Saturday, February 24, 2007

Longing for Home ...

(Hat tip to my cousin Jo and her blog for the title to this post ... )

Last night I got an e-mail from my friend MC. She and I have known each other since about 5th grade. We played in band together throughout grade school (Virginia Lake), junior high (Walter R. Sundling) and high school (Palatine High - go Pirates!). She is the one and only person with whom I've kept in touch for so long, although she keeps me up to date about people from our past (she still lives in the Chicago area). We aren't in touch very often, but when we do e-mail each other it doesn't seem like any time has passed. We try to see each other whenever I return to Chicago, although that's not very often. I think the last time I saw her was around Father's Day in 2005, a few months before my Dad passed away. We went out to lunch, and when she dropped me off at my Dad's house she came in to say hello to him. They hadn't seen each other in years, and although she spent a good deal of time at my house during high school and college, his mind wasn't where it used to be and he didn't remember her very well until he saw her. I remember that she talked to him for a few minutes, and the tears running down her face ... he was so old and frail and was on oxygen 24/7. She's always been such a part of my life, and while I know it was hard for her to see him like that, it was very sweet.

She's married, with a wonderful husband (I remember back when they were first dating and my thinking what a good guy he was) and two absolutely beautiful children (a boy and a girl), a gorgeous home, and until recently a darn successful career in customs compliance (she's decided to be a stay-at-home mom, at least for a while). I've envied her life, but in a good way - she's smart and has a good head on her shoulders and has earned everything she has. I absolutely love her parents, too, and they've always been so kind to me. They still live in the house they did when I lived in Palatine, just a few blocks from my Dad's old house (where one of my brothers still lives).

Every time I hear from her, although we're pushing 40 and have our own lives, it brings back a flood of memories and takes me back to my hometown. I miss that place like crazy; not that I don't have a wonderful life here in Seattle, but no other place in the world makes me feel like that town and neighborhood, and never can. It's not necessarily a sad feeling, but I do miss it. She reminds me of way back when my parents were both still alive, when things were easier and carefree, of homecoming games and rushing to your locker between classes and TP-ing people's houses. She also reminds me that life goes on, that it's good to have a childhood home and family memories to ground you, that no matter where your life is now you have a history that defines you. I wrote in a previous post about my need to be in touch with my past and how it helps to keep me centered; well, MC is a big part of that. Even when we go months without being in touch, she's always a part of who I am.

Here is part of an e-mail she sent to me last night:

I just spent some time reading your blog - - the photo of you on your first day of school brought tears to my eyes. Your Mom was such an incredible lady – and you lost her way too young….it breaks my heart. When I read things that you have written – your letters when we were young, emails, and now blog – it just brings back such a flood of emotion and feeling from the past. What a crazy time in our lives when we were young. The moments went by quickly, but the hours seemed to last forever :) you know what I mean. I feel like even though we don’t keep in touch nearly as often as we should, in a way we will always be connected – and I feel like I will always “know” you. I can’t explain it really, it’s just how I feel.

What a great message to get. All of the craziness of the past year or so - my Dad's death, big changes in my finances (good, for the most part), career changes (I've posted a lot about that recently!) ... she has reminded me in one night of e-mails that it's all a part of life, and I still am who I am. It all is what it is. What a gift.

I'm going to look for pictures of "home" and probably post them soon.


KipEsquire said...

You're fortunate to have people like that in your life. My youth is little more than a pesky nuisance to me.

jo said...

You are very lucky, Matt. I used to have a friend like that, but unfortunately, too much has changed and we've drifted apart. She is, indeed, a very smart woman. Hang on to that friendship.

JoeL said...

That's very beautiful.
It's a nice gesture on your part to acknowledge her presence like that.
I think you are both lucky to have each other.
My past too is just a burden.

Kelly said...

awww... choking me up on a sunday morning... so sweet

Paul said...

Matt -

What a great friend! Be sure to send her a card for every holiday, anniversary and birthday.

I sincerely know how you feel about longing for home.

I left my "real" hometown (a small town in rural Texas) shortly after I graduated from high school and I've only been back three times: one funeral, one high school football game, and one trip down memory lane with my best friend from first grade.

He and I both ended up in Chicago after college, which is where we both had our "formative" years. And now, after three more moves for me and two for him, it's the loop and the near north side that I miss dearly. There's nothing like going back.

Michael said...

(having a little trouble posting comments today--sorry)

It's great to have friends to remind you of where you come from. I have a couple of girlfriends like that from high school and college, too. It doesn't matter how often we are in touch, just that when we are it's as if no time has passed. We can pick up right where you left off. So rare.