Believe it or not, my friends are not there for me just to pick their brains and drink down their stories. I KNOW. It seems like that would be true; but no. However, I am fascinated by my friends. I want to know everything about them; what they thought about at night while falling asleep as children, what their first words were, their best and worst family vacations… I like to know the bones of their architecture. The foundation upon which the houses of their lives were laid.
And being that my parents were divorced, and that I moved around a lot, two things absolutely, totally, completely fascinate me — friends whose parents are still married, and friends who still have deep ties to the place they’re from (bonus points if they lived there their entire lives. Su. I’m looking at you, next.) I mean, that’s just so completely different than what I have. Yeah, sure, I have a place where I’m from… but I don’t have growing-up stories of it. We moved when I was four. My stories consist of learning the dangers of stairs and what happens when you eat half a bottle of baby aspirin. I went to so many schools I have to write all that shit out to be able to count them. I don’t remember the names of anyone I went to school with until about high school, and from that point if I do remember your name it’s probably because you were a dick.
So one day years and years ago when Sharon mentioned in passing that her parents still live in the house where Sharon grew up, it was like one of those moments only you other old timers will get — it was as if someone dragged the needle across the album of our day. WHAT? YOUR PARENTS STILL OWN THE SAME HOUSE? THEY STILL LIVE THERE? YOU HAVE A CHILDHOOD ROOOOOOOOOM? I think I may have actually lifted up one hand and sniffed at her like a Pointer. I mean, I knew that she goes back for a family visit once a year and also gets together with people she’s not only known but been friends with since grade school. But the bit about living in the same house, for some reason, just… tipped me over the edge. Maybe because I’ve lived in the same town for more than 30 years but have also lived in about 15 different places in that town.
Now, a lot of this might be about to sound as if I was considering Sharon not really a person, with feelings; it may sound as if I’m examining her like a science experiment. But if you know me well enough you’ll know that’s not it, it’s just that… I love stories. LOVE THEM. I love learning about people; what makes them, what forms them, what their hopes and fears spring from… I could go on. And while the number of friends I have whose parents are still married or were married until one of them passed is a low number… I don’t think I even have any other friends, that I’m aware of, who have lived in the same house since they were born. BOGGLES, the mind does. I’ve lived in places that I don’t even have pictures of, let alone memories of how that house changed through the years with bathroom renovations, rooms redone, and so on. And how the city changed over time! I mean, I’m pretty much ancient by Gainesville standards, having lived here since 1979. But to be born in a town and have watched it change your whole life? And one or both of your parents being born and raised in the same area? The sheer weight of the history of that is almost too heavy to let me draw a breath.
ANYWAY. I’m getting rambly. My point is that when Sharon told me that, I wanted to but never really thought I would be able to see her home town, get the Sharon tour, see the church and the schools and the Hardees and meet the friends and see the house and…. and that’s what I did this last weekend. And it was everything, more than, I thought it would be.
Photos coming soon…..!