I can’t lie…I was a little bit nervous about going. Thankfully, those feelings were set to the side very quickly. Here’s how things went…
Sunshine and I left the city at about 4pm. We had adult beverages and snacks for people (in an effort to get on everyone’s good side). Sunshine was pretty nervous about the whole thing, too, but for different reasons. She had never really met any of my friends in a casual setting (i.e. outside of my mom’s funeral) so she wasn’t sure what to expect.
We got to the bustling metropolis of Amherst, Nova Scotia around 6pm and hit the local Subway for supper. I know we were asked to bring something to BBQ on the grill, but I thought that by the time we got there that everybody would already be done eating, so I didn’t want us to stand out in any way.
It was another 25 minutes to the house by the ocean, and as we drove along I began to have flashbacks to when I was in my teens. I had traveled that 20-minute stretch of back-road a hundred times in my youth so attend local parties or hang out with friends by the beach. I told Sunshine about some of the stories and it helped me feel a bit better about things.
As we parked and got out of the car, I wanted to act as nondescript as possible. That was going to be impossible as I immediately noticed my best friend staring at me. In fact, because everybody else was behind the house (they have a back deck/grilling area), he was the only person I saw. I noticed him say to someone something about “Guess who’s here?” or a similar line.
He then broke the silence: “Hey CBG…how’s life treating ya?”
I wanted to come up with something witty, but instead spit out : “Livin’ la vida loca, buddy.”
Ugh. How lame did I sound saying that?
Initial introductions were a bit awkward as most people there had met my wife under less-than-ideal circumstances. While she was standing there, I was giving hugs to friends I hadn’t seen in years (in person, anyway…thanks Facebook!). All told, I think the first hour we were there was a little awkward…though it was more us than them. My friends were very welcoming and just wanted to sit back and talk.
It took a little while that night, but I feel like a lot of barriers disappeared as our conversations continued on. Of course, adult beverages didn’t hurt…but the conversations were good. We talked about life, career choices, our kids, and just how lucky we all were to be with our respective spouses.
Really…talking to my best friends felt like no time at all had passed. There were no weird silences and laughter accompanied a lot of the stories that were told. By the end of the night, we had shared phone numbers and added each other to our phone contacts…promising to not wait years to stay in touch again.
As my best friend left, we gave each other a hug. It lingered a bit more than a normal “man hug”, but when we let go and he began to leave, he gave me a look and nodded slightly. It was if to say that yeah…this was good.
Of course, my friends really liked my wife and they all got along famously. That never even crossed my mind as being a problem, though…I know them and I know her, so I knew that they would all get along really well.
Looking back, I’m now really excited about our next potential trip there. The awkwardness will be gone and we’ll have a real chance to rebuild friendships and enjoy life.
I’m just wishing I hadn’t waited so long to make this first step.