Gypsies and Band-Aids
There are a handful of things I value above everything else. Of course, family tops the list, but close behind are my friends. Some of those friends I’ve had my whole life. Those people take up a very special corner of my heart. Those people are home. Home Base. The place you’re safe, where no one can tag you and make you “it”. And when you’re from as far out in the sticks as me, Home Base is a lot like its own Universe.
Those people are all that’s left of “home” for me. My momma passed away, my dad and brother moved with their jobs. Someone else lives in the house I grew up in. For someone as obsessed with the idea of home as much as I am, very precious little in my life remains there. Hell, even those home-base-friends have scattered. Regardless, I’ve always seen us in the same circle. The circle was just much larger, filled in with spouses and children.
I’ve been gone from home for a long time. Since 1993 when three of us got married the same summer. I was fortunate to move back for a brief stint, but soon we hitched up our gypsy wagon and were on the road again. I thought it was great fun. Cute apartments that we moved out of before the carpets got dirty, decorating, new places to go and things to do. Relocating was just a fact of the job and it suited our twenty-somethings perfectly. Anyhow, I still had my friends from home. It was all good.
Looking back now, I’m not sure I made more than two or three long-term friends for at least five years. But that was okay. I was still part of that thing greater than myself and I suppose, looking back, that I clung to that notion and those friends even though I was slipping through the cracks.
Our stop in North Carolina turned out to be the longest we ever sat still, but before long we were gone again and let me tell you, Southwest Missouri is a long, long way from home. But, lo, the advent of Facebook, a fine fine way to deceive yourself into thinking you are part of something that you no longer belong to. I did that. I allowed status updates and emails convince me that I was still some distant sun to those home planets, long since spinning in their own orbit. I only just realized that I spin in a completely different galaxy.
Home: “Are you going to the get-together at the lake this weekend?”
Me: “What get-together?”
Home: “The Home Planet Get-Together. It’s always the last weekend in July.”
Me: “Errr … No.”
And it was just like that. Like cutting your finger while slicing tomatoes. It took a few seconds for the acid to sink in.
When we left Missouri, I was heart-broken. So were the kids. I told them not to worry, that they’d always have those friendships if they worked at it. “Look at me. I still have the same friends from when I was your age. It will be fine, fine, fine, fine, fine.”
I need to revisit that and tell them to work harder. To spend less time boasting about having life-long friends and more time being a life-long friend.
At the end of June, after a long trip to the beach and a stop in Atlanta to visit PA friends who moved earlier in the year, we stopped in North Carolina where Kayla had a surprise Sweet Sixteen with the friends she had from Kindergarten – third grade, when we moved. Four of them. It was emotional for me and (now) I have to wonder how long I’ve known that I no longer belong to something like that.
Probably a lot longer than the two days I’ve been thinking about it.
Third day. Ripping off the Band-Aid.
Hurts like a mother fucker.