They Say You Can’t Go Home Again (But You Can Have a Very Nice Dinner There)
I am writing this at the end of my vacation. That time of year where you pack everyone up and head out for a few days of relaxation, fun and ‘together’ time. And boy did we have fun! Not too sure about the relaxation part, we stayed on the go constantly. Now we are home though and worn out! And isn’t unpacking just the worse? Or is it just me?? But I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
When I was a child my parents really didn’t do vacations. They tried once when I was around 4; a trip to the mountains. But I tried to drive their car off the side of that mountain and for some reason they were never again inclined to take me too far from home. That was one thing I sorta regretted about growing up, so when I had kids, I vowed to take them somewhere every year.
Now, as a single parent, my finances were limited, so our vacations might not have amounted to much by the standards of others. But we always took a trip each summer. I loved every one. As they grew older I was dreading the day when they were adults and out of the house and family vacations would no longer take place. In fact, about a month before I moved to where I currently reside, we took what I thought would be our last family vacation since my oldest was not moving with me. I tried to remember everything. And while it was a great trip, I discovered an even greater truth……I didn’t have to stop having vacations with my children. Turns out, they like hanging out with Mom… even as adults…. when they don’t have to!
So last week marked approximately 25 years worth of family vacations. And they get better each year. I’ve added a grandson and a son-in-law. And next year, there will be two grandsons! I am realistic enough to understand it will be difficult to always maintain this tradition, but I’m going to keep trying. In the meantime, I continue to treasure each one.
Now I am already 300+ words into my entry, and honestly, family vacations was not the topic. I am just waxing a little emotional, so I threw that part in for free.
No, what I really wanted to share with you was my dinner date on my first night in town. You see it turns out one of my old flames lives near the little seaside town we picked to vacation. And by old I mean, this goes back to high school.
I met John (no, not his real name) when we were teenagers. He was dating one of my good friends. I didn’t spend too much time around him, but I did always have a bit of a secret crush on him. He never knew, they broke up, life happens, everyone went their separate ways. Fast forward about 15 years. I was on a dating site (big surprise, right?) and guess who was also single and on a dating site? John! He was recently divorced and living right down the road. We connected and hit it off. It was a little surreal to know someone as a teenager and then the next time you see them, you are both divorced with young kids. There was a lot of catching up to do. For a while we got along great. John was the first guy to introduce me to Harley’s and took me on my first motorcycle ride. I was trying to be cute and wore shorts. Almost immediately I seared my calf on the hot pipes. I was too proud to admit it, so I rode around all afternoon with my leg burned. (I still have that scar.) He was always a great date and we had some fun adventures. We even had blended family time with our kids. It was fun. Unfortunately he was not as ready as I was for a new relationship. His divorce was fresh and still raw. I will admit it hurt when we broke up. There are just some relationships that burrow deeper into your heart than others. But we moved on and took different paths; both eventually leaving that small town and starting new lives many miles apart.
Fast forward another 15 years! John and I have been friends on Facebook for quite a while. Not the daily contact kind of friends, just the ‘I see what you are up to now and then’ kind. So I knew he lived very near the town we had picked for vacation this year. (Ok, for the skeptics, it was a coincidence.) On a whim (a very scary whim) I sent him a message. I told him we were coming into town and asked if he would like to meet for dinner. To my surprise, delight and trepidation, he said yes! He told me to just let him know when and where I was. (Yikes!)
So let me just set the scene for you. It is Friday afternoon. Blazing hot and humid. I make it to town around 3:30. He called to tell me he was off work and to check on my progress. When he learned I was so close, he offered to help me unpack the car. Now I have not seen this guy in 15 years! I get one date with him, so my plan was to check in, shower, and be ready when he got there. I was NOT prepared for him to see me in traveling clothes, sweat pouring down my face with frizzy hair! But what to say? Of course, I told him to come on. I noticed storm clouds in the distance though, so I did manage to get everything in the house. Within 10 minutes of him getting there (looking great, by the way), a terrific thunderstorm rumbles through. We are on the back porch watching the storm and going through clumsy re-introductions, when suddenly we lose power! So here we sit, awkward strangers/exs/friends, in the dark, in the heat. He had plans to take me to dinner at a place on the island, but the entire area is without power. So we decide to wing it, and quickly, as we were both melting. I did change out of my traveling clothes, but glamorous was not on the agenda.
All in all though, it was a great night. I had forgotten what a classy date he was. We went to a waterfront restaurant to have a drink and discuss dinner options. We ended up at a great little Italian restaurant and the food was amazing. We topped it all off with a walk to the beach. It was almost the perfect date in a little coastal town.
Now I know my romantic-at-heart friends are all holding their breaths waiting for the ‘now what’? But there isn’t a now what. And I knew that going in. That is not what it was about, and I’m ok with that. This was just simply reconnecting with a childhood friend (and yes, former boyfriend) and reminiscing 30 years worth of memories. We laughed and caught up. Told ‘remember when’ stories and ‘how proud of our kids we are’ stories. There were a few uncomfortable silences. Words maybe floating around in the air above us that neither wanted to say. I guess that is to be expected on these occasions. But at the end of the night, I could not have asked for better.
At our rate of communication I guess we will meet again at a retirement dinner. But I suppose that is not necessarily a bad thing. To have someone you have known your entire life, where you can pick up and spend a few hours together. Like you’ve never been apart. It was nice. Very nice.
Thank you John! You felt like home. Maybe only for a few hours, but still like home.