Amazing Parents

Sometimes it\’s AMAZING. Sometimes it\’s just A MAZE.

The Void That Never Gets Filled

I grew up in a small town in the heart of the Willamette Valley.  Although it’s history is deeply rooted in the logging industry, that little town has now become the icon for art and tolerance and hippies-turned-yuppy.  It is clean and prosperous and to be a kid in a town like that was very unique.  It was a nice mix of cultures to be seeped in.  To be part of a shift in a community that sheds its history to uncover it’s potential.  I like that and I am proud to have been a part of that, even in such an insignificant way.

My little town was very small while I grew up.  I would ride my bike up and down the streets at night, knowing who lived in every single house.  And not only that, but I could have named their dogs and their cousins and tell you what their fathers did for work.  And nobody ever kidnapped me, even though sometimes I wished they would.  And I swam in the creek with no adult supervision, everyday of every summer.  And I survived.  I would walk back slowly from the creek, down the long gravel road to my house, picking blackberries and eating them along the way.  I knew my brother would be there waiting for me or at least I knew where I could find him.

That’s just the world I knew.  Me and my cats and my brother and my creek and my gravel road.  For sixteen years.  I was born in that hospital and I lived in that same house until my freshman year of high school.  I could describe every sliver of wood in the paneling and every tree and where it was and what it grew.  I loved that house.  It was all I ever knew.

Last month I had an old friend come back to town to visit his family for the holidays.  I met him downtown for coffee.  In a shop that I knew oh-so-well.  Across the street from the Palace Theater, where I spent every single Friday night of my entire life, we sat at a table by the window.  And he said, “If we sit here long enough, we’ll find at least 50 people we know.”  And every time a car would pass, we would laugh and say, “Oh, I think I know that guy!”  Just then the mayor walked in, up to the counter and ordered a drink.  We recognized him.  He spoke to us briefly.  He was the same guy who walked up and down the aisles of the movie place with a flashlight, telling us to “keep it down or get out”.  He still had a bike.

Would you believe I left that town almost 20 years ago and have literally never gone back until now?  It really has been that long.  17 years to be exact.  And every day I’ve been away I think of that little town.  And all my friends there, and how I knew who I was there.  I knew the way to the drug store and I knew my way home in the dark.  It was safe there.  Predictable.  It was home.  And I miss that.

I have been avoiding that town for so long, for way too long.  I just couldn’t figure out how to go back there without feeling overwhelmed with a sense of unfairness.  Because it just seems so unfair that that was ripped away from me, without my feelings considered whatsoever.  And on top of which, I was just expected to “be fine”.  So all these years I’ve worried about going back and running into people I know and have them ask me how I’m doing.  I would have to smile and just say, “fine”, because that is what they expect.  And I guess I am fine.  I am.  But there is always a hole in me, too, a void, that has never been filled.  It’s that sense of having been ripped out of the womb I needed to survive.  Like seeds that are scattered in the wind, only to fall on rocks and wait.  Wait until the wind comes and blows them back onto fertile soil.  That’s how I have felt.  And in many ways, I feel like I have always been waiting.  To go back.  To fill that void.  To have a place to call my home.  To know who I am and to be able to find my way back in the dark.  Because it’s not fair to take that away from someone.

My friend and I drank our coffee, spilled some, too….and then we had to go.  We walked out of the shop and onto the sidewalk outside.  We came to a crossing where he had to go one way and I had to go another.  He gave me a big, big hug and I just soaked that up.  As he was walking away I looked back at him, with what was probably the saddest face I’ve made in a long time.  He called out, “What is that for?  We’ll still talk!”  But it wasn’t that.  I knew we’d still talk.  It was just that I didn’t want to go.  Not yet.  I wasn’t ready to leave that sidewalk.  I wanted him to stay with me there.  I needed to stand there for a little bit longer, taking in all the sights and smells.  I wanted to look inside every window of every shop and look deeply into the eyes of everybody that walked by me.  I just wanted to stay in that moment for a long, long time.  There is a void in me where those things belong.

I got to my car, where my dog was waiting patiently for me.  I put the keys in the ignition and my hands on the steering wheel.  I turned back and looked at the elementary school where I learned to read, where I met my first best friend, where I chased a boy at recess…and something just came over me.  I just cried.  And I cried and I cried.  It was so cold in my car and my breath was fogging up the glass.  So I just wiped my face and drove away, completely “disorganized” in every way.

I am so fortunate that the Captain took me there.  And that he stayed with me for as long as he possibly could.  I didn’t tell him I cried my way home that evening.  I don’t know if he would understand that.  But it makes sense to me.  And I need to do that again.  I need some more time to be on that street, looking in the windows of the shops and recognizing people that I keep in my bottom drawer.  Because that is what made me, me.  And I need to go back and remember that.  To open up that drawer and remember that it isn’t all bad.  Sometimes it’s good in there.  It is.  I’m lucky that way.  That I have goodness inside of me to fall back on, to remember.  I am lucky that I even have a void, let alone to have the circumstances to even try to fill it.


December 9, 2008 Posted by | A New Paradigm | 2 Comments