we were so cool and brave and daring. It was an excellent opportunity for a bunch of teenagers to watch things happen that could only have occurred as a result of God’s direct involvement. What else explains how so many of us got through the very intense border guards’ questioning while wearing shirts declaring we were going to, “Get Dirty for God”?

So I’m going to see Randy after 22 years. March, 2008 finds me looking nothing like I did in August, 1986. In the past 22 years I have had three children and gained and lost and gained a gazillion pounds and I do not look like what Randy remembers. If Randy is anything like Sean then he will look nearly the same with a few gray hairs. I am distressed at the thought that he won’t recognize me. I have been fighting the urge to schedule emergency plastic surgery to remove half myself so I will half-way resemble my teenaged self. If we had ten grand lying around I just might have done it…

I’ve also tried to embrace the concept of, “But all those lines and wrinkles and stretch marks are a tribute to a well-lived and God-blessed life.” True. But that truth gets drowned out by the voice in my head I hear when I look in a mirror.

Since I fancy myself a bit of an optimist I’ll look on the positive side: at least I’m not so vain that I cancelled the trip.

These feelings are just scratching the surface of the fear and dread I sense at my upcoming 20th high school reunion…

Me and Randy in 1986 at Boot Camp in Merritt Island, Florida