October 25, 2004
Sometimes when I encounter childhood friends I have not seen in almost 20 years there is a subtle instinctual reaction of recoil and sadness before the hellos and hugs. We look at each other's faces trying to push away the years and see the person that was. Perhaps the sadness comes from seeing our own aging reflected or perhaps it comes from all that we have missed from each other's lives and of friendship unraveled. Voices don't change much though. Speaking bridges the gap and helps bring us back. A familiar laugh can do much to ease the divide.
I ran into a friend this morning. She was shopping with her 17 year old daughter who was born when her mom was 19. The daughter looked more like my memory of the mother than the mother did and I had to stop myself from staring. When the daughter waved goodbye she sparked the memory of the last time I had seen the mom... it was a late night high school graduation party out near Zed Creek. She was holding court on a diving board above a pool full of revelers and caught me slipping out the back gate. She alone noticed my exit, smiled, and waved for me to come back... Although I wanted to, I acted like I hadn't seen her, turned my back, and walked into the darkness. I remember the stars above the pines that night. I remember standing out by my truck looking back on the scene and I remember the Earnest Tubb on the radio as I drove away down the gravel road.
That whole complicated humid evening of June 85 came back to me complete in the moment of the daughter's wave... but of course I said nothing, waved back to mother and daughter, and continued on.