We have returned to Oregon and both my wife and I have noticed something unexpected — sadness, but in a good way. We returned to her Alma Mater today and saw four of her friends (we’ll see four more by the end of the day — two of whom are mutual friends from my grad school days).
When we left, she felt the same way I did after leaving Los Angeles — heartbroken — because she now had to say goodbye to people who — no matter how many places we live — never left our hearts.
Upon seeing Craig and Frances and Ron, my heart opened up and things just fell into place and were comfortable, as though we had never left. People loved us, warts and all, and saw the best part of us … In a mutual admiration society as we reconnected. To sever those ties again hurts. Do I regret seeing them? Not in the least. Would I do it again? Any day of the week.
There is a tenderness in my friends that makes me realize why we became friends in the first place, why we can hug and say “I love you” and mean it. Having lived in New York, Massachusetts, Maryland, Virginia, New Hampshire, and in two parts of California, I am aware that I take my friends’ spirit with me wherever I go. It’s just so very different in person (though Facebook makes it a lot easier to maintain contact).
As we have traveled, I have tried to make this a travelogue. Today, it’s not about where we are, but about who we are when we’re with friends. Though we’d love to settle down somewhere during retirement ( a long way off, by the way), as my wife said, we’d miss the friends we have where we are– Eric, Rick… and the list goes on.
It seems that no matter where you go, there you are — but there’s always someplace you’re not, as well.