As I listened to it echo through the phone, the 22 years of a lost connection melted away. I instantly remembered a sound that I had long forgotten – it was the laughter of friendship. Later, as this friend and I met and hugged and reminisced at a local Starbucks, the fond memories of years past came flooding back…awash with shared meals and adult refreshment, a trip to Canada, card games, watching her children grow, and pondering why we let these years pass without so much as a “hello.” If I hadn’t been so happy to see her, I might have had to wipe away the mist of regret.
Funny, before this friend and I reconnected, I had been ruminating about life and people of the past. Where did the time go? How did I get this old? Why didn’t I stay connected with some of the old friends, the ones that I grew up with or worked with when I was younger? Have I forsaken too much of the past?
She has this yearning to visit her home town of Waupaca during the last week of June, with a friend or alone, to visit the places that were part of her early existence -the spot where dad managed a grocery store, the building where bands played on Saturday night, the locations where she attended school from Kindergarten to 11th grade, and the last home she lived in before the family moved to another city. She is unsure why, but something beckons her back to this small Midwest town to reconnect with origin. Waupaca is only 40 minutes from where she currently lives and, yet, she rarely goes there. Once the young woman left Waupaca, she didn’t have a desire to go back and visit. As a teenager, she couldn’t wait to move out, to find her way amid life in the “big city.” Waupaca was too small and boring, and she needed adventure.
Origin may come from birth in a hometown or one event that steers a person toward a specific path. In self-reflecting of late, I believe that origin is surrounded and created by people and stages of life. Yes, I was born in a specific year, in a specific town, and given my mother’s middle name. But I don’t believe my origin is completely centered around that point. There have been many points of origin in life: The day I moved out of my parents’ home and into a small upper apartment; the day I was married; the day, 30 years later, of divorce; the day I earned the title “Biker Chick;” and the day, 40 years past, that I began employment as a public servant.
She was overwhelmed by the enormity of it all. Forty years? Really? Surrounded by so many peers and co-workers, past and present, she looked around the room and alternately felt joyously grateful and hungry. Hungry for cake and the connections of those she knew throughout her career, grateful for the friends she made and the wonderful boss and co-workers who threw her a party. She had a difficult time believing that so much time had passed for she did not feel that old. Reconnecting with former co-workers felt good, as if they had not retired or moved on five, ten, fifteen years ago. To several old friends, she cried, “When are we getting together for lunch? Or adult refreshment? Or both?” From the beginning of her career to the current state of affairs, she had been mostly blessed with great bosses (save for one) and excellent co-workers (save for one or two) that kept her muddling through the many changes in computer programs and administrative directives. She looked around the room again and saw the origin of her work life. This public employee felt blessed.
Origin is paramount to chapters of a book and the characters within it. As each chapter passes, whether the story is happy or sad and the characters good or not-so-nice, a twist in the plot forms. The story ebbs and flows, builds character, and changes paths along the way, creating many points of origin, creating the total sum of me. I cannot say that any one occurrence was the origin of who I am today. It’s taken many years, many experiences, and many points of origin to become this Mary J: The bike/feline/StarTrek/God-and-people loving nerd in burgundy red glasses.So, now, I circle back to my parents, the ones who gave me life, who taught morals, values, work ethic and faith.
She misses her father deeply, the one who gave her a wacky wit and sweet tooth and love of animals, his deep voice forever imbedded into her memory. The plant given to her at his death has met its own demise and that saddens her. It always reminded her of him, of his green thumb and garden. Part of her origin is from him, in her love of digging in the dirt, the comedic delivery, and constant craving of sugary foods. I blame him for a recent weight gain…
As her mother lives, the daughter is reminded of this side of her origin. Mom taught her to cook and clean, to say “please” and “thank you,” to study hard in school, to show up for work on time, and to enjoy adult refreshment from time to time. Both mom and dad instilled faith and Catholic guilt, the latter from which she is still recovering. As daughter holds mother’s aged hand in the assisted living facility, the 96 year old woman asks her to take her “home.” These days, home is back in Milwaukee, with mom and dad and 12 brothers and sisters. This is her origin, the place that her mind takes her to, the place that is vivid and real. Her daughter smiles, knowing that one day she will also return home, the novel of her origins complete.
What is your origin, peeps? Where did you come from? Who are you?
If you care to read about other bloggers’ origins, find your way to The Discovery Weekly Writing Challenge HERE.