The Reunion: Part 5

Part 5

The turkey bacon club that I ordered came about halfway through Jed's story. Usually, I just dive right into sandwiches like this because I adore the combination of flightless birds and flightless gargantuan mammals. I didn't do that this time. I was listening intently to every word that Jed said. Not because it was seducing me, but because it made me nervous. When Jed finished his story, he looked at me as if he wanted my approval. All I could say was, "Okay." That's all I had. It would have been totally romantic if I would have had a totally positive and life affirming reaction to this story, but I didn't. The only thing going through my mind at that moment was memories of Starlin.

What I told Jed of my relationship with Starlin wasn't the complete story. I did meet Starlin while I was going to UCONN. He was a philosophy major and I was a photography major who had a thing for philosophy majors. We dated for a long time, then we got married, because we can do that in Connecticut, in front of family, some friends from college, and the 4563 people watching on UStream. Not everybody approved of this union. In fact, Starlin's grandparents were told that their sweet grandson was marrying his longtime girlfriend that he had accidentally knocked up. There was no mass of cells growing inside of me, but there was a mass growing inside Starlin.

We went off for a honeymoon/working vacation in Puerto Rico. In between dining out, getting drunk, and touring the Captain Morgan plant as a “business trip”, Starlin started complaining about a stomach bug. He and I joked about him picking up a parasite at the Captain Morgan plant, but the doctor we saw was not in a jovial mood. Starlin had cancer, a cancer that had started in his stomach and spread to his liver, lymph nodes, and brain. With as far along as the cancer had progressed, there were no effective treatment options. Starlin, the man who epitomized my grandest fantasies, was going to die.

His final words were, "Holland, I wish I could have spent more time with you. The thought of me putting you through this experience pains me more than the disease does. I love you." Then he closed his eyes and took his final breaths. 2:01 P.M., May 11th, 2011.

After that I didn't want to do anything. My bosses at The Ridgefield Press were a great source of support, but they couldn't give me what I truly wanted. What I wanted was Starlin. I wanted the pain of losing him to go away. Not for me to forget him, but for it not to hurt anymore. Then the invitation arrived in the mail. Somehow, the class historian had found me and invited me to my High School reunion. This seemed like a good opportunity to feel something good.

Then Jed told his story to me. No. Not again. Not this soon. Not with the wounds so fresh in my romantic soul. No. No. No.

The look on Jed's face prevented me from just running away, tears streaming down my face. I couldn't lay all the things I had recently gone through on Jed, but I also couldn't crush him. Giving someone an ounce of the pain I was going through at that time would have been just too cruel.

"Jed, I didn't know you felt that way about me. I wish I had."

"Well, I didn't know how to tell you Holland. When you left for College, I still didn't. I'm only getting my head around this now."

"Jed, I want to try. I really do. But, I can't just leave my job, my life in Ridgefield."

Jed got his rejected look on his face. "Oh. Okay."

"But we should keep in touch. Who knows. Maybe, over the course of several late night Skype conversations, you can convince me to come home."

I took Jed's hand, look deep into his eyes, and kissed him. The look on Jed's face was one of optimism, a face I don't remember seeing the whole time we were friends in school. I had let him down, softly. For now, I had prevented Jed from experiencing the romantic pain I was still trying to deal with myself.

Perhaps something can develop between Jed and I. The cards hold such funny things for us. Who was I to know that I would fall in love with a man like Starlin. It's not something that I'm going to pursue though. For now, I need to get back to my life. I need to start developing a new normal for myself.


The Reunion: Part 4

Part 4

In the time before I came to realize the truth behind the delusion, I went to church. I went to Sunday Services, Sunday School, Youth Activities, and outdoor camping retreats to help strengthen the young people's connection to God and to each other and to God. One of the many Youth Activities I went to were Date Night. This was a specially designated night where young couples would be treated to good wholesome activities in order to ensure that the young people were engaging in good, healthy relationships and were not having mindless sex.

The Date Night activities were the activities I dreaded the most, because I could not participate in them. Throughout my Junior High School and High School experience, I did not go out on one date. Not one. No dates, no dances, no football games, no secret getaways to a secluded parking lot in order to discuss scripture, nothing. It wasn't untill College that I started dating, and those experiences were not good in even the most lurid of contexts.

The problem with not participating in the church sponsored Date Night was that all of the friends I had at the time went to the same church I did. In fact, most everyone at school went to the same church I did. And, despite clear direction from elder officials that doing to was destructive to the soul, gossip would spread fast of my non-participation. The rumors of why I did not participate in these Date Night activities were as speculative as they were wrong. None of the people spreading the rumors bothered to ask me if they were true or false or indifferent. Not only that, none of the people who even heard the rumors asked me about their validity. That is, untill these rumors got back to The Bishop.

