From Portland to Mass, New York to Pennsylvania with a quickie to Maryland, we did it all this past holiday season. It started with a conversation about friends and time. “Do you think we have made our friends for life?” I asked, while wiping onion induced tears away. “I think we’ve made our solid friends.” “Right.” “But, I think we will always make friends wherever we are, don’t you?” I nodded, though I really didn’t have an answer.
Do I think I’ll ever meet another Abby Kreider, who’s shared more adventures with me than Gumby and his damn horse, Pokey? No way. Another Debbi? Mattson? Kevin? Illya? Another Marcus-Marcus who has seen Fil and I at our best, worst, and mediocre?! Never. Yes, we will make friends everywhere we go, but once you’ve made your irreplaceables, your partners in crime, your jail bailers, your best enemies (for they know every dirty detail), these my readers, are hard to make again.
So, we planned a trip. A big trip. A several hundred mile trip. Hours. It was a long ass trip. Our first stop was Massachusetts, where we surprised Mattson and Raji the night they returned home for Christmas. We sat up until 5 a.m.(?) catching up, analyzing our current predicaments, laughing, and feeling a little sad when talking of those couple months in our lives when we were all connected at the hip. Those weren’t the best months. We all went through our own private hells during that period, but who better to go through hell with than your soul mates?
The next morning we said our goodbyes and South we drove to New York with a car full of gifts, wine, and our traveling cat.
It was Christmas Eve around 4:00 p.m. as we watched her enter the building from our rental car. It was the perfect set up. An unrecognizable automobile, a Santa hat, and jingle antlers. She had no idea. We waited in the fire escape as Fil made a call to his momma, who had just returned from errands. “Get on Skype,” he told her, “We’ll talk on Skype.” We quickly made our way to the door with a DRING-DRING of the bell. It was all hugs, kisses, and tears when she opened the door to find two of Santa’s forgotten helpers and their charming Christmas cat, Bagheera. The evening was spent with so much laughter that I remember my cheeks feeling warm and tingly as I drifted to sleep on Christmas Eve.
Christmas day we were back on the road, headed to Pennsylvania, where for two days we didn’t move from the couch. When we finally had the strength to get back in the car, Fil and I made a trip to Hagerstown to have lunch with my grandfather and his wife, Millie. We spent the afternoon catching up and talking of Portland. That night we watched movies with dad and Mary at the cabin. The fire was rolling, my belly was full of O.I.P pizza, and I couldn’t believe how incredible this Christmas was. We saw everyone on our Christmas list, which started with our mommas. There is nothing like waking up in your childhood bed, going to the kitchen, and finding your momma with a coffee and a sunshine smile on her face before you’ve even had the chance to pee. That, friends, is irreplaceable.
But all of the many warm, fuzzy Christmas moments still couldn’t keep my over-analytical, there-must-be-a-catch writer’s mind from screwing it all up for me.
One night while playing WWF Raw: Captain Hook (Fil) vs. Paige and Aunt O, there was a moment when all I wanted was to be back home in Portland. A moment when I wished we didn’t even make the trip.
Those close to me know I don’t handle leaving home well. I actually end up dreading visiting, knowing that I’ll eventually have to say goodbye again. I start thinking about it before I’ve even arrived. This visit was no different. I was so happy to see our parents, our friends, our homes, but coming home sometimes feels like coming back to reality. As if the life you’re building somewhere else, away from your start, doesn’t really count as life. It feels like all this time we’ve been playing house when out there in reality my three-year-old niece is learning to go on the potty and, in her words, “It’s just awful.” I’m reminded that while we are away in the never-never land of Portland, my grandparents are still getting older, our pets don’t really consider themselves “ours” anymore, our parents still have to go to work, our best friend will fly back to LA, my sister is still fighting cancer, and Christmas only comes once a year, damn it!
All of this seemed to hit full force on New Year’s Eve over Olivier salad and Halladetzs. After a nip of vodka and some twinkling candles, I burst into tears, running to the bedroom where Fil found me, “What’s wrong?” “I don’t know. I just feel sad. I’m SAD. Why did we come home?”
He dried my eyes and we spoke to the parents about life, worries, feeling lonely, and, as they often do, they reassured us that everything will be all right and life is good. Funny how all it takes to calm a twenty-something is a sip of wine and an understanding nod from your parents.
After spending New Year’s Eve watching movies, calling friends, and burning our regrets, tossing them out over the balcony, I could answer my own question. Why did we make the trip? Because Fil and I decided the night I asked if him we made our friends for life, that we would never, ever let “we’ll see them next time,” become our excuse. We never want it to become easier not to go home even when it is. Even when it’s going to take money out of the bank or time out of our lives. We never want to lose touch-when I say touch I mean hugs and kisses not texts and tweets. I want to hold the people closest to me when I can, I want to hug my best friends, kiss my grandparents, and squeeze my fat English bulldog. We will never choose “next time,” over sharing just a moment with our irreplaceables.
Happy New Year, readers!
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