When I was almost 11 years old in 1968, my father packed up the car, the kids and the wife, along with all our hopes and dreams and ripped us out of the womb of LaGrange, Il. He sold us on the "better life" in Virginia with better schools, better people, better job, greener pastures, etc. We bought it. We believed it. We had no choice. We waved good-bye to the 15-20 kids surrounding our Oldsmobile station wagon on Stone Avenue and thought we were off on a great adventure. None of us said it at the time, but I believe every one of us thought this was just like a vacation--a vacation that would end and bring us right back home.
But it didn't end. And the moving on didn't end either. And we never saw the Stone Avenue kids again. I don't recall any of us acknowledging it, but I know we all carried a deep and lasting pain of missing our friends, and our way of life there. And later we would all acknowledge that we always wondered "Did we mean as much to them as they meant to us? Did we MATTER?"
Through the "miracle" of Facebook, we began to reconnect with old names, old friends. We "friended" some of our old buddies, but it felt superficial, a bit contrived. I never found my best friend, Peggy, online and no one seemed to know where she was, other than "California". But then, after much networking by my tenacious sister, Kerry, it all came together.
This year, on the weekend of the LaGrange Pet Parade, most of us reunited. And the last to arrive was Peggy. She didn't know me at first (because she had no expectation that I would be there), but when she realized who I was, she looked stunned, amazed, and very moved. We embraced warmly and she exclaimed proudly "You were my BEST friend." I replied, "You were my best friend!"