I traded unencumbered stars for city lights, cornfields for corner coffee shops, and never looked back, but there’s something to be said about going home again. I spent this past weekend at my childhood home, which lies on a storybook farm site seven miles outside a town straight out of Beautiful Girls where the men drive pick-up trucks with misogynistic bumper stickers and the women start having babies right after high school (if not during).
The reason for my visit (one of three this month—oy vey!) was the marriage of a high school friend, which meant celebrating with individuals I’ve known since before we realized that side pony tails and stirrup pants were regrettable fashion choices. These events always involve this strange limbo. Like stepping into the scenery of a play you were once a part of, but only some of the players remain while others have been replaced by another generation. You have no choice but to relive scenes that took place at each location you revisit. My reflections quickly turned to reminiscing about where I thought I would be at this point in my life when I was 16.
The friend who got married was one of my closest girlfriends in high school. There were three of us who hung out constantly (the other was there as a bridesmaid). These were the girls I confided in when my heart was breaking and ones who would break my heart at one time or another (and I theirs). Though we spent many sleepovers of our formative years planning our weddings in which the groom changed depending on who we were dating (if we weren’t dating anyone, he would take the shape of a Backstreet Boy or in my case Jonathan Brandis), but the constants were the girls standing by our side in tasteful bridesmaid dresses.
A particularly sordid fallout late in our sophomore year of college nearly robbed us of witnessing each other’s nuptials altogether. In fact, if I had gotten married when I had intended, she wouldn’t have attended mine. I remember feeling a slight twinge of regret as I addressed invitations to everyone who had been an important part of my life, except for her. It was actually shortly after my engagement withered altogether that I realized just how much I missed her. It was the first (and hopefully only) painful break-up I would ever endure without her. This realization and years of water flowing under the proverbial bridge spurred a renewal of our friendship.
After years of lending a shoulder as lesser men broke her heart (and regretfully missing some of those heartbreaks), being able to watch her move onto the next stage of her life with a man whose quiet strength will undoubtedly carry her though life’s trials was a purely wonderful experience. I will always be grateful that life brought us back together in time for this moment and hope it continues to bring us closer as she gracefully moves through each stage from this point forward.