Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The Anchor Bay Experience (postscript)

I got a nice e-mail from Barbara Fowler this week, and she told me that James Gambino is an assistant principal at Sterling Heights High School in Michigan. So I found the website, dropped him a line, and he wrote me back as well. It was kind of surreal, hearing from both authority figures who suspended me 25 years ago.

I also asked myself this week why I have dwelt so much on my three years in the Anchor Bay school system. I guess it's because there was never any closure for me. I was a jerk (I had a much stronger word in store, but I won't be printing it), but I started to turn around after going on a retreat in 1981, the story of which I talked about in my very first blog entry last year:

My teenage years held the same changes and challenges that teens still face- all of a sudden I was overwhelmingly concerned with what people thought of me (they didn’t think much), I became painfully aware of my own shyness, and I despaired of ever finding a girlfriend. And boy oh boy, were girls ever a part of my consciousness. For whatever reason my parents decided to send their depressed, chronically shy son on a teen retreat styled after the Marriage Encounter event. This retreat was a turning point for me. I started talking to people, who couldn’t believe that I was shy. I went to Mass with these people and for the first time in my life it held some meaning for me. This 1981 retreat was also where I met my very first bonafide Jesus Freak. Ted Thiry ate, slept, breathed and drank Jesus Christ. That intrigued me. He wore a t-shirt with the Resurrection Band on the front. Now I was on top of popular music at the time, but I had never heard of this “Resurrection Band”; however, since Ted couldn’t go three words without saying “Jesus Christ” in a non-cursing manner I figured it had to be a religious thing. Ted even used phrases like “Jesus saves.” Jesus saves? That’s not something you hear at Mass every day. I was drawn to Ted’s energy and what seemed like his love for me. The end result of attending this retreat was that I wanted to know about Jesus Christ. If Jesus was more than a fancy picture in a Children’s Bible, if he was more than the body on the
crucifix, then I wanted to know.
I started to become a decent person in my last couple of months of ninth grade, but we moved over the summer, so I never got the chance to salvage my reputation. I wonder quite frequently how things would have been different had we stayed in New Baltimore. Would I have broken out of my shell? Would I have started dating? The world will never know.

I also got another nice e-mail this week from Leslie Kaye, talking about my Anchor Bay essay. I realize now that even though I don't get nasty and blog about politics, and even though I don't get nasty and blog about religion, I have my place in the grand scheme of things. There is a purpose to my writing, even if the purpose is to make girls cry :) (Inside joke.)

You just never know when something you say or something you do is going to affect someone, so it pays to play nice and share your toys.


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