My mom and dad have these friends they've known since they were first married. The wife of the couple passed away a few years ago, God rest her soul, but the husband is still with us. They are (were?? having trouble with tenses here because only one is still living) my brother's godparents and the kind of friends who are enough like family that I grew up calling them Aunt and Uncle and referring to their kids as my cousins even though there is zero blood relationship. Yes, that was a rambling and probably grammatically incorrect introduction, but it does at least explain my relationship with the guy I'm about to discuss, who is the younger of their two kids and about two years older than I am. I'll call him Frank.
My parents only lived in the same city as Frank's parents (a smaller one in upstate NY) for six or seven years, but Frank's parents were born and raised in that town and they stayed to raise their own kids there as well. Frank went through high school there and didn't quite manage his dream of getting into Notre Dame, although several of his closer high school friends did. He wound up attending another nationally known university a few hours away. The year I was a freshman and he was a junior, I went home with him for some school break or other...maybe spring break? Any cockamamie idea the collective parents might have had about Frank and I ending up together ended at that point, because even then both of us could tell there was just no way for a variety of reasons, but we get along well to this day. At any rate, through him, I got to know his two friends at ND, one male and one female.
After he graduated from college, he moved right back home, started working for his dad and married a local girl. Incidentally, his two friends from ND married each other and moved back home as well. Frank and his wife still live in that city, I believe even in the same suburb he grew up in. As the icing on the cake, one of the first homes he and his wife bought together was the house he grew up in!! (His parents had sold it some years earlier.) They don't live in that house anymore but are still in the same area and have three kids of their own, who are in the same general age range as my kids. Also incidentally, Frank's older sister (whom I'll call Ella) never left that town at all except maybe for college...she married relatively young and has her own three kids. Both of my "cousins" and their dad still live very close together and Ella and her kids actually lived with her parents for many years after her divorce.
I was thinking about all of this recently (yes, I'm sure you're all wondering where I'm going with this by now...) because I am Facebook friends with Frank. He posted two pictures of the same bunch of guys, including the guy friend I know from ND, stacked up into a pyramid (cheerleader-style) on a beach...one taken when they were in high school and one taken this past summer, twenty-five plus years later. I simply canNOT process spending my *entire life* with the same people in the same town by choice. Not that there's anything wrong with it, it's just so utterly different from my own life experience that I can't even begin to imagine it. How do you change and grow as a person when you are with the same people forever? And how in the world, as an outsider, could you ever even HOPE to become part of a group that has been together since preschool and has had family in the same town for generations when you aren't from there?? Thank all the gods in the pantheon that nothing ever worked out between me and Frank, since I can't imagine how somebody as peripatetic as I've been my whole life could ever fit in with people who don't want to live anywhere other than that one suburb in upstate NY...wowza.
The irony, of course, is that I've lived in my current small-town house for the better part of twelve years now. It's the only home any of my kids know (Thing One was an infant when we moved here.) I moved all over the earth as a kid, but my kids will most likely live here until they go off into the world on their own. Wonder if they will feel compelled to move back here to settle down as well? Has the pendulum swung the other way?? Only time will tell.