I should mention in advance that the following post really has nothing to do with being an English major, a teacher, or a graduate student. Instead, it has to do with nostalgia. And family.
About a week ago I posted some photos from my recent trip to Seattle on Facebook. As I looked at those pictures, I couldn’t help but to recall the highlights of the trip, how much fun I had, and how much I learned about myself and the co-workers/friends I was with. The memories also made me realize how different the same place can seem depending on who you’re sharing the experience with.
Last July, nearly a year ago now, I spent a day in Seattle with my cousin as part of an eleven day exploration of the Pacific Northwest. We traveled through various parts of Oregon and Washington, spending time in nature, taking in the magnificent scenery, eating delicious food, drinking expensive cocktails, and consuming a lot of coffee. (Portland coffee shops, if you’re reading this, I miss you.) I’ve always felt closer to this particular cousin than other members of the family, but we had never spent this much time together. We definitely faced some challenges, but overall it was a very pleasant and rewarding experience that I thought served as a profound bonding moment between us.
Apparently I was wrong. I’ve only seen her twice since we returned from our life-changing trip. Once was about two weeks or so after we returned, randomly, in the produce aisle of a Kroger’s. The second was at my grandparents’ anniversary party in October, to which she came late and from which she left early. That’s it. Save for a few rogue Facebook messages here and there, I’ve barely talked to her in a year. And it doesn’t even really have anything to do with me. The whole family’s apparently been cut off. She didn’t come to Christmas or Easter. She didn’t come to my graduation party, even though she had finally responded to someone and said she would show up. She doesn’t take calls or answer texts from anyone. She’s just, like, gone. Poof.
I don’t know what happened. I don’t know what the family did to her or what she did to them. I don’t know what she’s afraid of, what’s keeping her from coming back. And, quite frankly, I don’t care. What I do know is that I feel used. I’m pissed off that she could use me to get the trip to Oregon she’d been wanting to take for years, staying for two weeks with MY friend she’d never even met before, and then never speak to me again. I know that I’m hurt that she didn’t come to my graduation party when she said she was going to, but even more hurt that she never said a word to me about finishing my M.A. when she’d always been so supportive of me before. (Just for the record, she and I are the only grandchildren with Bachelor’s degrees, making me the first of our generation to have a graduate degree.) Most of all, I know that I really, really miss her and her friendship.
She’ll never read this. I know that. She’ll never see the words I’ve wanted to say to her but have never had the balls to send her. And that’s okay. The words have still been put together, concretized through digital ink, captured on the screen forever. For now, that’s enough. Maybe someday I will finally get the chance to sit down with her again and tell her everything I’ve thought and everything she’s missed. Until then, though, I will rely on nostalgia for company, looking at photos and dreaming of ocean air, pine trees, and mountainsides.