The Bishop was, and still is, a nice guy. He is concerned about the wellbeing of the people in his Ward in a way that is genuine as substantive. Need help with the yard, call The Bishop. Need help hanging a TV, call The Bishop. Need someone to help you with the troubles you're having at work, call The Bishop. Need someone to help you pack up your house when you've just been foreclosed on, call The Bishop. However, I had never sought the help of The Bishop because I had never seen myself as in a time of need, but there were a lot of times The Bishop called me to help with someone who needed help. So, when The Bishop called me into his office, I thought that we were going to go to work helping someone in the neighborhood. That is not why he called me in.

The Bishop showed let me into his office and told me to take a seat. The Bishop then closed the door. This was unusual because The Bishop usually only closed his door either when he was not in his office or when he was having a serious discussion with someone. The Bishop started the discussion with an inviting tone in his voice.

"Josiah, I think there is something we need to discuss."

"Okay. What's up?" Yes, my real first name is Josiah. Let's not get hung up on that and move on.

"I overheard Ben and a couple of his friends talking." Ben is one of The Bishop's sons.

"You were snooping around?"

"No, I was doing yardwork while they were talking on the deck. The sounds seems to carry far back there."

At this point I was thinking to myself "Why do I need to know this?", so I just responded with a, "Hmm."

"They were talking about the Date Night activity coming up and who they were bringing to it. They talked about several of the people who were currently an item, then they talked about you, Josiah."

"Okay." I was not okay with the turn in this conversation.

"So you know Ben's friend James?"


"Well, James made a comment about you that the whole group found rather amusing."

"Okay, what was it?"

"James said that you'd probably be spending the night of our church sponsored Date Night cruising in parking lots for anonymous sex."

This shocked me. Not just because someone was saying that about me, but because I didn't know at the time that you could cruise certain parking lots for anonymous sex. My reaction was heated. "What!"

"Calm down, Josiah." I did calm down, at least I was intending to calm down long enough untill I saw Ben again. The Bishop continued. "Now, I know that you don't do those sorts of things, nor do I know why anyone would say that kind of thing about you. I thought and I prayed for a reason, and this morning one came to me."

"What is it?"

"Josiah, you've never participated in the Date Night activities, have you?"

"No, no I haven't."

"Why is that?"

"I've never had a date to take to these activities."

"Why is that?"

I didn't understand what The Bishop meant by that question. "I don't understand what you mean?"

"Why is it that you've never had a date to take to these activities?"
It felt like took me a long time to come up with an answer to that question. I knew that I had to come up with a deep response, not a comical one or something of shallow significance. As I pondered this question, the question grew larger in my mind. The question became this: Why is it that I've never had a date at all? Finally, I felt had to give some sort of response.

"I don't know. I guess I've never really thought of it before."

The Bishop looked disappointed but continued to press forward. "What do you mean?"

"I've never really thought of who I would want to date. What kind of person I find attractive. What kind of woman I want to make a future with. I've never really thought of that."

The disappointed look on The Bishop's face left him as, I believe, he got at least part of the answer he wanted. "Josiah, I think you're putting too much pressure on yourself."

"How so?"

"I believe that you're thinking that the girl, the first girl you date, should be the woman you marry. While some couples have that kind of experience, most don't. There were several fine, upstanding women I dated in High School and College before I met my wife. Even then, we didn't have to relationship we have now. A loving relationship is something you have to built upon and cultivate every day. However, Josiah,"


"You can't begin to cultivate that relationship untill you get it started. So Josiah, I want you to make a goal for yourself."

"What is that?"

"Bring someone to the Date Night activity. Anyone. I want you to make an attempt to at least get something started. Is that okay, Josiah?"

I was still a little bit down from the big question The Bishop had asked me earlier, but his message was beginning to sink in. "Okay."

"Good. Now, go have a nice rest of the night."

I left The Bishop's office and began to walk home. However, instead of taking my usual route, I began to walk around the neighborhood, in order to give myself a chance to think. To think over what kind of person I wanted to cultivate a romantic relationship with. There were many things I thought about. Personality, age, religion, body type, hair style, voice, many many things, but all brought me no closer to a solution. Then, as I was walking, I stopped, thinking that walking was preventing me from thinking. I closed my eyes, trying to clear my head. It's rather hard for me to clear my head with tears welling up in the corners of my eyes. I wiped the tears out of my eyes, then looked at the house I had stopped in front of. At that moment, I got the answer to my question. I knew the kind of person I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. I was standing in front of the house of Holland Wheatear.


