A few weeks back, I was contacted by a friend from my high school days. She asked a handful of questions about how life has changed in the 20+ years since we’ve seen one another. But prior to my talking about the questions – a little background information seems to be appropriate.
My friend – we will call her “J” – went to a public high school in Shreveport, Louisiana. I, on the other hand, was in an all-boys, Catholic, college-preparatory school. We knew each other through a mutual friend, a classmate of mine, whom she was dating at the time. She was aware that the school was Catholic, and made appropriate assumptions on my upbringing in relation to the school I was in. The truth of the matter was far from that assumption though. My parents were not religious, but if pressed for a “label” – they would have chosen “protestant”. So, the assumption that I was a card-carrying Catholic was incorrect by that standard. On top of that, I chose no religious label for myself. During my senior year of high school, I spent a lot of time looking into the Southern Baptist aspect of Christianity. So, with that background – let’s come back to J’s questions for me.
Her first question – related to religious belief – came as a query of whether I was still attending “church”. The implication was clear – she was asking if I was “still a practicing Catholic”. My response was that I had stepped over to Paganism approximately two years after I graduated from high school (about a year and a half after we lost contact with one another) – and continued to follow that particular Path to this day. Her next question was “Oh, so you’re Wiccan?” Which lead to a lot of serious discussions that have taken place since then in both eMail and IM-Chat. Its taken a while to get her to understand that not every Pagan is a Wiccan – and that there is a distinct difference between the two Paths. Over the past few eMails, I’ve introduced the framework of Druidry to the conversation as well, which has led to all kinds of extra questions from her.
Oddly enough, this particular exercise of answering queries from someone who knew me better than anyone else during my high school years has show me one thing: I need to work on my patience. LOL Its a lot easier, in my opinion, to discuss the concepts of Paganism with someone who understands that there are so many different Paths on the walkways of Paganism – and that trying to understand all of them is a near impossibility.
But, the conversations have also shown me more than that – that after peeling back the layers of so many years, I’m still essentially the “Puckish Elf” that J remembers from those days. There are some extra scars, which those layers have helped cushion and hide – there are some experiential moments that have changed my perspective on some topics — but under all of that, I’m still me. J and I still laugh at one another’s jokes, the same way we did before. We still get completely goofy, and tease one another the way we used to. Yeah, there’s a lot less hair – for both of us – and there’s some extra pounds added over the years…but essentially we’re the same friends we’ve always been. And that’s a really comforting thought….