When I moved to Georgia seven years ago (has it really been that long?), I came home to visit much more often than I do now. For several months, I just did the family thing, neglecting friends I had left. After watching this for several visits, Mom sat me down for a little talk. She let me know that one of her biggest regrets was not seeing friends when she went back to Cincinnti to visit. She told me she understood that it was difficult to fit everything in, but down the road I would be happy to still have these friendships.
Now, I haven’t always listened to Mom’s advice. In fact, at that point in my life, I rarely did. But that bit of sage wisdom? It has stuck with me over the past seven years, and I have a core group of friends I see every visit. We don’t always get to spend a lot of time together, but we get a few minutes to catch up in person and share a few hugs. And these friends understand when I have to leave after an hour or can’t come back until the next visit. It also doesn’t seem like any time has passed between visits, either. Over the past few years, I’ve added a few more friends in the mix. Sure, it makes coming home a litte more hectic, but these are people I shared so much with in the past.
Take Lindsay, for instance. She and I went to school together until second grade and didn’t meet back up until our junior year in college. She moved into my old apartment when I moved across the hall and spent nights walking to Kroger for delicious chocolate chip cookies and watching The Bachelor. I had just left her house the night Justin called me to set up our first date. Every time I come home, we go to Pazzo’s to order pretzels and cider. Sure, we’re probably too old to really go there. But we do; it’s tradition.
Then there’s Jill, my R.A. from my freshman year. We lost touch after college until we ran into each other at the mall in 2003 after both having car wrecks. Then we wound up with the same doctor and physical therapists. We’d been so close in college that it seemed like time had never passed. We got married a week apart and have children close in age, although her oldest is much older than Robbie. We get the boys together to play and try to catch up while urging the children to “Pleas share.”
And where would I be without Jamie? The friend I didn’t get to see one trip until she called while I was on the way to the airport. Mom sped to Kroger in Beaumont Center, where Jamie was finishing a mural, just so we could get in a quick hug and Jamie could marvel at my massive belly. It’s a special kind of friendship that can sustain itself on a two-minute hug.
And Hilary. My favorite Hilary. Home wouldn’t be home without her – my sister and my best friend. We go to dinner, play with Robbie, watch TV shows that drive Mom crazy, remember stories from when we were little. When I was youger, Mom promised that one day we would be best friends. I was sure she was wrong. But, Hilary is my blood sister, my sorority sister, and my best friend.
And then there are the friends I’ve reconnected with recently: Louisa, Adele, Lisa, and Jonathan. They are there for dinners and birthday parties and the occassional trip to Kings Island in the middle of the summer. They are excited to hear I’m coming to town and can’t wait to see me (and I can’t wait to see them!).
Of course, some of my friends have dropped off… And that’s bound to happen as life and circumstances change. It’s hard, though, to realize that life at home happens without you. People don’t just sit on the couch, waiting for you to return. And sometimes friends outgrow each other.
I like knowing that a part of my life is still in Lexington. I love that Robbie has friends he visits here, too. It’s nice to have a little part of my past to show to Robbie. So, Mom? The best advice I ever received? It came from you.