The Reunion: Part 3

Part 3

It's lunchtime at Televisionia and the lunch crowd has settled in. Jed Harbor, pictured above on the left, and Holland Wheatear, pictured above on the right, enter the diner and are shown a table outside in the clean Summer air. Most people would be uplifted by an environment such as this. However, Jed and Holland are not like most people. It's a quality that they both enjoy.

Holland Wheatear-
Is it always this busy.
Jed Harbor- It tends to be. A nice day like this tends to bring out the yuppies who value ambience over quality. Luckily, this diner has both in droves.
Holland Wheatear- Huh. Is that why you come here?
Jed Harbor- Well, the food is quite good, and they deliver to my shop, which is a plus.
Holland Wheatear- Ah yes, delivery is a luxury for the lazy.
Jed Harbor- So, I looked up some of your work for The Ridgefield Press.
Holland Wheatear- How stalkerish of you.
Jed Harbor- I know. Anyway, I saw some of the pictures you've taken. I hope it's not strange for me to say this, but you seem to have a knack for capturing the family of murder victims in a way that is tragic but not exploitative.
Holland Wheatear- It's a gift. Also, I just shoot a shitload of photos and pick out the most useable ones later.
Jed Harbor- Really? What do you do with the excess photos?
Holland Wheatear- They sit on a hard drive that I've come to call "The Holding Place Of Misery".

There is a short pause in the conversation.

Holland Wheatear-
So, what have you been up to. There's got to be someone in your life. Men who run book stores have a certain unknown allure to them.
Jed Harbor- They do? Anyway, I did have someone in my life. Her name is Robin, and up untill last year, I thought this was the person I was going to spend the rest of my life with.
Holland is intrigued by this.
Holland Wheatear- Really? You have a picture of this Robin?
Jed Harbor- No. Unfortunately Robin was not real. She was a alcohol fueled delusion, one that I quite enjoyed but eventually had to deal with in a healthy manner.
Holland Wheatear- How did you do that?
Jed Harbor- I went to rehab, started going to AA meetings, and eventually got dried out.
Holland Wheatear- Well, it's good to see you healthy again.
Jed Harbor- Yeah. So, what personal drama did you endure in the ten years since High School?

Jed meant this to be playful but Holland reacts mournfully to this question.

Holland Wheatear-
I got into a relationship with a journalist for the Boston Herald. Really, that's the only reason I stayed in Connecticut after graduation.
Jed Harbor- You went to UCONN, right?
Holland Wheatear- Right, that's where I met Starlin.
Jed Harbor- Starlin?
Holland Wheatear- Yes. That's his actual name.
Jed Harbor- Hey, I don't mean any ill will, it's just I've never come across a person named Starlin.
Holland Wheatear- Neither had I, which is what first intrigued me about him. Anyway, we dated for a while, moved in together, then we got married once our state finally wised up and started treating people like people. We had a civil ceremony in a large park with us, our friends, and the wedding planner next door.
Jed Harbor- That sounds romantic.
Holland Wheatear- Shut up.
Jed Harbor- No, I'm serious. It sounds more romantic than my story of falling for an alcohol fueled hallucination.
Holland Wheatear- True. Unfortunately, our relationship didn't last much longer after that.
Jed Harbor- Care if I ask why?
Holland Wheatear- I won't go into much detail. I'll just say, if I ever see Rosie again, I just might cut a bitch.

Holland makes this threat just as a waiter comes to take orders. After this, the two continue to talk.

Jed Harbor-
So, why did you go to the reunion?
Holland Wheatear- Is it so unusual that I'd want to be around people?
Jed Harbor- No. Those people, yes. I mean, you barely wanted to be around those people when you were in the same school as them.
Holland Wheatear- I could say the same about you.
Jed Harbor- Yeah, but I didn't move across the country to get away from them.
Holland Wheatear- I didn't go to UCONN to get away from them. My parents couldn't pay for college, UCONN offered me a partial scholarship, so I went. It's not like I had a rich grandfather to bankroll my education.
Jed Harbor- The only reason Rodger paid for my college is so that I wouldn't end up a drunken failure like my dad. Now I'm just a formerly drunken semi-failure.
Holland Wheatear- Semi-failure? How so?
Jed Harbor- I have no idea how the store makes money. I sincerely think Rodger's just making up the numbers as he goes along.
Holland Wheatear- So, why did you go to the reunion. The way you interacted with Cambra and her husband, it was like you had some kind of personal grudge against them.
Jed Harbor- What about you? You did the same thing.
Holland Wheatear- Yeah, but we're talking about you. Why did you go to the reunion?
Jed takes a second to get his words right.
Jed Harbor- Initially I was against going to the reunion. Then I saw that you were going and...
Holland Wheatear- And?
Jed Harbor- I wanted to see if I could reconnect with you.

