It could have been the rainy weather or my hormones. Am I having a quarter-life crisis? Maybe. The photos on Facebook of kids going back to school have me feeling pretty nostalgic, so those could be to blame. But whatever the reason, I cried on I-71 North yesterday. “Old Friends” by Ben Rector came on when I was just north of Redbank Road and in a perfectly timed series of events, the chorus hit while I was stopped (#rushhour) next to the exit I would have taken to go to my childhood home and boom, tears.
Old friends are the strangest group of people, aren’t they? I barely know them now, what they do, where they live. If I don’t follow them on social media, I might not even recognize them in public. They don’t know my married name, but they know the kid that I used to be. And that might mean know me better than all of my ‘new’ friends– the friends who know me as Kathryn Tilmes, who know what I do, and where I live.
Because you can’t really know someone like you know a friend you’ve seen get yelled at by their parents. You can’t really know someone like you know a friend who’s house is intertwined in your memories with your own. A friend who’s clothes you borrowed; a friend who lived down the road in a place where you showed up unannounced at the backdoor; someone who ate dinner at a table that you helped set before you both sat down to eat with their family (after you got permission from your mom, of course). That’s a different level of friendship. That’s sacred.
And then, because middle school is hard and high school is weird, you grew apart or got in a fight about something that you can’t even remember. Or, the most haunting, you didn’t get in a fight at all. The friendship never really ended, but at some point you fell out of touch until you had your last conversation one day without even knowing it.
So, yeah, I cried. I cried over those memories and friendships and a childhood I’ll never get back. But I also cried because I’m hopeful that one day I’ll have a kid who rides a bike down our street with a friend who’s parents feel like they’re part of our family, too. Maybe someday I’ll be stuck in (#rushhour) traffic on I-71 North while my kid and a friend set our table. And then when I get back home, we’ll all eat dinner together… our family and the friend who feels like an extension of us because she happens to live next door. Thinking of the past + hoping for the future made me realize that it’s all sacred. The little moments make us who we are.
I’m thankful for: Ben Rector making music that makes me feel something. Rita Lane, the orange bus, Madeira High School, and the friendships made in those places. Old friends and our little moments that made me who I am. New friends and how seamlessly they feel part of my life now. (and especially) The friendships that started years ago and have stood the test of time.
Spend more time with your neighbors.