Saturday, July 04, 2009

Old friends

We’re finally done performing. It’s hard to believe.

Our next stop is on the upper level of the arena, behind the stage, where a box lunch is being provided for this show’s performers. Of course, it’s closer to dinnertime than lunch time now, but the thought is a nice one.

I’m not planning on eating, because I’m meeting the family back at the Sheraton and we’re eating at the Overland Stage restaurant again. Still, the food’s provided for free, so I follow the crowd of tuxedo-clad singers upstairs and around the concourse. There’s a fridge in our room, so I figure it’ll make a good lunch or snack for somebody later in the trip.

There are tables set up here in the upper level concourse, and several Masters and Ambassadors guys are already pulling up chairs and chowing down. The VM is just grabbing the food and going, though. Gotta catch those dedicated buses being brought in for us.

Uh oh – there’s a lengthy line to pick up the box lunches. That makes sense, when 500+ people arrive at the same time. I decide it’s not worth the extra standing, especially since I wasn’t relying on this food for my supper anyway. I turn around and backtrack down the stairs to ground level, and make my way across the grounds on the north side of the arena to the area by the loading dock.

A couple dozen VM guys are already milling around out here. No sign of buses yet. There is however, for some odd reason, a picnic table out here. One of the sides of it is empty and I park myself there.

It feels great to sit.

After about five minutes of sitting at most, I hear a voice calling my name.

I look up, and to my surprise see the face of Phil Reid, a friend from my days in Colorado. Phil and I were buds in the church youth group and went to high school together. I don’t think I’ve seen him in more than 25 years. And now he’s just randomly showing up on the grounds of the Honda Center in Anaheim, California?

Okay, not so randomly – it’s coming back to me now. Phil and I had recently reconnected on Facebook, and when he found out about the VM coming to Anaheim and our performances at the Honda Center, he wrote me and said he lived not ten minutes from here. In all of my activity this week, I had totally forgotten that he might come to the show today.

Still, it’s incredibly impressive that he was able to locate me sitting on a picnic table bench out on the grounds. (I’m guessing he followed the parade of fuchsia ties.)

This is a really cool surprise.

Phil doesn’t look a bit different from how I remember him, with the exception of some very distinguished gray at his temples. Dang it.

Phil introduces me to his wife and daughter, and I find myself wishing Becky and the boys were here so I could introduce them, too. It’s clear that both Phil and I been blessed with wonderful families.

Old friendships always amaze me – no matter how many years have gone by or distance has separated, they can pick up as if no time has passed at all. That’s the way it is with Phil. We’re quickly laughing and reminiscing about old times.

Too quickly, though, the buses start to roll up, and I have to say my goodbyes. I climb on board the bus as Phil and his family retreat across the parking lot.

What a great surprise. I’m reminded of a plaque my parents received from friends (ironically, when we moved from the Colorado church where Phil and I knew each other) – it says “Make new friends, keep the old; One is silver, the other gold.” I’m surrounded by new friends in the Vocal Majority (heh, they’re the silver ones!). But longtime friends like Phil are worth far more than gold.

Aw, dang it. I just realized that I had my camera in my pocket and didn’t take our picture together.

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