Holland seems perplexed by this.

Holland Wheatear-
Why? Why would you endure that just to talk to me?
Jed Harbor- Let me explain.


The Reunion: Part 2

Part 2

There are times when I dread doing things because I know it will be difficult. There are times I dread doing things because I know it will cost me a great deal. There are times I dread doing things because of irrational hangups. This was not one of those times. I dreaded going to my High School reunion because I could just sense that I was not going to enjoy this experience at all.

The reunion was held at the Little America hotel, which is a place I had never been to before. I've heard about this place from people. I've heard that people have quite enjoyed some of the things they've done here. However, I had never been there before that night. For that reason, I felt ill prepared for that environment. That is the reason why I dressed what I call "rebellious formal". Rebellious formal consists of a white dress shirt, no tie, black leather jacket, knee high black leather boots, and a kilt. Specifically a belted plaid, the significance of which probably went over the heads of my other classmates.

When I entered the grand ballroom at the Little America, I encountered a woman sitting at a card table filled with nametags. She greeted me warmly. "Hello."

There is something in me that always perceives women sitting at card tables with nametags in front of them as a threat. For this reason, I approached this woman hesitantly. "Hi."

"Are you waiting for someone?"


"Are you a part of the class of Hunter High 2001?"


"Okay, what is your name?"

"Jed. Jed Harbor."

The woman's face light up upon hearing my name. "Jed! God, I didn't recognize you. Do you remember me?"

At times like this, you would prefer to say yes, that you do remember the person who seems to remember you. For this reason I responded with, "No."

"I'm Cambra. Don't you recognize me?"

I remembered the name but not the face, which is opposite from the way I usually remember people. I still can't tell you the name of the cashier at the overpriced coffee place down the road, despite the fact that I've seen him daily for almost a decade. "No, but I do remember you. How are things going?"

"Great. Are you here with somebody?"

"No, I'm not. Are you?"

"Yes. My husband is standing over by the bar talking with Anthony and Jeremy. You remember them, don't you?"

"Yes, I do."

"Well, I'm sure they'd love to catch up. Here's your nametag." Cambra handed me a nametag that was just perfect to put on my nice shirt. I put this nametag on the sleeve of my leather jacket.

I made my way over to where Cambra has pointed when she told me Anthony and Jeremy were at the reunion. I remember Anthony and Jeremy, but not the person Cambra said was her husband. Even as I write this, I can't remember his name. So, for these purposes, I'm going to call him Husbandguy. Husbandguy had just told a funny joke when I walked into the group. I stood there listening to the conversation and occasionally nodding without actually adding to the conversation. After a while, Husbandguy left to rejoin his wife at the card table. This is when Anthony noticed that I was standing there.

"Hey, you're- um- I know this-" Anthony was trying to read my nametag, a task that was made considerably harder given where I placed it.

Finally, I stepped in to help. "Brent. Brent Allgood, Chief Executive Officer of Allgood Industries, where everything is always all good."

Jeremy actually did recognize me. "No, you're Jed."

This caused my identity to click in to Anthony. "Yes! Jed." Anthony then gave me a hearty one sided hug. One sided because I never have any idea how exactly to react when someone does this to me. "How are you doing, man."

I adjusted my leather jacket and said, "Good. I am good. You?"

"Great. Jeremy and I were just talking about doing a project together."

Jeremy jumped in to show off his expertise. "Yeah. We're thinking of developing a way to incorporate some of the photography that my company does into the television broadcasts that Anthony is involved in."

I was interested. "Hmm. Interesting. The only concern might be incorporating those photographs in a way that doesn't obstruct with the television broadcast."

Anthony was really jazzed about this project. So much so that my attempt to dump water on it didn't affect him at all. "Yeah, that might be a concern, but still, this should be a really cool thing to do."

I attempted to delicately make my exit from this conversation. "Well, I'm going to let you get back to your grand scheme."

Anthony said, "All right man." Then he gave me another hug, which I again didn't know how to react to. "See you around man."

Jeremy, thankfully, didn't hug me as I left. "Yeah, see ya."

I walked away from this conversation not knowing anything more about the people I was conversing with than I did at the start. This happens often with me, but I usually don't see it as a problem. I wandered over to one of the empty tables. Other people around me were laughing and talking and generally having a good time, while I was sitting alone checking my Twitter feed. I was just getting to UltimateGreenWarrior's daily rage filled tweet blast when someone came up and took a seat next to me.

