Late night conversation stirs memories

Posted on Jan 29, 2013 in Columns
Late night conversation stirs memories

The three of them stood at the end of the driveway, gathered around a car, talking. Two more cars were parked on the street where they had once ridden bicycles, skateboards, chased the dog and played catch not that long ago.

All of them had somewhere to be, places to go, people to see. But just now, they were in no hurry.

Four of them had grown up together, nursing bruises and hurt feelings, sharing triumphs and new toys, harboring disappointments and rejection in the cloister of close friendship.

One of the four got married that weekend, bringing them together again from all parts of the country to the end of our driveway on this, the last day before they would once again depart.

As I watched, they laughed and talked and poked fun at each other, remembering long forgotten moments of supreme embarrassment. Moments of triumph were recalled in defense, but the conversation always shifted back to those most vulnerable episodes that couldn’t be laughed about then but are too distant to do harm today.

They are bigger now than the handful of human that could easily hide behind a tree, conceal himself in a pile of leaves or, in one case, slip through the dog’s door when the house key was lost for the umpteenth time. But as they stand there, they are kids again, not young adults with cars and jobs and girlfriends; just shy kids with no guile and no regrets who have learned that you can live many places, but only one place will ever be home.

And they are home, just for now, just for today. For a few precious moments, the moon and stars and all the things that make up eternity have paused, holding in abeyance the inevitable conclusion. Just a few precious moments longer.

Home is a state of mind, not a geographical location. It doesn’t exist on any map and it is never the same to any two people. Physicists say that an event can be altered simply by observing it; that the outcome is different when it observed than when it is not. So is home. Home when you are not there to see it is different. It is idyllic and serene. It has no flaws or rough edges. It is warm and safe, albeit just out of reach.

Home never changes, no matter how much distance or time separates us from it. People and places are frozen in place. So it is for me, even though I am still here. Home is that place where those three men at the end of my driveway are just kids for whom that front yard was as big as Central Park.

I miss those days, more as time passes. Time is all that is between now and then, between what once was and what is now but that space is infinite and impenetrable.

I smile as I watch the young man who lived in my home for 23 years but now lives somewhere else with a life of his own that I know nothing about. Like he did when he was little, he talked earnestly, hands moving like a conductor, describing some event to the delight of his buddies who laugh and groan in joy.

I used to be 95 percent of his life. I used to be the sun bringing life and warmth and comfort. Now I am that yard light which shines in the night, hoping he will move close enough to seek its illumination. I don’t like that very much but I know that is how it must be.

The conversation has dried or perhaps the vague sense of loss has overwhelmed them. They have much to share but little in common anymore. Perhaps they know that, that their clocks all stopped years ago and the common bond is just in their memories. They will always be boyhood friends, but other interests will intercede and weave them into different lives, ultimately pushing them further apart.

But I will still be there, looking out that bay window, remembering when they ran on little legs, chasing some elusive dream.

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