Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Childhood Good-byes

There is a memory stuck in my head, looping and looping, and I can't quite place why it's there. The summer between 7th and 8th grade, my dad was transferred from his four-year assignment in Hawaii to his next tour of duty at the Pentagon. I was a couple of months shy of 13. My sister and I were going to leave six weeks before the rest of the family and stay with our grandparents and then cousins in Massachusetts.

My last day at Hickam AFB, I happened to be outside in the morning on what turned out to be the first day of summer school. Two older girls, both soon to be freshmen, were on the corner diagonally to our house, waiting for the school bus. "Real" school had been out a couple of weeks. We had hung together a bit; they were part of the larger crowd I hung with. We were not good friends. All of my good friends had already departed with their dads to their next tours of duty. I was the last one left.

We greeted each other. They asked when I was leaving. I told them it was that day, and they wished me well. I don't remember their names. I'm kind of grateful that my memory bank isn't overdrawn with remembering who they were. Nameless, faceless girls. One skinny, tiny really, and the other a head taller than most boys their age. Both cheerleader pretty. Both in-crowd types.

When we were at the airport later, many of my sister's friends came to see her off, complete with leis and many tears. No one came to see me off, aside from my immediate family, of course. Like I said, any real friends I had were already gone. Everyone else was just nameless, faceless.

I don't know why this scene has been stuck in my brain the last few days. I can't place it. I don't think either of them was named Joanne. She doesn't resemble either of the girls. She's the one leaving, not me. There's no similarities, either, I don't think, between her daughters and the girls or my daughter and the girls.

But there's something there that's making this memory of departure forefront in my mind, above all others. And, frankly, it's driving me nuts. I'm going to open up comments in hope that one of you has some clue as to why this scene is screaming in my brain for attention.

4 comments:

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Marcy said...

JMHO -- 13 is one tough age -- and this feeling of being at loose ends and without friends was probably a big time traumatic event for you. With all of your friends gone and unable to see you off, you must have been feeling quite forgotten and insignificant when you left for the States. It may not seem that way now -- time and distance may have diminished the feeling -- but having your friend depart ahead of you again and leaving you alone is burbling that memory up again. Or something like that.......

---Michael--- said...

This may not be applicable, but then again it might. When I was training for the Army at Fort Belvoir in Virginia, the proverbial mailcall would come, and all too often, nothing. (My family did not write letters of any kind to anyone for any reason.) And yet a letter came from the girl I left behind me, and my world was suddenly an entirely different one from the other troops who had no one.

Bubba's Sis said...

Goodbyes are always hard, and for some reason that particular departure/goodbye is relating back to you now that you are saying goodbye to someone you love....perhaps in hope that you will not be nameless or faceless to her once she is gone (which I know you won't be). But subconciously, maybe...

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