Two experiences today.
I went to see a friend today in another department on campus. He's finishing his time working here at the school, heading on to other undertakings. When I got there, the farewell reception was pretty much over. The only people there were myself and one other guy I've been acquainted with for a little while. It was funny though. There was this lack of a point of reference from which to have a three way conversation. When I came in they were working out a way to have dinner sometime; they're both recently married, so I'm sure it was one of those connections. I got myself some coffee and stood at a distance until it seemed they were finished. The conversation moved to the topic of a tv show which, I not being a regular tv viewer in any aspect, I was not really familiar with.
I thought about leaving. How, though? I hadn't even gotten to talk to my friend, and now I had gone and gotten coffee, which made the idea of leaving even more awkward; now it would look like I came for the coffee. So I stood there somewhere safely distant, but close enough to allow them to feel like I felt like I was a part of whatever was going on. My soon to leave friend noticed my silence, I think, and turned the conversation my way. We began to talk about writing and poetry; in particular a poem I read in church a couple of weeks ago. This was awkward; the other guy and his wife left our church a few months ago. He looked like he was approaching the point I'd left. So I turned the conversation his way.
"So, uh, have you guys found a new church yet?"
He began to tell us of a church, then finally admitted that he and his wife had not really found a church home per se. They did however enjoy garage-saling on Saturday mornings, and she worked late Saturday nights so it was usually Sunday that they slept in and...
The fumbling conversation lasted for about 10 more minutes and we finally went our separate ways. I walked back up to my office with the other guy (garage-saler). Interestingly enough, though, as soon as we left the trialogue, our conversation was smooth. It was like the speed bumps were gone.
So I pick up my phone and dial up my voicemail after lunch, scroll through the messages to listen to the ones from off campus, the ones which won't necessarily have to do with work. When I get to the last message, surprise: A friend whose whereabouts had been an unsolved mystery to me for the past 4 years, a friend who had been my best friend in high school (these things don't really change),that familiar defamiliarized voice comes through the line, name which you haven't heard spoken in the first person since...but there it was. I listened to the message 6 or 7 times.