"You know, if they really wanted to pump up this crowd, they'd start pumping in some KMFDM. Although that might offend people to the point where they'd leave, which wouldn't be bad." He had settled into the seat next to me and started cutting down our fellow classmates. It was like Holland and I had never parted.

I took our place in our old routine, slightly updated of course. "Yeah. Opeth or Rammstein might be more effective. I repulsed our Student Body Historian with Pussy off Liebe Ist Fur Alle Da the other day." Holland got a quick laugh out of that. Then we looked at each other. Holland looked like he hadn't changed much, dressed in a pair of Levi's, tight black t-shirt, and a hooded jacket. About the only substantive difference was the addition of a cigarette and better punk rock nail polish. "Hey Holland."

"Hey Jed. How ya been?"

"Can't complain. Working at the family store."

"That book store? You work in the old media that is slowly drying up and going away?"

"Yep. You?"

"The same. I do photography work for The Ridgefield Press."

"The Ridgefield Press? Never heard of them."

"I know. The only noteworthy thing that's happened to that newspaper is they were the front for a fake movie critic."

"Oh. That must be fun."

Holland's face light up in that limited way that his face used to light up. "It is. I get to take really gruesome pictures of the worst events of people's life, and get paid for it."

My face light up in that limited way that mine always does. "Huh. That must be cool to capture those moments then hope that never happens to you."

As if on cue to interrupt our conversation, Cambra and Husbandguy sat down at our table and attempted to interact with us. Cambra first tried to talk to Holland. "Isn't this just a blast."
Holland responded in the understated way I had loved to hear from him in high school. "Not really. I mean I haven't even triggered the C4 yet."

Husbandguy tried to talk to me. "Doesn't this place just bring back memories."

I responded in a way that may or may not have gone over Husbandguy's head. "No, Cobb failed to implant that memory before the dream collapsed."

Husbandguy didn't get it. "Don't you remember this place?"

I didn't get what Husbandguy was getting at. "No."

Cambra tried to jog our memories. "This was where our Senior Prom was held."

So that is where I heard good things about this place from. Cambra failed to jog Holland's memory, and he let her know why. "Really? I didn't go to that particular dance, or any for that matter. Tell me, what was it like?"

Cambra seemed perplexed by this. "You didn't go to the prom? Why not?"

Usually in situations like this, I come back with something that will totally offend the person who just asked me the uncomfortable question that I in no way want to deal with. "Hey, you two are a good upstanding Mormon couple, aren't you?"

Cambra and Husbandguy seemed delighted by this question. "Yes, we are."

I took this and ran with it. "So tell me, since you remember the Senior Prom so well, tell me, when the event wound down, and you two finally got some alone time, which brand of condoms did you use?"

Cambra and Husbandguy's look of delight was replaced with a slight look of disgust.

Husbandguy responded with a tinge of hostility. "Excuse me?"

Holland decided to try and make the pair sitting in front of us even more uncomfortable. "Please Jed, these are good upstanding Mormon people."

The look of delight returned. "Thank you."

Holland took this opportunity to hammer it home. "They probably spent more time trying to figure out a name for their now nearly ten year old kid."

This offended the formerly happy couple to the point that they left the table we were sitting at, which was our intention. As they were leaving, I decided to pour a little salt into the wound. "Great to see you. Let's friend each other on Facebook." Holland and I laughed a little at the hurt we had caused someone else.

Knowing how quickly word circulated through people in this digital age, I decided that right then was a perfect time to go. As I got up to go, Holland said to me, "Wait, you're not leaving me to deal with these people alone, are you?"

I shrugged my shoulders and said, "Sorry Holland, but I can't stand these people normally, yet alone in this situation. Also, this kilt is starting to get rather uncomfortable."

Holland got a little laugh out of this. "Is it that you don't have the legs for it, or you're not wearing underwear?"

"Yes and yes. How my ancestors put up with this is beyond me." At this point I could have just left, severing a reconnection before it got a chance to really start. Instead I did this: "Are you doing anything tomorrow?"

Holland seemed bewildered by this. "Not really. I'm catching the redeye back home, but that's not untill late tomorrow."

"Wanna get some lunch? There's a great place just down the street from my shop that is getting quite a bit of buzz."

Holland contemplated this for a moment, then said, "Okay. Should I just show up at the old store at about eleven?"

I nodded and said, "Eleven is good."

"Okay, see you then."

I turned and started walking away, through the group of former classmates, most of whom I had no idea who was and who in turn had no idea who I was. I'm okay with that. After all, I didn't go to my High School reunion to get to know people I could honestly give a rat's ass about. I went there to reconnect with my old friend, Holland. I think I accomplished that.