in my junior high health class, there was a kid named paul. i don't think i ever said much more to him that "hi", if that, even though he was in my grade through high school.
when i walked into sacrament meeting today, amidst a pleasant flurry of excited greetings from friends, i noticed paul, sitting in the back. i hadn't seen in him ten years, but it was unmistakeably him. it seemed as if he was meeting with the missionaries, and i made it a point to talk with him, even though i didn't know what i'd say.
the ward's Christmas program ended, and my time was taken up with laughing with old friends and new babies; a good while into sunday school, actually. and paul was gone.
coming out of sunday school, i about walked right into him. i didn't think he'd remember me, and he didn't, but when i asked him what he'd been up to, he said that he and his dad had been baptized in may. i've sometimes wondered what it would have been like if someone from school (of 1500 students and 2-6 mormons) had joined the Church, but never did it occur to me it would be paul. probably because i never talked with him.
there was something very cool about the whole thing.
a few years ago, becky and i got to accompany my dad on one of his high council visits out to a little branch about an hour from here. we got to speak along with him, and i really enjoyed that. (so did the branch; they liked having new people around) while it certainly wasn't going to happen, i have a secret desire to teach a week of sunday school here in fargo. ...a secret desire publicly posted on the internet. it would be fun to come back to my old ward and preach.
i'm home. and i love it.
the longer i'm away from the area, the more i notice and appreciate the culture here: a staunch community adapted to cold, harsh weather, kept warm by kindness and hospitality. i loved being at the mall yesteday, bustling with Christmas shoppers. the snow is so cold that it doesn't stick, but blows in great drifts across the parking lots and yards. i grinned as i wrapped my long coat around me and ran to the car: this is what winter and Christmas feel like, and it's wonderful. today i found out that tim was similarly elated when he stepped out of the airport last night. it's part of being minnesotan.
i like being in my home, too. my mom is being an excellent hostess to everyone, and as she was exlpaining to me that she had set out a towel and where to find a washcloth should i need one, i reminded her that i'm not really a guest--this is my house.
which souded a little weird. perhaps it isn't my "house", although it still feels like home. mom has been excellent in redecorating and remodeling over the years (so much so that, when i got a picture of becky's graduation reception during my mission, didn't recognize the house until i noticed the dishwasher), and some room looks new everytime we come home (this it's the main bathroom).
but with a little memory and imagination, it's easy to slowly wind back time, to remember the children that used to run through the halls, the furnace room that was scary with a sense of imagined adventure, the laughter and fun of being with my friends. i've lived in each of the three children rooms, so much that it's getting pointless to say "jeff's room", because we're not sure which one that is anymore.
it's home. it looks different, but it feels the same, and i like it that way.