I’m not a party-person in general, and I had some personal stuff going on in the relationship realm that made me not want to be at a big, festive event. I was feeling anything but festive.
I was in the early stages of my relationship with Kathlyn. I was deeply attracted to her, but I was already feeling the early warning signs of the relationship’s demise. I could feel an old familiar fear of commitment stirring within me. It was a fear that filled my mind with doubt and caused me to look for things to criticize about her. I was achingly familiar with this pattern; it had caused the deterioration of several relationships in my past. I would get involved with someone, then about six months into the relationship I would start to pull back, usually just about the time the woman wanted me to make a deeper commitment.
Kathlyn was relatively new in town and wanted to go to the party so she could meet people. I had agreed to take her, and I didn’t want to face her reaction if I changed my mind. That was another pattern of mine: To do something I didn’t want to do in order to avoid the unpleasantness of the other person’s disappointment or anger. Finally I decided to put aside my resistance and fulfill my obligation. I suited up, rehearsed my party-smile, and marched forth into the cold November night. Little did I know I was about to have a conversation that would change my life forever.After an hour or so I was getting tired of being convivial and participating in party-chatter. To get out of the fray, I sidled into a quiet den that was lined with bookshelves. There I found another “escapee” who was browsing books on the shelves, a tall fellow with a shaven head, about sixty years of age. We greeted each other andexchangednames. He said he’d gotten