When I was 12, my world was turned upside down. My grandfather died, my father was devastated, and we moved from our suburban Chicago home, drove across country, and into a duplex just northeast of Boulder.
I know that the move was pivotal-things that already were dysfunctional did not get any more fun OR functional. The stars aligned with XYZ, and we all went spinning down that giant waterslide called fate. I oftened wondered what would have happened had things gone differently. What would have happened had we stayed in Treeton?
If you look on a map of the Chicagoland area, you won't find a Treeton (any more than you will find an East Cupcake Texas). But you know the place. It's that place stuck in 1972, where there is a country club, an enormous public pool (possibly the town's best feature) and the junior high principal measures to see if your skirt is long enough. As I look back, I think about how some of my friends' parents had thick European accents, and wonder if they arrived before the war. My dad used to say, in a snotty-sarcastic voice "How lucky we are to live in Treeton." Sometimes he said it to be sarcastic, other days, he said it because he wanted to believe it.
I got sucked into the vortex called Facebook recently, and found one of my best friends from grade school. I was excited. We got on the phone and yakked away, discussing 30+ years of water under the bridge, over the road, and in the gutter.
She told me about exotic trips, misfortunes of youth, and the love of her life. I asked her about her older sister (who currently lives just northeast of Boulder). "She is happy." "What does she do?" "She doesn't make any money." "????"
A few weeks later, she dropped me a line "We're kind of busy, because my parents are coming in tomorrow." "Hey, send my warm regards to your mother." And she said "I'll let her know that we're in touch. I seem to recall that my folks thought you were a little wild, but they let us play together a lot and we had over nights."
What? She hadn't seen me since Nixon was President, and I was in grade school. She didn't just write that in an email, she left that on my wall, like ugly bathroom graffitti for everyone to read. I couldn't decided whether to be hurt or mad. I thought about her telling me about how judgemental her dad was, and thinking, "The apple didn't fall to far from THAT tree." I thought about how I didn't know whether she lived or not until the end of January, so why should I give a shit about what came out of her mouth? I thought about how sometimes, I am an asshole without meaning to be.
Mostly, tho, I hear my dad's mocking voice in the back of my mind and now I understand what he meant.