just a show
July 9, 2012
Excited to attend my old home church this morning, I walked over and, having underestimated the amount of time needed for the walk, slipped into the back row after the sermon had already begun. Towards the end of the service, folks were invited to share if they liked. Having excitedly noticed people I recognized from years ago [assuming that I was familiar enough with the backs of their heads to be able to do so ☺], I couldn’t contain my back row introversion any longer and raised my hand. Smiling when he noticed me, my old college classmate called on me by name after a few in the congregation had already spoken. Though few there were familiar from 10 years ago, I told them how good it was to be back in one of my old “homes,” and how hyper sweet all the normalities have seemed to me to be, now.
But as I did so, I thought also of the ways in which my homecoming has not been so sweet: the Fourth of July, for instance. I wanted to enjoy the festivities. And I intended to. I even thought I would. But I didn’t. As much as I am newly grateful for the freedom this country enjoys, and for the privileges it affords, I simply could not appreciate the celebration itself. It had been a usual day of conference meetings and sessions, and wasn’t until the evening that we began to recognize the day. The church provided a fine fish fry for us, and then we planned to watch the town fireworks from the parking lot, where we had a good view of them. As we filed outside and mingled about, I found myself out of sorts. I blamed it on the social overload I was beginning to feel, from being surrounded by so many people for the past week and a half. And I was starting to feel a bit of social insecurity about everyone else seeming comfortable in conversations while I just couldn’t seem to engage in any more meaningful interactions. I felt like my “words were done,” as I had half-jokingly told a friend there at the end of one of our verbally intense days.
Finally I decided to resign myself to comfortable silence for a bit, and I walked by myself closer to the edge of the lot to get a better vantage point for my camera. The show had already begun but was quite a long one so I had some time to quietly watch the show. But I was wholely unprepared for what came next. When the finale began, with its customary flurry of shots, I froze in place, terrified, and I began to cry. What is wrong with me, I wondered? I am emotional sometimes, sure, but this is nothing to be emotional about—it’s just entertainment!
But of course, once I thought about it, I knew exactly what was happening. I guess I needed to be removed a bit from my workplace responsibilities in order to be able to process my true reactions to the life I’ve been leading this year. And I guess it has affected me more than I had realized . . . or would like to admit. But I did get some kind of fun photos of those fireworks; they were impressive, I must say.