So October 2011 was wild – even my last two posts represented the splitting of my personality. Fortunately I’m back from the brink and I’m thinking about things that anchor me when I’m totally fried. One thing I know for sure is that friendship helps.
I’m often asked this question by friends and family: Who do you miss the most? Usually it’s in the form of a statement though. Like “You must really miss your folks.” And indeed we do miss our folks. We think about and talk about and communicate with our loved ones but we are not homesick. We are not pining to return to the US. We talk about our return and dream about our new apartment, but we really are doing a sincere job of loving life here in Cologne day to day. We miss everyone and no one in particular. This absolutely goes for every single person we know. Except for one.
His name is Owen S. He is five and he is one of Keogh’s best friends. Keogh met Owen the first day of preschool two years ago. They were fast friends in the way only children and very very lucky adults can be. Owen and Keogh immediately joined (perhaps created) a gang. Yes, there are gangs in preschool now. They called themselves the Bad Guys. “We are bad guys!” rung out over the playground in regular 6 second clips for most of the 2009/2010 school year. We know that this made the teachers crazy. But we secretly loved it. The boys weren’t really bad. They just loved saying they were bad.
Owen moved to Seattle six months before we moved to Germany. For weeks Keogh talked about Owen and literally dreamt of his old play dates with Owen. He keenly felt the gap of friendship. He did not bond with another child in the same way. Keogh has friends and is a perfectly normal social boy. He adores a few dear friends from NYC, a special buddy from Philly and a handful of NJ and PA guys. On some level he understands that these friends will be back in his life on a regular basis at some point in the future. But Owen can’t be.
I guess what makes me miss Owen the most is twofold. Firstly Owen was Keogh’s first independent friendship – no parental manipulation. And secondly it is my and our collective longing for the possibility of this kind of friendship. Keogh and Owen looked at each other, connected, started to play and formed a tribe. Instantly. The chemistry! The ease! The total lack of self consciousness! Being human just doesn’t get any more cool than that. A friendship like that cancels out a lifetime of crazy making Octobers.
The bird a nest.
The spider a web.
The human friendship.
– William Blake