I came back to Richmond for Thanksgiving, yearning for something familiar, aching to be able to relax, and, quite literally, exhale.
First, let me say that I love my mom, and I am very grateful she could host me this week, saving me the cost of a hotel. About six weeks after I left Richmond for Atlanta in August, mom left the apartment we shared and moved into a Senior Living Unit. It’s a very cozy apartment, perfect for one person.
What that meant was that, even though mom fixed the full Thanksgiving meal (and it was FANTASTIC), her current abode didn’t lend itself to me feeling completely comfortable. It is like a hotel that I am using, with the great added bonus of having mom nearby to talk to. Still, the setting meant that I couldn’t quite relax.
I realized after being here for a couple of days that I don’t miss Richmond very much at all. The city itself holds very little for me now.
It’s the friends and family I miss.
I (intentionally) kept a very low profile upon my return. Tuesday, driving around running errands, mom and I passed Anthem.
“Wanna go say hi [to your former co-workers]?” mom asked.
Truthfully, I would’ve given my right arm and all the cash in my wallet to see Beth right at that very moment. But I couldn’t even think about seeing Frank, Tony or the other wonderful people I used to see everyday. For a millisecond, my heart leapt at the prospect of popping in on Beth unannounced, but as soon as that feeling briefly swept over me, I answered quickly and directly.
“Oh, god no! I couldn’t possibly go in there. That would be…too much.”
Again, not that I didn’t want to see Beth or Frank (and yeah, everybody else). It’s just that I knew I wouldn’t be able to answer the one question I was certain to hear:
“So, how are you doing?”
That question has had a very complicated answer for the past four months.
I saw Beth, as planned, on Friday. How long had I been waiting to see her? The night before I left Richmond, (August 13), I set a Countdown clock on my iPad for November 23, so quite literally the minutes ticked away. I went about my daily life, but I kid you not when I say a small part of me was always waiting. I would go days without checking the minutes remaining, because that hard number made it seem so distant, like it would never arrive.
I was never like that about Christmas as a kid. This whole thing was new for me. I hope she believes me when I say I miss her “more than I should be allowed to, and more than anyone who is not a relative should…”
Beth and her husband Seth arrived shortly after 1, and we decided to go to Five Guys for lunch, since I hadn’t had a Five Guys burger since I moved. Like a chemical reaction, as soon as I sat in the passenger seat of their SUV and clicked the seatbelt — a seat I had taken countless times over the years when Beth and I would go out to lunch in the middle of our workday — even though Seth was driving this time, I immeadiatly felt I could relax; I finally exhaled.
After lunch, Frank called Beth and plans were made to meet Frank and his wife Carol for drinks. I initially was hesitant, but I’m thrilled I went. It was great to see them again and catch up.
The rest of the day and evening was spent at Chez deTreville, talking in the den while the television droned on in the background. No big plans, which was exactly how I wanted it. I had emailed Beth in late October, stating “I don’t care what we do, or where we do it. I simply want to bask in the glow of “The ‘Eths” for a night”, and that’s exactly what I did.
I love and live for our reunions, and while the moment is happening, I’m immersed. It’s the leaving that devastates me.
Beth and I refuse to say goodbye to one another. I would say it’s an unspoken rule as the night comes to an end, but I’m sure this summer, one of us stated out loud hat we were not going to say the word “Goodbye”.
Now, as I write this, a few hours removed from getting one last hug in the parking lot, I really don’t know when I’ll see her again. It could be many months from now. While I can’t say I’m happy about that, I can tell you that I know two things for certain:
A week after I left Anthem, I was riding around town with my brother Brian. He asked, “How ya feeling?”
My answer to him was, “I’m…okay. I stand by all of [what I chose]…except I don’t know how I’m supposed to function without seeing Beth everyday.”
“Oh”, Brian said, “that’ll pass. “
Well, one of the two things I’m certain of tonight is, no, it doesn’t pass or fade. You cope. Because you have to.
Lastly, the night of my last day at Anthem in July, I compared not seeing Beth everyday to losing my right arm. While it’s true that you can never really go home again, for a time on this Friday after Thanksgiving, I guess you could say I was made whole again, and it was wonderful.
Atlanta has a lot that I love. Richmond will always have my right arm.