I sit in the Walmart parking lot facing the lodge a highway exit sign distance away from the action. The filter into lots on both sides of the road. My stomach gurgles audibly. Deep breath. I pick where I’m going to place my car for the night. Go.
I walk towards the doors anxiously looking around for my contact. A couple of guys say hello. I enter the building and climb the stairs. I see the Master of the Lodge and introduce myself. Then I get to use the line I will forever associate with this night:
“I’m from the Internet.”
After that I settle down. I do the test they require of anyone who doesn’t have someone to vouch for him. They try to make me at ease and even go so far as to ask if I wouldn’t mind sitting in a particular spot so that I can give a hand to the newly initiated mason that night. I have people come up and say hello and ask me where I’m from. Whenever they ask how I heard about the lodge I fall back to my new line and they love it. I begin to feel far more comfortable as the night goes on. I may have nothing to talk about with half the crowd but we have all experienced at least one to three similar things in our life. We’re all on the neutral/lawful good side of the spectrum. I fit in.
My “host” for the night is actually the busiest man in the lodge that evening (Junior Warden with a meal and a first degree for those in the know) so I don’t actually connect up with him. The worst possible thing that could happen actually happens but it doesn’t really matter. I’ve jumped the hurdle. I made it. This night’s adventure happened. I did it.
Now I just have to convince myself that I can do it again.