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

Neighborhood friends.

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. 

9 comments:

Margaret said...

We can never recapture our childhoods or our first friendships, but there are many other positive relationships that we can form. Even now, I'm finding people who share my journeys--whether it's about elderly parents, cancer, adult children with angst, etc. I value any connection I can make! :)

Anonymous said...

I agree with what you have learned in your experiences. Similar to mine. There is only 1 friend now from my first 14 years and that is only a Christmas card with their names signed on it (not a relationship really). I have often wondered what it might be like to like in one place one's whole life and the relationships that go forth from that. Some families are large enough and involved enough it seems the members do not desire other relationships much. We do not feel any place is home and at this stage of life it can be rather lonely. We do have friends here but not too many. I guess you grab whatever comes available, for whatever it is worth. REAL friendships take time and lots of it. I understand that those who travel and live in a motorhome or some such often find enduring friendships...it is alluring to consider sometimes. Probably having less stuff to take care of gives one more time?

MissKris said...

Yes, I think you're right about less possessions giving more time. We purged the majority of our household when we moved 2/3 of the way across the country. It has been liberating in so many ways. A valuable lesson to us in what is necessary and what isn't. AND what WE think our kids might want as far as saving stuff goes, and finding out in reality that other than a few Christmas ornaments they have enough stuff of their own, ha!

CWMartin said...

Very good post. I grew up in an "older neighborhood." Often wonder how different life would have been had I the kind of neighborhood you did. And the lead quote is spot on.

Rob-bear said...

I grew up in the kind of neighbourhood you described. Only it was new; just being built.

Alas, I've lost track of all those friends. Even our home is gone — torn down and replaced by a monster.

But the memories continue.

Missy Moooooooo said...

Loved your post Kris. Even tho I didnt live long in the UK, I still hold my hometown very dear to my heart. It is like the memories of my Mum and Dad and their families are still very much alive. Then when we go back to NZ it is truely a trip down memory lane. I have lost contact with alot of my school friends. Very hard to find people especially when they get married and change names. Memories are precious and they cant be taken away from you.

Midlife Jobhunter said...

"I've found...it's friendliness."

Yes, we have many friendships that share great detail from our pasts. But sometimes, the friendship that shares where we are right now can be the most needed, most fun, and just what propels us to go forward. Sometimes I don't think we realize that.

Thanks for this post.

Pam said...

Love the quote that accompanies your post! And I love your description of the various types of friendships. While it's wonderful to have lifelong friends, it's also a treasure to make friends along the way on our journey through life.

Steadfast Ahoy! said...

Dear Heart, we can never recapture the past, but take heart, the best is yet to come!
Rosemary