I woke up to one of my favorite new sounds: the kids were awake and their little feet were pitter-pattering on the floor while they were giggling and running to attack me on the couch.
I wasn’t sure if I was going to join them at church since I was a little concerned about getting home to cook and stay on my meal plan schedule. While I mulled it over I play with the kids on the floor with a puzzle. As they were heading out I decided to join them and squeezed between the kids’ car seats in the van.
They decided to go to a church that met in the high school that I used to volunteer at through most of college. It was strange to be back on those grounds after all this time and remember some of the times I spent there with kids and the people I met. Aside from Carly, I haven’t kept touch with anyone else who attended or volunteered at that school with me so that was a bit strange to think about.
It took us a while to get the kids signed in and checked like they were a couple of coats. We did go back with them and try to get them comfortable with the little classrooms with all different ages of kids. While their parents were taking them in and I was happily observing the craziness of all the kids playing or just being herded around I spoke with a woman who was familiar with the work I did and the people I worked with.
Eventually we gave up on the kids getting comfortable since they were still clinging to their parents after a while and took them into the service. It was kind of surprising to see how bashful Arie quickly got around strangers since she was usually so in command at home. They stayed pretty good but eventually decided they wanted to join the other kids.
The service was about how Peter had denied Jesus three times, and then how Jesus later asked him three times whether he loved him and to feed his sheep. It had been a while since I’d been to church, and especially this one with a pastor who I’d heard before. I kept monitoring how I felt about the different things he said, what my honest thoughts were, and if I felt at all moved by faith or anything. I don’t think I was, I think that stuff requires you to be in a place where you already want to and are ready to surrender completely to what’s being taught.
Instead what I kind of realized is how much the message was essentially a lesson on the psychology of healthy relationships and sense of self worth through stories for the purpose of reflecting and applying to your own life. It got me wondering how much the purpose church serves for so many people is almost a lot like group therapy, and I wondered how many of those people would have been resistant to the idea of also accepting any kind of straightforward therapy out of fear or pride. As I think about it now, so much of my volunteering as a mentor with kids was to serve as a very close therapist who was able to earn their trust in a way that might be harder for professionals in an office or hospital environment to be able to.
When we got back home we played with blocks and trains and had lunch. The more time I spend with the kids, the less concerned I become with them liking and trusting me, and more concerned about how I can be a good influence and teach them. I had some pretty noticeable success getting Arie to finally let Cullen build the way he wanted instead of completely micromanaging his every move, and got both of them to actually ask for blocks or train pieces from each other instead of just taking it and flipping out. They listened almost right away when I told them that I didn’t like when they did those things to me, and they kept applying it to each other for the rest of our play time with hardly any need for me to remind them.
After we were done with that, Arie had the pretty sweet idea to build a fort, which I was immediately game for. She said that she was the “Director” and started barking commands. Early on when she would do that, I was flattered and wanted to encourage spending time together, but as time goes on that’s not really a behavior that I want to encourage. I told her that I wouldn’t play if she wasn’t going to ask nicely. Over the course of the fort building, she did slowly get a lot better at asking nicely the first time and thanking me for helping. My hope is that will spread to how she treats her brother who she often treats like a toy or tool as her service to use.
The fort ended up pretty sweet and I think I actually drifted to a light sleep for a minute before it was time to clean up and put everything away. Once everything was put away, I can’t remember what the family was doing but I told them I wasn’t going to join them and said some unhappy goodbyes to the kids and told them I’d probably be back again soon.
On my drive back down through Columbus to Cincinnati I sent a quick text to Amanda to see if she was around to meet up really quickly before I was out of town. She said to meet her out so I did and got to meet a couple of her friends Darrin and Sean who all invited me out to join them later at a Greensky Bluegrass concert they were going to. I told them I probably wouldn’t but I’d think about it.
I ended up driving them home since I had a car and they got ready so I hung out with them there for a little while and Darrin invited me to his house before the show to pregame and jam out on his instruments. I went and had a great time and ended up having a couple drinks so I realized I pretty much had to go along for the rest of the night instead of driving home. They were also nice enough to offer me some of their ecstasy and shrooms, but I don’t think I can handle that stuff so I passed.
We ubered to the show, I got some pizza, and I started meeting and talking with some girls that I was around in different parts of the venue. They were all pretty nice, and some were also really cute, but I ended up talking to one in particular while sitting with my friends. She was strawberry blonde, was taking care of her drunk friends, was able to have a fun conversation, and she had a cute freckled face. I noticed myself examining her face and feeling that she seemed like a good person and I just came right out. I asked her if I could tell her something. She said yes and I told her simply that “I think I like you.” She paused for a while, maybe not sure how to respond to such a straightforward statement. Eventually the pause was long enough that I got a suspicion. “You have a boyfriend don’t you,” I asked. She nodded and said yes. Now I wonder if that was true or if she either didn’t like me or didn’t know what to say so she said yes. I gave a disappointed nod, asked her what his name was, she said Trevor, and I told her that he was lucky to have her and that I was going to find some other friends on the other side of the venue.
Maybe she thought I was just trying to get into her pants because I just got up instead of continuing to talk to her, but I was actually a little embarrassed and part of it was that I was still looking for someone to kiss and cuddle with.
A couple of the other girls I spoke with either ended up also being in a relationship already, or starting out seeming into me and then becoming distant. I keep wondering if it’s because I don’t show enough interest early enough.
We ended up going to an after party at a bar where I saw many of the same girls and a couple new ones, who all pretty much ended up having a boyfriend or having that be code for just not liking me. While I was there I got to play with an LED hula hoop which I was really bad at and making eye contact level friends with other random dudes there.
To keep things going, after the after party, we went to another party at someone’s house. An after-after party if you will. There didn’t turn out to be a lot of people, maybe 10-15, but I got to meet them and they were alright. There was a girl that I thought was pretty cute, and might have been nice except she had some pretty thick walls up to everyone. I made friends with the house cats, and when some drugs came out I asked a couple questions that ended up surprising everyone how few times I’ve smoked weed and how I haven’t really done any other drugs. I got a lesson in packing and etiquette for sharing a bowl even though I didn’t take anything that I was offered. Then snuggled on the couch for a while listening to the conversation wrapped in a blanket and the cat came to snuggle under the blanket with me. One of the more boisterous guys who kept pulling out bags of cocaine was shocked that I’d never tried it and was dead set on getting me to try. He said he’s sneak me some if I fell asleep, but I asked him to be nice to me and I think he couldn’t bring himself to do anything after that.
Eventually after the conversation started to feel repetitive and the girl with her walls up kept herself at a distance, I saw that there was sunlight starting to show in the crack of the blanket over the window. When I checked the time it was about 7am. That’s when I let myself fall asleep and took a couple hour nap until about 9am.
All the people still there when I left really seemed to like me and told me that they really liked me. One guy gave me his card which I have and don’t know what to do with.
When I woke up Darrin and I ubered back to Amanda’s place where I fell asleep on the couch snuggled up with her dog Chavi. My Sunday night ended at 10am on Monday morning.
I don’t remember when exactly, but I know at some point in the night Darrin told me he thought I was a really cool guy. When I asked him why he said it was because I just be myself. I guess that’s true in the sense that there are things that I know I’m not and so I say no to, but I still don’t know if I’m really in touch and aware of who I am or have that figured out.