“You can’t go Home Again”

Vincent Van Gogh's "Bedroom at Arles"

Vincent Van Gogh’s “Bedroom at Arles”

They say “You can’t go home again”, and I think they are right (well, whomever this proverbial “they” might be).  However, I think you can reinvent what home can be defined as.

Whenever people are making small talk, the inevitable question arises, “Where are you from?” I always answer the same, “I am not really from anywhere.  My family moved all over when I was a kid and I lived in 53 places and attended 15 different schools before I was 15.  I lived in Arizona, Wyoming, New Mexico, Utah, and Nevada as a child.”  Granted, it was probably more information than they were looking for; it was, essentially, small talk.  Nevertheless, I would ignore the bored look on their faces and continue, “As an adult I have also lived in Washington, Texas, California, and Oregon, and then back to Texas.”

Having no idea why they would engage me further, most would ask me, “So, where do you consider ‘home’?”

Often I would pause before answering, “I guess that would be Reno, Nevada.  I lived there longer than I lived anywhere else, and it was the last place I went to school.”

Returning “home” is not as one would imagine where you visit the familiar and are welcomed by family and friends and visit your childhood home.

The Biggest Little City in the World is entirely different from when I was a teenager here; the days of me cruising up and down Virginia Street in my beloved ’57 Chevy are over, I am no longer a teen with a classic car, and they have outlawed cruising entirely.  Downtown looks old and depressing with locals dragging the sidewalks like zombies amongst the dilapidated and empty buildings; the economic downturn hit the area hard.

I have no friends from high school, having had few to begin with, and not keeping in touch with (or falling out with) the few I had.  My family is mostly here, but is so dysfunctional I might as well be here alone.

There is no childhood home, as we rented a duplex for the few years I lived here with my family.  Eventually, my parents bought a home they owned for 20 years or so, but we sold it to pay for my mother’s attorney when she killed my father.

Other than my evening of “emotional cutting”, I am reluctant to return to my regular haunts of years past; there are too many memories, good and bad.  I have a tendency to get mired down in the pain, but if it is not in front of me constantly, I can suppress it and pretend it never existed.

Time to Reinvent

I have reconnected with a friend I worked with during my second “homecoming” (this is my third).  We have reinvented a friendship that exists in the present; we are the only two involved and there is nobody from our past to stir up trouble and create a triangle wherein they create drama.

For the first time, I am living alone; granted, the apartment is not ideal.  It is smaller than most hotel rooms I have ever stayed in, and the neighborhood is less than upscale.  Very much less.  Nevertheless, I am alone and I can write to my heart’s content; the goal of this exercise.

My days are filled with working out, going to Starbuck’s for an internet connection, interviewing people to write about, and learning about life by myself.

So, while you cannot go home again, I have decided to reinvent what home is to me… it is wherever I happen to be at the time.  For now, it is here, at Starbuck’s on a lonely corner downtown.

Once Upon a Time… I had a Friend

Friendship

Whenever I talk to people about my past, I have a tendency to describe myself as having never had friends before.  I always say that “women and I just never seem to get along very well”.  Mostly, that is a true statement; as I verbalize this, the movie playing through my mind is high school and how I had a tendency to date boys who had girlfriends and how I developed a reputation for being “easy” as a result.

 

I was always different from most girls in that regard, when they would confront me and were incredulous at the fact that I was a cheater, I would become doubly incredulous at their stupidity that they had no idea at the definition.  The fact that I was unattached and could date whomever I wanted and that their significant other was the one who was being unseemly had clearly slipped past their tiny little high school minds.  As a result, I had no friends, and since most women appeared to buy into the same mindset, it did not look like I would find one anytime soon.

 

But, somehow, it always slips my mind, that for a few years I had a very good friend, even best friend if you will.  We were practically inseparable.  We were opposite in so many ways, but that was probably one of the attractions of the friendships and what allowed us to remain close for several years.

 

Even though she came from a broken home in the classic sense that her parents were divorced and she lived with her father and brother, she was so much more stable and together than I could have ever been.  She was confident, self-assured, and was easy to be around.  She was more of a friend to boys, but when she got a boyfriend, she was in a relationship for a very long period of time; unlike me who flitted from boy to boy and had relationships that overlapped, sometimes three at a time.

 

By the time high school ended, our lives were so different and we had gone so far beyond our separate ways that it was ten years before we saw each other again.  It was an exciting reunion as we made plans to see each other for the first time.  I was beyond exciting, as I really considered her to be the only friend I had ever really had in my life.  We spent the weekend meeting halfway between our two homes, we talked about our lives since we had seen each other, we reminisced about high school, and we talked about our future together now that we were back in each other’s lives.

 

We still could not have been more different, but it was an easy and seamless reunion, I could not have been happier.  I had no idea how much I had missed having a friend.  As an adult woman I did not realize how important a friendship like that was, so different from a mother or a sister, especially when you come from such a dysfunctional family with so many secrets.

 

We remained friends for a few months, when tragedy struck.

 

I went to her house for a visit, I was thrilled to have a weekend away from my husband and kids, I needed a break from life.  A year before I had been diagnosed with bi-polar manic depression, borderline personality disorder, and OCD.  I felt like my life was spinning out of control.  The weekend promised to be one of fun and freedom.

 

The first night I arrived, we went to a party at her friend’s house where there was alcohol, marijuana, and lots of people, everything I needed to make me feel like I was the life of the party.  The next morning I awoke to find my things packed and sitting by her front door, she was sitting in the living room drinking tea and invited me to leave.  I found out very curtly from her husband that I “got out of control” and embarrassed her and she never wanted to see me again.

 

That was it, that was the end of my friendship.  I have never seen or heard from her again.

 

So, when I say that I have never really had a friend before, I suppose it is just a mental block because of the damage that I did myself, or I did not deserve a friend.  Either way, the result is the same, I do not know how to be a friend anymore.