My decision was made so I contacted the Grand Lodge of Connecticut via their website. I have to admit that this was a bit intimidating, only because other than what I had read (and that was allot) I had no contact with anyone who was actually a Freemason. Those conspiracy websites do impart a little ominous feeling, no matter how crazy their arguments are. So, coupled with my active imagination I was a little nervous when I hit the submit button.
I followed a trail of emails that I was c.c.'d on, from the Grand lodge on downward until I was contacted by a couple of lodges who wanted to set up a meeting with me. The lodge I had driven by and was intending on joining, was not one of the respondents to my query, but the other lodge in my city cordially invited me to come over one night and meet a few of the brothers.
I recognized the lodge building from having driven past it many times without much as a second glance. It was not quite as impressive architecturally as the other one in my city, but it was the one who contacted me. When I arrived I was greeted by three middle aged men who warmly welcomed me and ushered me into their lodge. This being my first time inside of a lodge, I was impressed with the grandeur of the interior. It contained ornate wood chairs and benches with blue cushions, banners and other masonic stuff with a look of dignified antiquity. They brought me to the East and we all sat down on a bench to the right of the Oriental Chair. They asked me about myself and my interest in the fraternity. I explained my situation, and they explained to me allot of stuff that I had already read about the fraternity. When I asked about the other lodge in town, the one that I had driven by and was obsessed with, they explained that it was a fine lodge and that many in their lodge were also members of that lodge and vice-versa. After we finished talking, they presented me with a petition and a informative pamphlet about Freemasonry. The man who had contacted me and led the meeting, turned out to be the Worshipful Master of the lodge and explained to me that I could petition whichever lodge I chose, and no matter where I decided to go I would receive the same quality experience. I left the meeting with a good feeling of brotherhood that I had not felt since my time in the Navy.
I was in a bit of an awkward situation. Even after my meeting with the one lodge and its members, who were very nice and welcoming, I still felt a pull to the other lodge in my city that I had originally driven by. Not only did they meet in that building that I couldnt get out of my head, it was a very old lodge steeped in history, so even though I felt as if I would be betraying the men who made the effort to reach out to me, I decided to petition the other lodge, my love of history overrode my feelings of loyalty to the men who I had met.
When I emailed the WM that I had met with my decision, he immediatly set up an interview with the other lodge. He said he could not be there for the meeting but that I should walk in before their meeting and ask for the WM and Chaplain who were great guys. I was finally going to get into that lodge that I had driven past on that dark and stormy night months before!
When I pulled up to the the old brownstone building, I noticed ornate stained glass windows that I had not noticed before because they were not lit from within as they were as I pulled up. The windows had many symbols, a large square and compass, an anchor, a broken pillar, a beehive many symbols I recognized from my Internet investigation of Freemasonry. It is a beautiful building from the outside at night. I walked in and heard some voices down a flight of stairs and proceeded towards them. At the bottom of the stairs I saw a group of men in tuxedos conversing around a table. One of the group noticed me, waved me over and introduced me to everyone present. Again I was greeted with great warmth from all. The man who noticed me introduced himself as the Chaplain and asked the Worshipful Master to accompany us upstairs to talk.
The inside of the lodge room did not let me down. Walking past a 15 foot column with a globe on top we entered into a grand lodge room with a cathedral ceiling painted with gold stars above us. Lined up on the chairs that went down the side of the room were beautiful satin trimmed aprons and officers jewels that the Chaplain explained to me were a gift to the lodge from a visiting brother years ago. They were preparing for a degree that evening and had all the accoutrement's ready to go. We sat down and they interviewed me which again went well and said that they would vote on me during the next meeting and would let me know the outcome.
I will spare you all of the rest of the story. There are plenty of degree by degree stories elsewhere on the Internet that are all very interesting but much of the same.
That was all over one year ago and I am now the Senior Steward of that lodge with plenty of thoughts of Freemasonry to share in the future.