The Old Kingdom Hall, memories of old friends, days and times now vanished...
OLD FRIEND (in Memorium)_____________We found the site of our old Kingdom Hall--no longer a place of cult activity--unless the electric supply business has a dark side.All those meetings, songs, conversations! Gone.We stood outside in that eerie driveway and did a 360 slow turn with golden sunshine pouring over us and big old smiles, peeling back the years.__My oldest friend, Quentin, and I realized we'd been on quite a life journey and few good times remained at the bottom of life's barrel.Somehow we both knew...THIS day is our last spent together. Two friends, human fossils in a washed up creek bed for paleontologists to ponder.Well--we'd make the most of it.__We had driven clear across town to the Polytechnic part of Ft.Worth where we'd spent our youth knocking about.These magical locations of Jehovah's Witness picnics, knocking on doors offering Watchtower and Awake! magazines with spiritual "brothers"-- friends...it was nostalgia straight to the bone.None of those cult friendships existed any longer. We'd both been shunned. We had each other--more than compensating, I'll tell you for certain.it should have been easy to find these locations--they weren't. Things change, you see. Oh, how they change!__This day's adventure was certainly bittersweet.We'd stood like jumpers on a ledge surveying the downward path before impact. Old age contemplating inevitability.__We laughed.We laughed too much. It hurt in more than one way.__Quentin had a coughing fit and had to collect himself at one point.Our thoughts flew in all directions.There were, of course, the girls we had crushes on, the ones who got away--we spoke the names of those beautiful dreams like a priest recites a heartfelt prayer.The Sisters from the Dallas congregations drove over to the happy hunting grounds of Ft. Worth congregations. Everybody eventually dated everybody else. Mix and match.Dating worldly teens was strictly forbidden, you see.There were consequences! Way too young marriages, for one thing. A life of shlepping drudgery waiting on a New World paradise which never arrived.Everybody we knew made sacrifices until we ran out of excuses and went off on our own. Most of them stayed rooted waiting on Armageddon. They wait still...A hero's journey of innocence had zig-zagged off the yellow brick road. None of any of it turned out as expected.__"Remember the time..." Yes, we certainly did. Accurately? Well, maybe--maybe not.We lived in each other's memory, supplying missing evidence how once we'd lived with an eternity of tomorrow's stretching like a fabled river in front of us.There were sweet memories. Good friends bond that way.__More than a few shared tears that day.Sweet tears; not the bitter ones.__At day's end, like a cowpoke with swollen feet tugging on narrow boots, Quentin huffed and grunted into his vehicle. We paused at that moment and stared at each other one last time.By god, we knew it was THE last time, we did.__"I love you, my friend.""I love you too."__The sunset arrived and night fell. I found myself in my bed staring at shadows on my ceiling."We're all shadows now," I whispered to myself.__I cherish that day Quentin and I shared like a family heirloom.So, once more I turn that day in my mind so's it catches the sun just so and gleams ever brightly. Medicine for Melancholy Ray Bradbury would call it.__Friends and time itself dissolve like marvelous lumps of sugar in a robust cup of life itself, sweetening the flavor with every sip.I still love you, Q.Always will.
Them was the days my friend
We thought they'd never end
What a sweet "Old Friend" story. Yep -- things certainly do change and we age way too fast.
The saying about the more things change the more things stay the same (something like that) sure seems like the ole cult -- it's still dark but at least its hey day is over, hopefully.
Thanks for the great read, Terry.
Greetings from Tyler, Texas! I was baptized as a child the first year the Fort Worth Convention Center was used for conventions. Back then it was Tarrant County Convention Center. We would always stay at the Hilton (now Sheraton). I remember being upset no longer going to Will Rogers Coliseum because I loved the architecture.
That is how it is , getting on in age, but having a friend who has been through such moments of your life.
Aren’t you glad you both had your friendship for so strong and do long?
I seem to recall that your friend remained in the cult, though didnt believe, really, still. Or is this a different friend? Not the one that brought you in?
@eyeuse2badub I have that song as an ear-worm now!! Those were the days, my friend, we thought they'd never end, - very appropriate!
those were the days my friend
We thought they'd never end
We'd sing and dance forever and a day
We'd live the life we choose
We'd fight and never loose*
Those were the days, oh yes those were the days
* that lyric going out for the GB!!
Such a well written story. I too have a good friend who I grew up with, and then both of us joined the cult aged 18. 55 years have passed since we both met at school, and even though we now live hundreds of miles apart we still think of each other, and get together from time to time. It took me longer than my friend to leave the JWs but we did, and now we look back on our time with mixed emotions. Yes was a complete waste of many years of our life, but at the time it was good because we both enjoyed a great social life. So although now our previous JW 'friends' shun us, (even though we both just walked away from the org) we still have some good memories of being together for all those years.
My two oldest friends from the JW era, Johnny Santa Cruz and Quentin Robburts.
Johnny stayed in and Quentin left in the early 70's.
Johnny was fond of saying "I know how to play their game."
He didn't see any irony in saying that.