What I do recall from those days in early 1980's was a commercial for Head and Shoulders shampoo that said, "You never get a second chance to make a first impression." It was a quote by Oscar Wilde.
Well, this was our second chance. And the timing was perfect. Here we were, two adults from rival high schools getting to know one another without the teenage nerves or drama.
As I would learn, Gay has spent these last forty years staying super busy. “I always have projects.” She has worked as a Controller for a private technology company, and has worked as an IT special as well. She has a Masters in Statistics. And now works as a commercial property assessor. She has raised three children and faced numerous personal challenges along the way. Through it all, she has remained married to the same man for 29 years. “I used to tell him that he was my rebound.” We both agreed that marriage is always better the second time around.
So here are a few things that Gay has done since we last met in Indian Rocks Beach, back when I was a surfer and she the cheerleader. After high school, she started going by her birth name, and not her middle name. After a very brief, and regrettable marriage, Gay met a man who sang Elvis to her and married him a few years later. “I don’t even like Elvis, but it worked.” Like me, she grew up sailing.
She and her husband once owned a 35’ Hunter sailboat. She is also a water person. “I love to scallop and scuba dive.” She has shot a crossbow. “I only did it once, but I have pretty good aim.” She learned how to use a gun when a child her dad would take her hunting and let her shoot oranges off the trees.
Her favorite Muppet is Kermit. “He’s sweet and goofy. And he loves everybody.” I like to think that is why our friend wanted us to meet again. Like Kermit, there is an authentic, gentle spirit that radiates from Gay and a confident wisdom gained from years of living that spirit in the world. She too is loving and gives of her time to care for others. She likes to smile and laugh. Even in difficult situations, Gay is able to find hope and strength to persevere.
When asked to describe herself in ten words or less Gay admits, “I am complex, persistent, light-hearted, overly caring and a little chaotic.” These are traits we learn at a very early age. But aren’t fully realized until we’ve lived and wrestled with them for a while. Our time together wasn’t so that we could remember our past , “I thought you were really cute” (included for posterity reasons only) but so we could be fully present, in this moment where life is a little chaotic to say the least.
“Everything I’ve been through has got me to where I am today. I wouldn’t change anything.” I can’t go back in time, to that day she walked into my bedroom. Nor can she go back and tell her younger, teenage self not to “drink a bottle of wine all by myself after ballet practice.”
It may have taken four decades to understand that “things happen for a reason. We are given some hard things to help us later on in life.” Although Gay missed our original interview earlier this month, I am thankfully I had one day left on my calendar for her to get a second chance to make a first impression.
An ex-copywriter turned punk rock pastor and peacemaker who dedicates his life to making the world a better place for all humanity.
"that they all might be one" ~John 17:21
“Prius vita quam doctrina.”
~ St. Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274)
* “Life is more important than doctrine.”