What do you do when you're awake in the middle of the night, unable to sleep? Me, I watch a movie or read a book. Tonight's selection was Beautiful Girls (1996) with Timothy Hutton, Matt Dillon, Uma Thurman, and a bunch of other favorites. I'd never seen it before, believe it or not, but it got me thinking about friendship.
Being a military brat and moving as much as we did in my early childhood, I didn't have that small town, one circle of friends from birth-to-death kind of experience. I did, however, identify with the lead character in the movie just a bit. Yes, he's a guy and the movie is from the male perspective...but I, like him, left home and left my old life behind me. For very different reasons, I often find myself reluctant to return home.
Let's get back to the friends thought. I've had several circles of friends in my life. The first was a small circle in the age 2-5 time frame. Fond memories from a foreign country where only one of my friends spoke English (another US transplant in Asia.) Then there was the second circle from age 5-8. A neighborhood clan of all ages that got along well and were all-inclusive in our play. Age 9-14 was a tough one. All of those friends moved away at various times or I lost touch with them when I changed schools after 8th grade. I'm actually sad that I lost touch with a lot of those friends. In high school I only made one really close friend. There were a few other near friends on the periphery and one very good friend who moved but we managed to keep in touch, but my BEST friend and I were inseparable. Even when I left for college, she was always around. I made a couple new friends away at school, but when I dropped out to work full time, we lost that daily interaction and a lot of the closeness. My BEST friend was still there. For a while.
Then I got serious in a relationship with a guy. We got engaged after many years of dating and my BEST friend was terrified by the idea of me getting married and moving away. Then, she died. Very suddenly and without warning.
I go home and there is one college friend I look forward to seeing, if we can find the time, but going home is really hard. My life just isn't there anymore. I changed. And like the character in the movie, we just don't fit in back in that old life. That isn't home anymore.
The movie has a sort of happy ending with the Timothy Hutton character realizing home ISN'T his home anymore. He has a new life and his girlfriend really is the one. It took seeing his old life up close with her suddenly in it and how he no longer fits to see he is a better person with her and living far away from that stagnant little home town. Satisfying, right? So why did I bawl my eyes out?
Because I do have the one who makes my life a home and a family, but I don't have that weird circle of friends to visit and remind me of what I'm not missing. Does that make any sense? I wish I had a circle of friends who were happy to see me, ready to embrace me back into that old home town life, tell me they missed me, and make me happy I've moved on. Ha. I wish I'd kept in touch with the circle of friends I had in middle school. Those are the connections I most regret letting go of. It was a traumatic and damaging time for me and I was desperate to start over with my new school. But those friends...they were off-beat, smart, loyal, damaged, fragile, and targets - just like I was - and they accepted me unconditionally.
I miss you guys. Valerie B. Karen R. Karen Y. Joan who couldn't decide if she wanted to keep her Dad's last name or change it to her Mom's after the divorce...I miss you guys.