I had to take a trip last week to the city where I once lived with my family for more than seven years.
I worked two jobs, made some wonderful friends, and had some great neighbors there.
I gave birth to my children there.
I left that city not even three years ago. Not that long ago, really.
Yet, as I drove those streets, those same streets I once drove every day ... I couldn't feel a connection.
I sat in the same lecture hall where I studied all those weeks for the bar exam. Was that really me? Did I really do that? When was all of that, anyway? I can hardly remember.
I walked through a shopping center where my son's former favorite restaurant is located. We went there weekly, my family and I. My son would watch the servers walk by with the pizza pans and crane his neck to see if someone was carrying his favorite, the kind drizzled with cinnamon and icing. I can picture my daughter in the restaurant high chair, with the little purple bib around her neck, munching on cheese sticks and staring in wonder at all of the people.
I can see the images of my children in that restaurant. But where are the other memories? Have I lost them just like I have lost so many other things in the past few years:
the dream of "normalcy" for my son,
the dream of a relatively easy childhood for my kids,
the dream of a partnership I believed to be unbreakable.
I returned, briefly, to the old neighborhood. I looked at the houses lining the road to my old home. I looked at the cul de sac where my son learned to run. I looked at the old house, with the big window in the room where my boy once slept, and the fence around the yard where our beloved Socrates is buried.
Why does it feel so much like something I saw in a movie or read about in a book?
Where is the connection?
Nothing about my life this past year has been anything I ever could have imagined. Nor would I have wanted to. It has been pretty damn terrible. And, yet, there has been some real happiness among the fears and worries.
I doubt I will ever look back on the past year and not be able to remember .... the depth of the lows .... and the depth of my love for the people who were here for me.
My life has been turned upside down. And, now, weirdly enough, it is being moved to its side. I am not at all sure what life has in store for me in the near future. I quite literally am living in the moment, not thinking much beyond today and the next few days.
It is not a particularly fun way to live, but it is something I have grown accustomed to.
There was a moment yesterday, at a birthday party for one of my daughter's classmates, when I was surrounded by three beautiful women, all of whom I consider friends. We never have much time to chat. Unless we are COMPLETELY away from our children, which rarely happens, we have to steal the moments to talk about our lives. They know that the past year has been hell for me. They listen with their hearts. They wonder about my children and how they are handling things. They make me feel as if, no matter what answers I come to with respect to the big questions in my life, they will not judge.
They provide me with a wonderful sense of .... connection. The best kind of connection -- not associated with any town, or neighborhood, or even a house, but with true, genuine feelings of friendship -- the kind of connections that truly are unforgettable.