The eight of us were sitting in Digger’s Diner early Monday morning, ordering the same thing we’ve been ordering for years. At first glance you’d never be able to tell that we all spend 90% of the year away from each other, in different states with different friends. We laughed at the same jokes we told in high school, told the same stories and asked the same questions. From the outside, you’d never know.
I drove home that morning by myself. It was still early and the streets were quiet. I drove past Starbucks and the high school, past the swimming pool and the park. Everything was exactly the same as it always has been, and yet it felt so different – like I didn’t belong anymore. It felt like we were just going through the motions. We only had breakfast together because we had to, not because we really wanted to. Sure we were sitting at the same table laughing at the same things, but it was obvious that our minds were somewhere else. As I turned off the main road towards my house, it hit me: we were visitors in the city that once was ours.
Growing up is inevitable. Leaving home is just part of life. For a while we were able to come back in December and August and recreate the memories, postpone the feeling of intrusion, draw out the friendships we relied on for so many years. But I think we’re past that point now. As our little group of friends scatters across the globe we only have the memories, ones that now seem haunt us as we drive the streets we once knew.
As we continue to grow older and grow apart, as we graduate from college and move across the country, as we get married and start families of our own, we’ll always have the memories of each other. But I’m starting to realize that things cannot be the way they once were, and growing apart doesn’t mean caring less. We just have different lives now. It’s weird and it’s hard and dealing with this realization over the past week has been tough, but it’s part of life, there’s no way to stop it.
We’ll keep coming back home. We’ll continue to visit the places we used to frequent as kids, we’ll still laugh at the memories and keep each other updated on our new lives. But Concord belongs to a new generation. It’s time for us to go.