I must say I've stayed away from them for quite a while. I haven't gone to any of my high school reunions (for Orem or Juab), haven't kept tabs with anyone really. I work, I come home, I kiss my beauty of a wife, play with my amazingly smart wonderful determined kids, tinker in the garage, clean house, and go to bed. The next day I find myself washing, rinsing, and repeating. And now I am nearly 31, my folks are over 60, and my oldest nephew is out of high school.
Time, like the cliche stone, does not gather any moss. It rolls on, juggernaut in its nature, making future present, making present, past, making past fade and yellow in everything but recollection. Recollection rosies the past. Looking back we do not generally remember the frustration, the confusion, the frightened moments. We remember the good times, the sweet times, the days where the sun shone in and we glowed like the gods.
The days that were pain filled tend to scab over a bit. We mature, and the pain subsides. It gets dulled by newer and fresher experiences, or becomes lesser pain after feeling greater (breakups with girlfriends were nothing to the loss of my grandmother, or the fear of losing a sick child). What a phenomena.
I went to Nephi, UT nearly two weeks ago and it was my first time back in 12 years. It was to visit and offer condolence to Rod and Robyn Higginson at the loss of their son Craig, and I went alone. Melissa stayed home to keep three rather squirmy-at-funerals children in order, and I drove down on a partly cloudy spitting rain sort of day. I got there early and drove the streets where I grew up. The old house was there on track street, it still had coal stains on the brick on the back side of the house, I could see the imaginary black stuff heaped up by the basement doors and remember shoveling it into 5 gallon buckets with my younger brother Dan. That furnace was as touchy as a blind dog, and as liable to bite a hand off what with the auger in the hopper and no safety shut off.
I drove my old paper-route. I stopped several places along Salt Creek to look and see if any of the old fishing holes were still there. Many, if not most of the empty lots were filled with houses now, the small town open/emptiness changed forever. I looked for the old houses where the old couple, Mr & Mrs Alvin Goble lived, another home where the lady-who-I-cannot-remember-now was a shut in, and the blonde brick home where my sister Anna lived. Her house was changed the most--gables had been added, and the fence her husband Darren built with painstaking deliberation had been taken down. The Goble's house appeared to be now owned by a young couple from the swing in the fruit tree. I remember when he taught me how to shock for worms in his back yard with a homebrew shock set he'd made. It was two screw drivers and a split extension cord, and it shocked the living shit out of me one day when I ventured too close into its proximity. I felt a strange longing rise up in me, wishing I could go back and meet myself, that oblivious youth with so much energy, on the paper route. That bo who I was would talk to anyone, and the 30 minute paper route often took hours due to conversations with the old timers. I'd offer a few tips to him, mostly ask him to not hold on to the anger and fear. I'd give myself a hug, and tell myself it turned out amazingly--three kids! An amazing wife! Hindsight is so obvious to the traveler looking backwards.
I drove home after the funeral healed of a long scabbed over wound. I felt as if I'd grown wings and was soaring, lightened from the earth. This was the place where my parents divorced. This was the small town where I went to school and scrapped and worked, finding my place. I had forgotten the joy of those friendships, and what those people had meant to me, how they had shaped me.
During the viewing and before the funeral, I thanked Rod and Robyn for everything they had done for me. They diffused the words I said, being good natured, and said that I had done most of the work myself. And Robyn returned the help yet again, asking me a question so pointed and unexpected I answered honestly. It got me to thinking and facing my old fears, putting them to bed, to rest. What a packet of boyish fears I owned! What a strange parcel to remain hidden in my attic of the mind! It had lurked there, demonic in its imagined threats, only to be revealed as empty and unsubstantiated--it was a box filed with a bit of dust and a few dead moths. I thank you Robyn for the words you murmured to me.
What a tack this post has taken. What a strange healing journey, what a trip to self awareness. The trip awoke me to the fact that I do want to have some communion with old friends. It made me step from the hermitage of my solitude into the social circle of online social networking. I've added folks to my friend list I have not seen for an age! Fantastic!
And I find my satisfaction and inner peace is something zen-like. It has to be healing it feels so good--a hole filled, a missing piece replaced, a gap zapped. And for that, I thank God. Those bits of the past I so feared have faded and in their place I find myself looking at the happy memories, rose colored spectacles firmly pinned to my nose.