Making Space and Losing Things

May 8, 2013

I don’t care what people say, unless a woman lives under a rock, she is probably prepared for childbirth. And everybody knows that time goes by quickly, that one day they are babies and the next, they are slamming doors and smoking pot, (or so I’ve been told). These are two truths that are always brought up when the conversation turns to the things in life that surprise us, and tell me, is there anyone you know that isn’t aware that having a baby hurts a lot, and time flies, even if you aren’t having fun.

What no one ever mentioned to me when I was younger was all the people I would lose as I got older. I’m not talking about death, or break ups. I’m talking about the friends and family that have quietly disappeared from my life. I was talking to my daughter the other day about a  photo we have on the mantel, she is a baby, swaddled in the every girl baby must have, a pink blanket, and she is held by a smiling Uncle John. After admiring herself, she pointed at the smiling Uncle John. “Who’s that?”, she asked. “Uncle John, you remember Uncle John!” “I don’t remember Uncle John. Is he your brother, or Daddy’s brother?” “He’s a friend of our family. He’s, he’s, he is your Uncle John. He lives in Dorchester.” She stared at me blankly. Katy doesn’t know where Dorchester is, she doesn’t care where Dorchester is, and she can’t figure out why I seem to expect her to figure out who this smiling man in the picture is based on a location she only hears about when her father is talking about traffic. “He gave you that blanket,” I remember. I watch her face.

“Mom, I was a baby then. I don’t remember getting that blanket. I can’t even remember what I had for lunch last week. When was the last time I saw him?”

And I thought about it. And I thought about it some more. It’s been a long, long time since I’ve seen my dear friend John. A long, long time since I’ve seen Simon, or Alex or talked to Patricia  on the phone. It’s been years since I discussed literature with my cousin Daniel. Decades since I laughed with Andy, listened to Kent play the guitar or listened to Andrea whine about her husband.

So many people have slipped out of my life when I wasn’t looking. I know everyone is connected these days, and almost anyone can be found, but how would I start a conversation with some I haven’t spoken to in twenty years- “Hey, having a baby, really hurt, hunh? And did you check out how summer seems to go by in a week these days?”

Some people fade away because of geography, some disappear, or fall out of touch as one settles down, and one climbs the corporate ladder. And what makes me sad, when I think about these people that I have loved and lost, is that I miss them. I miss them when I hear a song, or glance at a photo, see someone driving down the street with a familiar profile. Some many of these people are always just on the edge of mind, like a lost library book, or a dream hours after waking up.

Honestly, I don’t have the time right now to reach out to these people whose numbers filled my phone books (remember phone books?), sat across from me in restaurants, got me on guest lists, toasted me at midnight, and brought me aspirin in the morning.

My life is fuller than it’s ever been. Two kids that have reached the ages where I drive them around a lot. And I’m happy to because some days that’s the only time I get to speak to them.

In the past five years, I’ve created a whole new circle of friends, in the town where I live. They are wonderful people, they appreciate good books, often offer me really nice wine, and read the NY Times.   lot of them have kids too, and commiseration can be fun. I love these new friends of mine fiercely, and make sure I let them know as often as I can without seeming either needy or stawkerish. I only wish sometimes they knew a little more of my history, who I was before I became Julie, mom/writer/student/lousy housekeeper/sometimes funny, usually kind, when cranky I don’t speak much. The Julie from before was an interesting woman but kind of a mess.

I guess it’s not surprising I’m missing some people from before. And even though Julie 2.0 has things a little more together, I’m sure there are some friends that will fall off the radar as I move forward thru the rest of my life.

I just wish I had known when I started to make friends, real friends, not those based on proximity or the first letter of a last name, that I wasn’t going to stay friends with most of them. I would have liked to have been a little more attentive, taken more pictures, maybe told a few what I found so special about them. I wish I’d known, just a few times, when I was spending time with someone that I was never going to see again. Or that I could have been a little more aware all along that not everyone we love stays on our speed dial forever.

No one warned me about that so I just told you. What you do with the information is your own business. Maybe you were in a sorority 30 years ago, and text your sisters every time you are at a stop light. Maybe your families is just like the Waltons. Maybe you don’t have any friends and you don’t want them. But you’ve read this far, so I’ll end with what I’ve been trying to say all along.

Everyone always tells you to hold your kids close, they grow up so damn fast. All I’m trying to say is hold all the other people in your life that you love close by too.

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3 Responses to “Making Space and Losing Things”

  1. Love this. or a dream, hours after waking. I love that feeling of sudden recall, that just pops into clarity, even the colors and motions, are all at once there. Just like it was brought to your attention, this minute, but you’ve seen it before, and try to see the next image, and it fades away.

  2. I like the theme a lot. And lots of good stuff. I think could be trimmed, but nice to read.

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