Tuesday, August 09, 2011

empty houses

It's just a line from your old town
where we're still drinking to the times
when you were around

Last night, I told a friend that we were at what was both the best and the worst party I've been to in a while. The two of us were on the front porch swing, as friends inside listened to music, talked, and drank to our friends who were leaving the state in the morning.

One of my friends got an awesome tenure-track job in Washington state, so both of them decided to hold an empty house party last night before getting up this morning for their cross-country trek to their new home, to their new lives. Naturally, I am truly happy for them both. You gotta love new adventures, and you particularly have to love when someone's career path/dream pans out...because that is increasingly rare nowadays. So a large part of me is thrilled that life was going in a good direction for them.

I also realize how greatly enriched my life has been by knowing both of them. Without these two, I wouldn't have played in a band, got to know several other people, had so many fun nights listening to music together, talking at the bar, hanging out on our back porch, discussing new (to me) ideas, generally and genuinely connecting with two wonderful people.

So there is a lot of good here. Yet they're still leaving my life. That street, that house, they will now just be another addition to the increasingly long list of places where friends of mine used to live.

I've mentioned before that my father was in the military. Even though he made great efforts to try and give us as close to a normal life as he could, there was still a lot out of his control. He might keep us at one base for five years, but our friends would still regularly move out. Starting school each year was starting over. Who would be here this time? That person who you used to talk to during recess? They were now in Guam, or on the west coast, or somewhere else...it didn't really matter where, because the only real important thing was that they were far from where you lived.

When my Dad retired, we moved to his hometown of Jacksonville. The first immediate difference I noticed (apart from the hellish heat and humidity) was that when I went to school that first day, there weren't a bunch of people who were looking for new friends because their best friend's dad just got transferred to the other side of the world. No, everybody had a full array of friends, because they had known the same people all their lives. That, it seemed, was the big difference between being the kid of a military man and being the child of a civilian.

I lived in Florida for fourteen years, and I kinda got used to knowing the same people for years on end. When I entered my doctoral program, though, it flung me back into the realm of short-term friends. Although the people I have met up here are the best friends I've ever had, I still have to brace myself for their eventual departure.

Each year, the list of places where friends used to live grows, and simple strolls around town become an exercise in mental three dimensional archeology. I walk down this street, where my friend is now in Minnesota. This house is one a few people I know shared; now they are in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and Maryland respectively. I turn down another street. My friend from Romania used to live in this apartment complex. I walk past another house, and I have no idea if the dear friend who used to live here is permanently a resident of Michigan or of Norway. I head home and pass the complex where my friend used to live who died unexpectedly this past year.

It's wearying.

I had these thoughts last night, as my soon-to-be-departing friends were holding what was admittedly a righteous party...good music, good friends, good food, good drink, good conversation...yet it was already a prelude to an empty place where yet more departed friends used to live.


Anonymous said...

I Love You Too!

Anonymous said...

Love you too