I asked Marty, with just a tinge of guilt and remorse, “Do you mind if I go this weekend?”
She looked at me and immediately said, “Not at all.”
“Does it make you mad, does it bother you that I’m not taking you?” I probed, trying to assuage my ever present guilt.
“Yes, but only because I’m not well enough to go.” she replied, letting me off the hook just a bit.
As I drove through central Texas to west Texas that brief innocuous conversation played in my mind repeatedly. Going to my high school reunion has always been a great trip, with Marty. I was going alone, flying solo and I wasn’t too sure how that would feel, I wasn’t too sure if I would be too sad, too melancholy, too lonesome to enjoy my return to my home town.
As the hue of the soil around me began to change from dark brown to red, as the oak trees began to shrink and diminish and the mesquite trees began to take over I got a little antsier, a little bit more anxious. “Yes, but only because I’m not well enough to go”, kept playing in my brain. I already felt a little lonesome; I already felt like I had left my wife behind and alone, I was building to a great pity party for myself.
I’m not a solo kind of guy. Marty and I have been married most of our lives and she was always a great security blanket and name rememberer at social functions. She was an anchor for me keeping my grounded. One of my best buds in school, Skip was going to be there so I designated him my weekend date to avoid the potential feelings of insecurity and loneliness. I didn’t consult him about the whole date thing, but what’s a best friend for anyway?
I discovered a couple of things at this reunion. No massive revelations, but a couple of things became clearer to me and made this past weekend almost an epiphany. I came to understand, by sitting and talking with old friends, where so many of my thoughts, feelings and opinions were born. I remembered, as we relived old days and talked of current days, how we would spend hours talking about life, about people, about God, about nonsense. I remembered how we wanted to reshape our world. I realized in this talking, in this arguing, in this exploring we were really developing our own thoughts and personalities; we were starting to become real people.
It wasn’t what we talked about so many years ago that was important, it was that we talked. It wasn’t what we argued about, it’s that we argued, it wasn’t what we discovered as we explored it’s that we explored. These people, these same people from 40 years ago helped me develop a way of thinking, a way of exploring and the freedom to think outrageous thoughts. This is where the parts of me I most value started.
I also discovered that it’s really hard to feel alone when you are with and around the people who helped shape you who know your foundations. I realized that regardless of the years and time this town, these people, has had a permanent, indelible effect on me. While feelings of loneliness are an inevitable part of all of our lives and certainly more present in mine than ever before; while I did miss Marty, while I often thought of how she would have enjoyed herself, I was with friends and felt a sense of community and common bond I have not felt in years. Personally, I had a great time. In fact we had such a good time, just like years ago, our hostess with the mostess had to ask us to leave, both nights, it was worth it.
I lived in Colorado City for 12 years, for my first grade to graduation. I haven’t lived in this remote, dusty west Texas town in almost 40 years. I hadn’t been there for any time at all for 20 years. It’s a long way away, a long time ago, it’s in the middle of sage, cactus and mesquite trees and I have very little reason to visit. I lived there only 12 years of my life almost 40 years ago, but somehow this remote outpost of Texas is still my home, I’m from west Texas.