For the past few weeks, I’ve been at my parents old home (my childhood home) clearing out endless amounts of stuff. My parents lived here for over 50 years, and they were both packrats. They are both deceased, so my sister and I are going through everything without a guide as to what is of value and what is not. It can be an emotionally draining experience, which is why its taking us so long.
Yesterday, out of the clear blue, I got a message through Facebook from an old, old friend, Alan (not his real name). I haven’t seen or heard from him in decades, but, as Facebook is known to do, it suggested him about a year and a half ago. We connected, and had a brief private message, but nothing more. Alan was one of my few “cool” friends when I was younger. He was more of a guy’s guy, and he had this impish free spirit that girls loved.
For some reason, he was friends with me.
We ended up going to different high schools, and we drifted apart. I vaguely remember stories of where he went to college, but that was about it. It had been ages, and I knew nothing more of him. Then, he randomly comes up in my Facebook feed as a connection, and we had an initial back and forth, but no more. He’s a Dead Head, with a massive beard, but also, fairly religious (i don’t think there is incompatibility, but it does seem odd). That was about it.
Yesterday’s message, however, caught me by surprise. He said he had a dream about me, and my parents home, and all the fun times he had over there when we were kids. He remembered my dad’s fishtanks, our basement, and geeking out to Star Wars. It was a happy dream, and he just wanted to share it with me. He asked me if I was happy and if life had been good to me.
For any of you who have had to clear out their childhood home, this was the nicest, most timely, message you could ask for. In the midst of the emotional drain of cleaning up your childhood, this was the message you want to hear. There are many changes I wish I had made in my life. These are situations from decades ago — mistakes I made in relationships, mistakes I made with friends, mistakes I made in my career — that still haunt me. I wake up most every morning thinking of one. I usually don’t make it out of bed without calling myself an “asshole” for something I did in the past. Being in my parents old home, and unearthing more of those memories, makes it even more poignant.
Then, out of nowhere, my old friend Alan, shares a fond memory from our childhood, the one cool kid who liked me, and asks, if life has been good to me. He didn’t ask about a wife, family, friends, or a job; he just wanted to know if I was happy. I thought about it for a long while and then I finally answered him honestly: yes, life had been good to me.
It was surprising to me that I said it, but honestly, truthfully, even with all the mistakes and ups and downs, overall, it had been an okay life so far.
The part I can’t get past, however, was the timing. It was at a point where I am feeling down and emotionally drained, and then, out of the blue, one of the few friends I had from my youth reaches out. I have had dreams about friends and times in my youth, but I don’t think I have ever reached out afterwards to check on the person, like Alan did. I think I’m going to start now. You never know when someone might need it.