As I did so I felt this desire to join. This desperation to be a part of something that meant I could relate and communicate with in person instead of online or with people that were decidedly theist. I didn't want to debate. Just talk. But the guy responded and soon enough I was on my way to my first meeting with other people like me.
My friendship with them was a roller coaster ride. It was a breath of fresh air and friendships were made based on a common "us against them" mentality. We had our own inside jokes, stories, and vocabulary that set us apart from others. The group grew and grew over the year I was with them. New faces and new stories were added to the group. Some people were able to jive with the group immediately and others drifted or took a lot longer to become incorporated into the group. But we bonded and became close. We were like a fire burning bright, hot, and too fast.
Soon we began to move away from each other. Some moved to Salt Lake City and others to states both near and far. What began with a close friendship became distant and spread out. Some tried drugs and bonded with others in the group based on that connection. Others became bonded on commonality of attraction. But we still were not meant to last.
The group was the starting point. It was the starting point for me. Like USGA, it was not a place to be forever in. So many of us were in a temporary place. For some it was college and for others it was waiting to find a chance to go somewhere else. For me, it was finding a sense of self in a community. A place I could call home.
They filled that emptiness inside me just like USGA did. They filled that lack of family that I yearned for and stood by my side during the hard times. Yet when fall arrived, I knew that my place among the group was not outdated. Old. I was one of the few people that had been in the group for a while. I didn't need to argue about the problems of religion (and there are many), why drugs should be legalized, why Utah is crazy, and so on. I had discussed most of that already.
By the time 2011 was drawing to a close, I knew that I needed to move on. I needed to say goodbye and let go. Most everyone I knew already had. What was left for me now?