Playing the Host

With summer come and gone, with the coolness of fall approaching, the date to the October gathering drew closer and closer. I was working full time at Chick-fil-A, and living at the city house alone, as it was much closer a commute than an hour or so. That meant that I was absolutely no help at all at the farm house in preparations for the gathering. I mean,  I did some tile work here, and drywall there, but Drew, mom, and the rest were the ones who really got the extension on the house ready for living in. All us nuts were eagerly counting down the days until we were rejoined, and back at house we were busily preparing for what would be 20+ College students living at our house for a week. Yeah, it was craziness, but in the words of my little sister…. Crazy is good.

Finally, the day came. Dad was still installing bathroom fixtures and toilets when people were arriving. That’s how close it was. But arrive they did, full of smiles and graciousness as we completed the rooms for their stay. I got to drive and pick people up from the airport, which the second and last trip included Cassie and her brother, Connor. We had a nice ride back, not talking a whole lot, and asking Connor a little bit more about himself, since I didn’t know him that well. I recognized by the end of the week he had a sharp mind yet communicated with an eagerness to learn, and acted with intention in pretty much everything. He fit right into our “trailmix” as we called it now, since he dubbed himself a raisin. And everyone knows raisins aren’t nuts.

That week was filled with so many memorable activities, some more growing than others. We went to the Zoo, and I lost my sister. Yup, that’s right. Mom went with a few people… somewhere I don’t remember, so I was in charge of Beth. We were in a group, Drew running ahead like he always does, read the sign, and then narrated the information to us… It got old, but was still entertaining. Well, apparently, Beth wasn’t satisfied with Drew’s dissertation, so she hung back and continued to read the sign as we moved on. I didn’t notice this, to my chagrin, and so I looked around at one point and noticed Beth was no longer with anyone. So, I told Drew to go on with everyone else, and I started retracing my steps for about 15 min. Mrs. Gaines came with me, and we eventually talked to one of the Zoo security people. At that point, Mom came riding up with Beth and another security guy. He dropped off mom and Beth, and just chuckled and said “Praying for you son.”

Mom did a good job at not overreacting, she did react though. So…. That was a joke on me for the rest of the week. I do remember Cassie, Connor, and another friend, Emily were the only ones who didn’t give me a hard time about that. Beth was such a good lil sis though because she said “It really wasn’t his fault, I decided to read all the signs and let them go on.” Thanks Beth, but yeah- my fault.

We also played frisbee at the farm, where several played for the first time. It was a unique combination for sure… There were 6′ 7″ players vs little siblings in grade school, First timers vs veterans… And of course the girls on the porch playing the weirdest combination of music that you would imagine for sports. It all worked of course, and those games I remember quite fondly. We went to the Arch, where we got several… unique pictures. We went to a place called the “Old Spaghetti Factory” and enjoyed a italian meal all together. We visited the St. Louis City Museum, where a bunch of college Students got to act like kids for a day climbing on recycled and repurposed junk.

Then back at home we all played various impromptu games, wrote parody songs, joked, stayed up waaay to late, and again, discussed forum stuff. The thing I remember most about the gathering though, was the bible study we did and the hike which we implemented said devotions. Mainly there were questions which I shared from Bill Jack, an apologetic teacher, which we learned to use in prying open a person’s worldview. I love the great comments everyone gave and how engaged they were. We then went on a hike and asked these questions to people we met on the trail. Everyone got to ask questions and was, in my opinion, quite successful.

With all that said, I really did not get to hang out with my fellow nuts much at all that week. We had a few short passing conversations (which I can’t remember…), but nothing like Virginia. It, for me, was just good to see them all again. Cassie was planning a small gathering for March, just for us, and so a cycle had kinda begun where, every six months, we will go to a gathering see each other. Not bad considering how far apart everyone was. This cycle worked great and I didn’t see any need for it to change anytime soon. We all had separate lives, and me being the realistic guy that I am, thought that since we were so far away, after college and such, we would drift our separate ways and be those “College Friends” our parents told us about when they were in college. I was content with this, and so in that contentment the October Gathering in the Midwest came and went, with nothing to terribly interesting to show for it.

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