The Road Home
The thing about the roads we choose to go down in life...we can choose different ones at any time.
I think I'm taking a detour.
This year, I've been lucky enough to get re-acquainted with a few people from my far distant past. Almost 35 years past. The dreaded high school years. Ack.
No one was more surprised than me to find out how much its meant.
When I left my hometown, I barely glanced in my rearview mirror.
So long, suckers.
I never looked back. To say I haven't kept in touch would be a gross understatement. I didn't pine for home. Ever.
Don't get me wrong. Contrary to what some might think, I was not ashamed of my more humble beginnings. In fact, I felt a certain sort of pride (Girl, Interrupted) peppered with a generous dose of affection. But, it was a chapter I'd closed and as far as I was concerned, it didn't need to be opened. I held onto many painful memories from those days, I didn't want to dwell. Let's just say it was a dirt covered onion I didn't intend to peel.
Then, life happened. My mother died (The Mother Load). To my astonishment, several old friends were kind enough to come to her memorial (The Things We Keep) including my best friend from high school. I felt awash in gratitude and a little ashamed. They'd all taken time out of their Saturday to help me grieve, to wish me and mine the best. I hadn't held up my end all these years. It was then I steered toward a different road.
I reminded myself that more than one truth can exist at a time. Along with the painful, there's the sweet. I could pick what I wanted to think about, what I wanted to remember.
I picked the sweet.
When my book got published, I joined the social media fray, begrudgingly. I made a conscious decision to not include my high school in my personal info, or to try to Friend anyone from the good old days. Preferring to stay in the present.
After my mother's memorial, I changed my mind.
I've since been graced with a peek into many of my old cronies lives. I've seen their children, grandchildren, dogs, cats, spouses. I've peeked in on their vacations, celebrated their victories, felt sadness if they suffered. Some would argue that a virtual relationship via Facebook isn't a real relationship. I would agree. But, call it what you will, whatever it is, I've felt a part of it all. Even just a little feels like salve on a wound.
Because of my newfound fervor for old friends, hubby and I met up with one of my girlfriends from school, and her husband, during our recent trip to Florida. Just like in the movies, the years fell away. We laughed, gossiped, solved several of life's more serious problems, broke bread, shared wine. She opened her heart and her home to me, introduced me to her friends, hosted a shindig to celebrate my book.
William Faulkner wouldn't have gotten a warmer welcome. I felt like a literary star and the prodigal daughter all at once.
I had the time of my life and I am still reeling over her generosity. My heart feels full with all sorts of warm fuzzies and I'm not a warm fuzzie kind of gal.
Maybe I am now.
I realized then what I'd really missed.
My friends helped raise me. Let's face it, after the age of 12 our friends become our sounding boards, our parents shift into the background with their white noise and unwelcome advice. Our friends informed our opinions, values, helped discern what was important, what wasn't, they helped picked our clothes, our hairstyles and our peer group. They were there during the toughest part of life...adolescence. When your whole life could fall apart if a pimple showed up on your chin.
Lately, when I think about home, it's in grateful appreciation. I remember with a smile how my best friend and I used to ride our motorcycles to the dump, singing (badly) at the top of our lungs. We'd go there to smoke, to bitch about our parents, to talk about whoever wasn't there, and laugh. We weren't allowed to go during hunting season. Our parents worried we'd get shot. Those were different days, my friend.
We'd have sleepovers, which at my house involved working my parent's turkey farm, as my friend in Florida reminded me. We'd have to pick up and chuck the dead ones. That was some kind of fun for country kids.
I have a great life with a great man and all the joy filled trappings that go with it. Kids, grandkids, a home and career I love. My life would've gone on quite happily had I never reconnected with old friends. But, there's something important about mixing the old with the new. It's humbling to know there are people who knew you when and still love you. So, while I might not need them to make my life happier, I want them.
And isn't that the best kind of relationship? One you want only because it makes your already rich life, richer?
And, I am rich indeed.
Rendy Sussan McDermand Wyland
10/13/2014 03:07:07 am
We grew up in the same place. I think we all travel back to Cuyama.
