Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Bringing Allan Home

My journey to Cleveland was haphazard, but reaching Cleveland was in some ways, like reaching home.

No, that's not really an accurate thing to say. It's an overly simplistic metaphor for something very complex I want to express. It wasn't at all like home. Jinx lives in a duplex with her mother - I've never really spent time in her house before.

But ever since I've returned from the Peace Corps I've had this recurring feeling that I'm doing more than seeing the places and people I used to know again - I've felt as if I literally haven't been Allan for some time now. And now that I'm home, I keep feeling these fierce urges to pour through old letters and belongings, through anything that had meaning to Allan. In fact, I've completely taken apart my room searching for old writings, letters, gifts, anything to remind me of things I've left in my past. I never meant to forget.

And I've forgotten a lot. But the memories come back. And one thing that I discovered that weekend (and here's the piece where what I'm ranting about connects back to the beginning) is that there are, beyond question (to my mind anyway), certain people who are just so essential to who I am that that without them, I am not the same person. I guess that's something lots of people know instinctually. We know some of our friends can be bad for us, and some of our friends are good for us. Especially in romantic relationships we're all familiar with situations where you have to tell a friend "Leave her, she's no good for you!" But... I felt as if this were a radical change. By the time Jinx, Maria, and I dispersed that weekend, I left with a piece of myself I didn't have when I'd arrived. And more than that, I felt refreshed.

I know that sounds odd, and more than a little melodramatic to write. But in fact, I don't think my words fully convey the full weight of truth and conviction I mean them with. The Allan who existed in Cleveland that weekend didn't all arrive on the same greyhound. That's puzzling, but I'm glad to have him back.

It probably helps that we all feed each other's memories when we gather. We've known each other for too long, we see each other too seldom, and the memories we do share have been so intense. So they were more than happy to share in my memory digging fervor; in fact we spent the last night listening to old tapes we had.

You see, when we were young and stupid, we bought a bunch of hand-held tape recorders. We thought they were so cool. And every time the three of us (there were 5 of us then) would get together, we would just tape record EVERYTHING with the idea that many years later we would be such bloody sentimentalists that when we got together we'd have nothing better to do than to sit around listening to what we were doing and saying when we got together a decade ago. And we were right on the mark!

I'd spend more time talking about what we did for Jinx's birthday weekend, but the truth is, it was who I was with that counted far more than what we did. For the record, we visited tea houses (I got to try clotted cream, which I did not particularly care for), watched bad movies, ate cake, And surfed the waves of lake eerie. On Jinx's birthday the four of us took a bottle of wine to an empty field to watch the Perseids fall (ghetto, I know, but we make do ;-). Sadly, I don't think anyone got a direct look at a star (though I'm certain I saw a nice one out of the corner of my eye. Jinx thinks it was just a giant firefly skimming across the atmosphere at subsonic speeds). On another evening we tried to make it to a bar and... failed utterly. But it reminded me of our endless walk at Ocean City, and I smiled.

It was a... really great visit. I guess I have to leave it at that. Seeing Maria and Jinx again felt like coming home to myself and ALSO seeing two great friends. And getting to know Sarah (who I realize I haven't mentioned yet) was also really cool. I felt like I knew her much better than I had any right to. If you want to see pictures of said trip, you'd best blame her

I think this rambling drivel has been allowed to go on long enough. Honestly, why do you people read this stuff?

PS: Please. Please. Don't quote drew carey when responding to this post. I'm pretty sure I already know what ditty you're humming to yourself.

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