Missing Out

pizza box

As a 4-to-6-year-old, I lived in constant fear that my family was having fun without me. This was far from a paranoid delusion; more than one morning I found a Vito & Nick’s Pizza box in the trash. “Why didn’t you wake me up?” i would whine. At that age, whining was one’s primary rhetorical weapon.

As I got older, I missed out on different things, but the feeling of loss remained. Sometimes it was going to Riverview (“You’re too young.”), other times it was summer camp (“We can’t afford it.”) By then I was too old to whine and moping became my argument of choice. Not that it had any effect on my father.

I haven’t felt that flavor of disappointment in decades. Not until this summer when I was hospitalized and had to miss out on the Glen Workshop. It’s an annual retreat focused on art and faith. I know–some of you are thinking, “Art and faith? I’d rather study actuarial tables.” And, depending on the lecture, I’m right there with you. But many of the presentations–new works by authors, playwrights, musicians and visual artists–are really great.

In the past, I have taken a morning writing workshop at the Glen and found it very helpful. Not just the critiques by the leaders, but also the feedback from fellow attendees.

But the thing I really miss, the thing that missing out on makes me want to whine and mope, is the people. This year I’m missing the friends I made in previous years. I’m also missing out on new friendships that inevitably form. You see, the Glen is not just a retreat for me–it’s my vacation.

So, how disappointed am I? When I was very little, the drive-in theater at 87th and Cicero burned down. My brother and his friends got to frolic in front of our apartment building as ash and debris rained down around them. I had the mumps or something and could only watch through the window. A few years later, the old Catholic church was burned down in a controlled fire. Again I had some childhood disease and could only watch from inside as my friends dodged ash and (no doubt) chunks of asbestos ceiling tile. In both cases, I knew I was missing rare, one-of-a-kind experiences.

That’s how much I miss the Glen this year. Even without a fire.

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