Sunday, October 22, 2006

The Road That Was Taken

One day five years ago Granny came home from work and found a letter in her mailbox from her friend Robert Crawford. Now, Granny and Robert had been friends since they were in high school, for all of 48 years, which is a good long time. Way back then, Robert and Bob Dorn and Jack Hairston and Michael Wells and Jane Thornberg and Granny hung out together and called themselves the Elves, Gnomes, Leprechauns, and Little Men's Chowder & Marching Society. So, Granny is always excited to get a letter from him. But today, when Granny read his letter, he said that his son David had died. Granny felt so sad. Granny remembered when David was born, just two years before Uncle Richard was born. David was the first baby born to anyone in the Elves, Gnomes, Leprechauns, and Little Men's Chowder & Marching Society, and Granny had always felt like he was their baby.

Granny wrote an e-mail to Michael, who is now Maya's Gramps, to tell him about it and she wrote a letter to Robert telling him how sorry she was. Then Granny realized that she had to write to Jane as well, because Jane was David's mother. And Granny hadn't seen or heard from Jane since Jane and Robert got their divorce and that was 38 years ago, Granny remembers because it was right after Uncle Richard was born.

Well, Granny wrote a letter to Jane and she was very sad about David all over again. But then, Granny realized that she was sad about something else as well, and what that other thing was, she was sad that it had been so long since she had seen or talked to Jane. That Granny really missed Jane. And she missed her even more when the letter came back and Granny realized that she didn't know where Jane was.

And then Granny got to thinking about all the moving she had done in her life, and all of the friends that she had lost touch with, and it seemed to her that her past was like a landscape littered with lost friends. Little girls that she had known when she was a little girl, like Lupe and Maria, Jean and Rita Pine, Sandy Pettichord, Roberta and Bernadette, and Esther. Teenaged girls that she had known when she was a teenaged girl, like Ruth, Sarah, and Jenny, Jane, and Katy Savage. Young women that she had known when she was a young woman, like Gail Jennings, Nanette, Julie Anne, and Val, Kit Schneider, Rita, Nicola, and Leanne. Full grown women that she had known when she was a full grown woman, like Jean Van Whye and Gloria Desroucher and Alison Hudson and Carol Pevin and Zenia Tata. And Granny really missed them all. Granny thought about the friends she still has from her earlier days, and they are few. Like Linda Lapsley and Linda McKinney. And even they don't live in Juneau near Granny. Granny wished that she could have always lived in one town and always had the same friends and know where they all are and see them all the time.

(Since that day, five years ago, Julie has found Kate for Granny and Michael has found Jane for Granny, and now Granny sees them both when she goes to California and e-mails them and talks to them on the phone. She still doesn't know where her other friends are, and sometimes she still misses them. Sometimes she envies people who stay in one place and have the same friends always.)

And Granny realized that when you choose to wear your blue shirt, your closet is full of shirts you aren't wearing, and when you choose to eat sourdough bread and Limburger cheese the kitchen is full of food you aren't eating, and when you choose to move to a new place, the world is full of places and people you have left behind. And Granny realized that when you are born under a wandering star, sometimes you long for roots.


Ms. Mamma said...

Oh Granny, this is simply beautiful. You have described so well and so eloquently a similar feeling I have. Very nice.

Tabba said...

I was born under that wandering star. Not by choice. After my mom & dad divorced, my mom was constantly moving with the tides. I hated it.
Always new friends, new places, fresh starts. I always felt so alone. I've lost many good friends along the way & wonder where they are. I have yet to find the one I seek the most.
This post moved me, in the simple fact that, I could hear in your 'voice' the things I've been feeling for years. But in my simple-minded way, thought I was the only one who ever felt that way.
It was such a relief to hear someone else say the words that I have been longing to say.
But just never could.

Ginnie said...

The last few years it seems have been spent in retrospection...I guess it's a "getting older" thing but I sure wish I could re-connect with a lot of my old many of them are gone now. Thanks for the beautiful article and the reminder.

Anvilcloud said...

Oh yeah, 48 years is a long time to be in high school. (I admit it. I have a pounding headache.)

Marianne said...

Poignant. Beautiful. The most beautiful thing is that you have fond memories for all of those you left behind. That is a truly loving heart.

Cuppa said...

Roots are great, but wings can be pretty wonderful too.

In all of Bugs travels these days I sit back and put down my roots while I wonder how she can use her wings so freely.

Oh the joy of the road that was taken whether we put down roots or developed our wings. Each has its own beauty.

Joy Des Jardins said...

This is beautiful J. How true every word of it is...I've often thought the same thing...felt the same way; and I HAVEN'T moved all over the place. I'm basically in the same area I grew up in, and I've still lost touch with a lot of people from my past. What's my excuse? Life? It's so easy to get wrapped up in your daily living of life and those who are a part of it at the time, that you forget and let things and people drift away. I've just recently reconnected with some family that I haven't seen in many years...what a wonderful feeling it is.

Betty said...

I couldn't have said it better, Granny. I love your writing.