Almost sixty years ago we came together at a Christian boarding school northwest of Orlando. We shared an identity for which a term hadn’t yet been invented—“third-culture kids.” No, Ann and Mary Jane weren’t missionary kids like me, but they had grown up in other parts of the world. Mary Jane’s mother was an American missionary, her father a Syrian, and she was born in Damascus. Ann, American born, grew up in the oil fields of Saudi Arabia where her father worked for an oil company. Mary Jane was educated by her mother through Calvert School, as I was, while Ann attended an American school run by the oil companies.
Through the years we’ve connected only a couple of times, but in the next five days we’re going to see a lot of each other. This weekend, near the school in Florida, is the school’s biannual reunion. Because Ann and Mary Jane live even further from Florida than we are in Nashville, they have come to travel with us, both to and from. It should be interesting. Since the time when we were school mates, we’ve each lived a lifetime and raised families. Ann has two sons, Mary Jane two sons and a daughter. I have two daughters and a son. Mary Jane has two Japanese daughters-in-law.
We’ve shared a few memories so far. Mary Jane remembers that back in school I advised her to take the creative writing course I had taken. She loved it and is now involved in a writing group at her church. No, none of us had to sing for our breakfast because of showing up late, but I remember Mary Jane’s first Halloween “costume”—she showed up without the long braids she had arrived with a few weeks earlier.
Tonight we’re going to stay with a friend of ours east of Atlanta, a warm, friendly lady who has a big house. I met her when we were roommates at a workshop in the Philippines. On the way home Monday, we may try and make the whole trip in one day.
At the reunion, I’m going to meet a good friend I’ve never met. An oxymoron? Not in this day and time. For more than six years I’ve been part of an online chat group, all alumni of the school through none of us actual classmates. We’ve become truly caring friends. I’ve met all of the regulars but one at other reunions and been in the homes of two of them. It’s going to be great to see them again—even for just two days. But Tom I’ve never met in person, and I’m looking forward to it. Our group plans to eat together at Friday evening supper—provided the tables at this campground are big enough.
Yes, it should be an interesting five days.