10/13/2014 03:52:42 am
Yes, I think we do!
10/13/2014 03:17:16 am
Interesting. The past 2 years I've been doing some of this revisiting high school stuff, myself. I, too, couldn't get far enough away, fast enough, but now find that we all have more in common than I would have expected. It's kind of nice to have such rich history. We were all raised the same way (meaning left to our own devices) back in the 60's so it's fun to swap stories. Glad you've reconnected and glad you were feted as the returning celebrity author you've become!
10/13/2014 03:54:40 am
It must be our age. We let stuff go, and have learned what's important. It's so fun to find out how many live such interesting lives. And they think my life is interesting...which isn't how anyone thinks about their own life. The feting is awfully fun too!
10/13/2014 04:15:19 am
You made me cry! Blessings....I feel the same way to Kathleen. I haven't been back in decades but after our reconnection I am looking forward to seeing the old haunts.
10/13/2014 05:35:28 am
The downside is...now I really miss you! Love to you, Gina.
10/13/2014 04:33:33 am
Such a beautiful post, Kathleen! There truly is a lot to be said for the people who once helped shape the people that we now are. I think it serves us well to remember & keep them in our lives as much as possible. It's not often easy, but their presence can do a lot to help keep us true to ourselves and somewhat humble. It's so easy to get caught up in the chase for success and we lose track of ourselves. Old friends are a wonderful way to find our way back home.
10/13/2014 05:36:17 am
Ain't it the truth, Marcia. I missed the boat for a lot of years. But, life works out. Now I can really appreciate them.
10/13/2014 05:35:20 am
Love the blog as usual. Makes me think of my hometown and how much I miss those old days and my best friend. She isn't on FB and I sometimes wish she were.
10/14/2014 09:09:20 am
That's the worse part...now I miss them! Thanks for your faithful support of my blog, Suzie. I really appreciate it.
Mary Wilke Glagovich
10/13/2014 11:15:34 am
Wow! Such powerful thoughts! We were raised in pretty amazing place. In all the trappings of a small town, come the best friends, family & extended family ever!
10/14/2014 09:10:14 am
Indeed, Mary. Now I feel really lucky. Thank you for reading and commenting. So nice to see you here.
I understand exactly what you mean. When we moved in high school I left all of my growing years behind with the pain. I kept the best friend but that is it. Now it is time for the HS reunion for the HS I wasn't able to graduate from due to my, well, crazy family. So I'm going with the best friend as her "date". Because you can, from a distance, forget the pain and remember the laughter.
10/14/2014 09:11:15 am
Yes, its the distance that helps us with perspective. Have a great time with your "date" at the reunion!
10/14/2014 11:21:57 am
It's the upside to the whole social media thing, for sure. I'm grateful.
10/15/2014 01:07:37 am
Kathleen ... well said my friend! "Home town growing up friends" are simply the best! Life moves on and we create many more friends .. for which I am so blessed (that includes you my dear) ... but I try to never lose touch with those that shaped my life! In fact, it's just the opposite for me ... I quite often get on FB to find someone that just pops into my head from years ago and reconnect if I find them! Thanks for your story ... once again, another great blog!!
10/15/2014 04:10:23 am
I've been doing that too. I've found several! Thanks Sandy, you rock.
Rendy Sussan McDermand Wyland
10/15/2014 01:34:13 am
10/15/2014 02:47:24 am
10/15/2014 08:40:38 am
Oh those were the days. I remember singing together. I'm sorry to hear about your mom. She was a wonderful woman. I know how hard it is to lose a parent. My mom passed over 20 years ago and I still miss her. We lost dad about a year and a half ago. On the brighter side I have a new wonderful man in my life. I have my first grandbaby due on December 15th
10/15/2014 09:20:29 am
Those were glorious days, Stacey! I still think about when you came to Germany. What fun that was. How in the world can we be grandma's already? I'm so happy for you. A good man is worth the wait and all the crap that comes before. I'm so happy to see you here and I'm so grateful that you read my blog and took the time to comment. Hugs to you.
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