Yesterday I was left behind. Literally. This is no issue for which I need an emotional first aid kit. What started as a wave of panic washed quickly into humor. The windows of Bergdorf Goodman were tempting against the backdrop of consumption and creature comfort. I wanted something new when I was 5 years old, and I still do.
Appropriately, my family decided to take a long walk down the American River yesterday, and on route certain people peeled off for different excursions. There were, apparently, three phases of this adventure, and I was ready to cross over and create more. Phase one, the village and antique stores, phase two, the footbridge to cross the river, phase three, the river bank. I wanted to keep walking – not away, but with. By the last phase, I bushwhacked up towards Hazel with the two remaining cousins. There were so many spawning salmon. And even though we sat by the skeletons on the rocks, even though we smelled their death, we saw their life slapping in and out of the water to reach that prized spot upstream. I felt like I was one of them.
Anyhow, we turned around to walk back to the house, and on the way saw my mom. She was with my aunts, and they had been shopping in the Village. It seemed, however, that the Uncles and a few remaining cousins had landed at the local dive bar. On a street with one bar, the day after Thanksgiving, the attendance was sparse. But, filled with my quirky family, it felt comforting and ridiculous to be there at 2pm. I downed some water, and got antsy. I hadn’t been in this part of California in maybe 15 years. It used to be one of my local haunts.
So I told my mom I was going to a bookstore two doors down. Given that we had all split up and come back together in various forms, it was logical that someone may have thought I’d already left to go to the house. But I hadn’t. I left my phone in the bar, and when I came back, it was gone, along with everyone who shared my blood.
It was a mere four blocks to get back, I was safe throughout; but I did, for a minute, feel like a faulty electron. What hurt was that no one said they were sorry. I named my destination, and I asked not to be left behind. I was. What hurt more was that when I told the story, with humor and bite, the only thing my mom noted was my stupidity in the situation. I left my phone. I could have walked. I should be able to take care of myself. Alone. That’s what I have done all my life – manage, alone. But this holiday, armed with the excitement of so many cousins my age, I didn’t feel alone. I didn’t feel alone until that moment when I walked into the dive bar.
I’ve struggled with belonging, how much space to have in each relationship. It must have begun long ago. I always had to walk away for a while. Perhaps I value this story because it set me aside and I wanted to stand out. Perhaps my family is racked in guilt now. Perhaps they see me, and this is most likely, as a giant drama queen. Really, getting left behind like this is awesome, because it has a happy ending. I’m loved. I may not be understood, rightly seen, admired, or outwardly needed, but I am loved.