Wherever you go there you are

I couldn't wait to hop in the car and head to Nashville to see my friends and family. I was ready to go back and visit this place filled with memories and dotted with friends. What it's sometimes hard to account for is the actual feeling of returning to a place you once lived.  When I drove by this Memphis sign, the wave of nostalgia that rolled over me was happy and bittersweet and complicated. IMG_1169_465

It was this little sign that made it all real thirteen years ago when I quit my job, moved out of my apartment and packed my bags to head south. On this road trip of mine, I bounced between my hometown friends, my library friends & my old neighborhoods.

IMG_1181_465 My first stop was with one of my oldest friends who has known me since the awkward teenage years. It's like nothing and everything has changed. We compared notes on the fullness of our lives and the subsequent tiny amount of free time we now have. We lived it up for the short time we had together on this Nashville trip. Just being able to talk to her face to face, one on one was like old times.

IMG_9010_465 These guys were my surrogate family when I lived in Nashville. I spent a lot of time at their house. While I spun around town, moving every year or two, they had grown up lives with kiddos and pets and a nice home.  There is never enough time to connect in the way I want to but I was glad to see them. We said a quick goodbye the next day & I went on a little tour of the town before meeting up with other friends. IMG_9038_465 IMG_9055_465 IMG_9073_465

I think any time you "go back home" there's a little piece of you that wonders "what if"? What if I had done this instead of that, how might my life have been different? IMG_9162_465

So when I visit places where I once lived or I return to my hometown, there is some wistfulness. Why didn't I make more friends, why did I stay so long at that job, why didn't I settle down sooner?

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But at the end of the day, it's the things you did do and the friends you did make that count for everything. As Jon Kabat Zinn says, "Wherever you go, there you are." Make peace with your past, in other words. IMG_9322_465

My friends were convening in the afternoon so I headed over to them with anticipation. I see them once a year now. When I walked in they began clapping and holding up IMG_9378_660

their glasses of wine. Within 60 seconds I was sitting with my own glass of wine ready to get caught up with them. While our group varied a bit over the years, I met these women within the first 6 months of living in Nashville. They became my social circle, my support system and my partners in crime. My best friend who already lived in Nashville, the one with the family and nice house, was also many of these things. But timing is everything. She was experiencing family life and I was solidly in singlehood. So the hoochies were born, librarians gone wild. Not really, but some were wilder than others. Ahem. IMG_1233_465

We walked, we talked, we cocktailed, we talked. The nice thing about old friends is they know a lot about your life. You don't have to explain so much. IMG_9341_vpeach_465

“Nothing makes the earth seem so spacious as to have friends at a distance; they make the latitudes and longitudes.” --Henry David Thoreau

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