Here we are in the 21st century. Where does anyone find out information nowadays? The Internet. If I was going to finally do this, I'd find as much info as I could online & go from there. I found the Grand Lodge's website, and whadda ya know, they're located in the city I live in.
I looked up the 8 lodges in 4 locations across the city, and decided to check out a couple of them. I took the municipal transit out to both locations and found the buildings. Of course, no one was there; I didn't really expect it, as it was on a Saturday afternoon. But I wrote down the contact information listed on the front of the door & left a voice mail. No response. No big deal, as another lodge was closer to my home & much more accessible via transit. I went to this second lodge's website, e-mailed & called them, and talked to a very nice and genuine guy (I found out later that he was the outgoing Worshipful Master). He told me that they were about to do their yearly officer installation, and I was more than welcome to come by for the ceremony & dinner.
I didn't really know what to expect. What was this going to be like? Was this lodge going to be filled with people whom I couldn't relate to? Did the people in the lodge think of Freemasonry like a typical service club, not taking the philosophical aspects as seriously as I did? I wondered...
I went to the lodge, which was very nondescript from the outside. If you didn't know it was there, you would've probably missed it. There was a locked metal grate across the door with a doorbell buzzer in between two 'dollar stores.' Had I come to the right place? Did I come on the wrong day? I was right on time, what am I missing? I was about to give up when another gentleman walked up just as confused as I was. We both knew we were there for the meeting, as we were the best dressed guys on the block... We kept pressing the doorbell buzzer, hoping that someone would come by & let us in.
Eventually someone did. Wow, someone about my age! We were taken upstairs to the Friendship Room, where the was a veritable party going on with about 100 people. Apparently, no one uses the actual 'front entrance,' everyone enters through the back door adjacent to the large parking lot. Whoops. I told them that I was interested in joining & had been invited to show up. Any hesitation or nervousness I felt when I arrived immediately evaporated. I was ushered around and introduced to so many cool and genuine people that I was put at ease in a heartbeat. I met another applicant, D., and he & I hit it off right off the bat. D. had been a DeMolay member in his youth, but hadn't done that much study of Freemasonry in itself, whereas I had done a lot of study, but had no face-to-face contact before that evening.
The whole crowd filed into the lodge room & they did the installation ceremony. All I can say, was that it was very cool. There was even one officer who was younger than me! I liked the pomp & circumstance; it's as if I could feel a connection with all those great Masons who have come before.
Yes, I want this even more.
After the ceremony, we all went into the banquet room where we were all served a great meal. D. & I sat down with a bunch of people we didn't know, but these people were not only friendly and answered any of our Masonic questions, but they had us rolling in stitches the rest of the evening. I walked away that night amazed that these people welcomed us as friends, and they just met us.
Ah crap. I forgot to get an application.