I wrote this in March:
One of my childhood friends died this week.
It’s wild because I feel like I had just reconnected with him- in millennial terms that is. We were keeping in touch as we just added each other on Instagram a few years ago, routinely leaving comments and liking photos. I felt like I really had a glimpse in his life post high school. As a late twenty something year old, (at the time) I was fascinated with how much he had changed, but for the most part, stayed exactly the same.
It was 5 am when my brother texted me that he died.
After the immediate shock and confusion, I automatically followed up with “I feel like I just spoke to him.” But that was a lie.
In reality I hadn’t spoken to him in years. I mean REALLY spoken to him. Like how we used to in between making jokes and rolling our eyes at our social studies teacher.
Senior yearbook day was probably the last meaningful conversation we had.
I have no idea why or how he died. I hate that I don’t know.
I have no idea what thoughts kept him awake at 3am.
I do not know what made him sad, fearful, depressed, or anxious.
I had no idea what his thirty something hopes were, any of his goals or new ambitions.
Amber and memories keep us warm; and it was the nostalgia of what once was, that kept us falsely connected.
One of the more difficult aspects of life that I am learning is that:
you can’t go home again.
You can sometimes return to the physical space, but never to the idea of what was or used to be. Eventually what you remember and how you remembered it won’t actually be anything. Home is something that I have found to be a feeling that we carry with us until we don’t. It’s an unrecoverable era that has shaped and formed our lives until it just didn’t any longer. This includes the people and spaces that belonged into the idea of what home used to be.
One of the most prominent and influential coming of age movies in my young adult formative years is Garden State (2005). It’s a movie about about a dude named Andrew Largeman and his return home after several years due to his mother’s death. He’s confronted by several aspects of his childhood in this movie, but also has this way of processing past experiences with new insights through deep conversations. There’s a scene in the movie that I will always take with me. It’s where Andrew discusses his ideas of what home actually means:
“You know that point in your life when you realize the house you grew up in isn’t really your home anymore? All of a sudden even though you have some place where you put your shit, that idea of home is gone. One day when you move out it just sort of happens one day and it’s gone. You feel like you can never get it back. It’s like you feel homesick for a place that doesn’t even exist. Maybe it’s like this rite of passage, you know. You won’t ever have this feeling again until you create a new idea of home for yourself, you know, for your kids, for the family you start, it’s like a cycle or something. I don’t know, but I miss the idea of it, you know. Maybe that’s all family really is. A group of people that miss the same imaginary place.”
Kinda hits you in the jugular; but still we get up and choose to participate. Time continues to march on and recreating the past is just not an option, because nostalgia is just too damn irrational. As we work to navigate these new spaces, the best way we know how and juggle the non-shapeable feeling or idea of home, we must remember that change is the only constant variable we must embrace in all forms.
You rock, don’t change.
Best, Dr. Dyce