I left Connecticut in January 2012. I even wrote a post about it. It felt like a big deal. And not simply because I was some introspective angsty teen trying to find meaning in the mundane. I was a huge change in my life, the largest since I had a similar experience going the other way ten years before.
That post doesn’t really illustrate my true feelings on that departure. I don’t even know if I knew then what I was feeling when I left. The me of 9+ years ago that wrote that doesn’t seem nearly as reflective as I am now, as if I was lying to myself, trying to mask the pain of leaving.
Don’t get me wrong. The journey away from Connecticut was as life changing as the move to Connecticut had been over ten years prior. Permanent decisions now etched in stone that can never be changed. Friendships gained now lost. Different paths never pursued.
What that post doesn’t say is what happened when I physically Connecticut. After a stop to see some friends on the way, I was driving down the Merritt Parkway towards my first stop on my trip back to Utah. I crossed over the border into New York and I began to cry. All the emotions of 10+ years ran down my face like a stream. I couldn’t really explain it then. What should have been a cathartic time full of burying some of the most painful times of my life and ever onward to new adventures, and I was terribly sad. But sad for what, I wasn’t sure.
It wasn’t the loss of a relationship. That had long been over by that point, and while it took up most of my time in Connecticut, I had partitioned that part of my life well. I wasn’t the one crying in my car before I moved to Virginia. I wasn’t the one who was worried we’d never talk to each other again. I was the one who was moving on and cutting most of that part of my life out. People from that part of my life are mostly gone from it now.
Was it a change of identity? I was no longer in the Army, and while I harbored some thoughts deep in the recesses of my mind that I could go back, I knew it was over. A lot of “my people” had moved on too or were getting ready to. That feeling faded after a few more years, and a few more twists in the timeline of life, and that part of my life was mostly gone too, a mental file of memories and names often jumbled together. In the era of social media, I’d keep in contact with the people that I wanted to, and we could all come together and share life moments and events and everything would be fine, even if we were thousands of miles away.
Some conversations paused indefinitely, only to be resumed later. Others stopped forever when it just didn’t seem worth it anymore. We all get busy with life and the flow of things and start to find it hard to start that conversation up. The ties that bind us get further and further into the past and you start to question whether or not they really were as significant as you remember them being, or simply anecdotes you’d likely never share with anyone again.
Everything stops being important at some point, right? Or you find other things that become way more important than anything else up to that point in your life and focus instead on those things right in front of you, the easiest thing.
Because it makes you happy. Because all those old things no longer do, at least not directly.
Sure, you get nostalgic for those days from time to time. Anniversaries come and go, ones with big round numbers, and you try and fine meaning and you try to determine if it still something that really matters or if it is simply something that is just another thread not pursued, something that just ended one phase and started nothing. Things always seem more profound in the moment, but that always fades. Always becomes less important.
And then loss. And strange feelings you can’t explain. The need to go back somewhere you left long ago, not necessarily forever but not really a place you tried to get back to in the past eight years. Eight years is a long time in the span of a life, almost as much time as you spent in that place before. You kept making excuses why you didn’t. No money. No time. No real reason to go. Flying across the country with an infant. A toddler. A child. Excuse after excuse after excuse.
But you never felt the pull. Never felt any reason to go back. Your other trips back were for “reasons” you tell yourself. One of those life moments and events, a way station along the way on something bigger. Both trips too soon after you left to have any huge meaning. Or at least that’s what you told yourself.
Maybe it was the flight, landing at that airport. The last time you drove into the state. The time before that you flew through New York. Not that airport. The one that started this thread in 1999, the first meeting, the first drive, the first night in what was supposed to be forever. Conversations never forgotten even 20+ years later.
The trees felt the same. Highway signs screamed roads I had driven dozens if not hundreds of times, an old life buried deep in the past and away from the new. It was a strange feeling; one I’m still struggling to explain. It wasn’t fear. That person that cried in your car had long removed themselves from your life, and you were fine with that. You moved on a long time ago, nearly a decade come and gone and your life was happy with a person you would have never know otherwise and you are even more grateful that those threads ended so you could meet her and be with her forever instead because she’s your person. She was always meant to be your person.
Yet still that feeling remains. Residual thoughts and feelings thought removed by simply driving away down the Merritt Parkway and onto the next thing come flooding back, and you understand. Or you think you do.
It’s not about a place. It’s not really about people. Memories are dots and dashes in the Morse code of the universe that we never really understand. They come and go, trying to make you understand them, but you never stop, and you never listen you simply think you do. We fool ourselves into thinking we understood when it’s the easiest outcome. We don’t like to dwell on the things that hurt us. That led to us finding different threads through our time. We memory hole the thing and move on.
I don’t know if I will never fully understand the visceral reaction I had when coming back. Yes, I am sad my friend is gone, and I’m sad that such a sad moment for so many people is what it takes to come back, to continue those long-interrupted conversations. Day-to-day life goes on, and it’s easy to see why it’s so easy to pause the conversations as life happens around us. We take the easy way out. Find the quickest thread.
It’s not time to come back. I don’t think the current threads that I’m on will lead me back to this exact place ever. But I’m glad I came back this time, even considering that circumstances for my trip. There was something in me that needed to come back at this exact time on this exact thread, to see those people and places from a life nearly forgotten. For the longest time, I fought the return to Utah, only making the move when I though I had no other choice. But part of me never really left here, and now those two parts are whole. A thread resumed, in keeping with the title of this thing.
I’m happy to be heading back to Kim and Lincoln and even the cats and the life that we’ve made in the place that I call home. And I’m excited to see where this new thread ends up.