Saturday, January 7, 2012
When you finally go back to your old hometown, you find it wasn’t the old home you missed but your childhood. ~ Sam Ewing
This is not a photo of me with mine, but it could be. The time period is right. The clothes and haircuts are right. I found it when I Googled "neighborhood friends" and I loved it. Hopefully I'm not abusing any copyright laws by using it.
In the years when I was around the ages these kids appear to be, neighborhoods in small towns across America were loaded with children. Our neighborhood was no exception. In my family I had three brothers. One family had 10 kids. Another family had 6 boys. A few other families had two or three kids. Summer twilight games outside were amazing fun with so many playing Hide 'n' Go Seek or sandlot baseball or games we dreamed up on the spot.
My family moved away from my hometown in 1966. We moved to the Portland, Oregon, area which was around 150 miles away. On occasion we'd take a drive back for a day so my mom could visit one of my grandfathers in Hoquiam. Most of the time we kids didn't want to visit him...we wanted to be dropped off with friends in our hometown. I can not tell you how devastated I was by that move. I can not tell you how much I missed my childhood friends. And thru the years I lost contact with most of them.
Then along came the internet. People searches. Alumni sites. All kinds of ways to find and reconnect with people. And I've found a few of my childhood friends. Or they have found me. Even tho 46 years have passed since I lived there and many moved away in adulthood there is still some kind of bond there between us. Shared memories, shared histories. It is an amazing thing to sit down face-to-face with one and pour over what would've been my high school Senior yearbook if I'd still been there. To find out who's died or found success and those who never moved away. We could remember most of those kids all the way back to first grade. Most amazing of all was to actually be sitting across a restaurant table, spending time with one of those childhood friends whom I hadn't seen in 45 years. We reconnected just before my family moved to Michigan. I feel so blessed to have seen her one more time.
And now, here I am at 58. 2400 miles from home. In a city where no one shares any history with me at all. I have become friendly with many since moving here but at this age, at this stage, I don't know if I'll ever be able to form that intimacy that comes with really knowing someone. How does one find the time, in the busyness of life? But the lovely thing about friendship is it comes on many levels...from the acceptance and welcoming we've received from a small community church we've been attending to have some face-to-face fellowship with other Christians...from our neighbor Donna who is one of the loveliest people I've ever met...from all the people who cross my path in a day. Friendship itself isn't what's most important, I've found...it's friendliness. A smile, a shared greeting, a wave across the street. Just knowing you're acknowledged, a part of the community...it makes all the difference in the world.
I have been thinking some lately about the things I will probably never see again in my lifetime. When you move as far away as I have, you don't go 'home' every day. But you know, it's not the physical part of being there that you take with you anyway. It's the memories. It's what you tuck away in your heart for safe keeping.