Saturday, September 23, 2006

The gold standard

As I sit here waiting for pictures to upload to the web so I can share them here, endings are on my mind. There was a time when I hated saying goodbye every time Dad was posted to another base and yet I was also excited. Each new post meant meeting more people and seeing a different part of the world or the country. As sad as it was to say goodbye to my friends, and even boyfriends as I got older, the adventure made it all so much easier.

Living as I have, moving from base to base and country to country because of my father being in the Army and with my ex-husband who was in the Air Force, I have never quite understood what it is like to live a whole life within a very short distance of where I was born, going to school with the same people and living in the same rooms decade after decade. I have lost or left behind many things and people and some of them are still a part of my life. Many, however, are not. I seem to be only able to live anywhere for no more than a couple years. Friendships last a little longer than that and I can say I have stayed in contact with my best friend from high school for more than 30 years. That is a long term relationship I managed in neither of my marriages.

Relationships are something else I have left behind when I walked, and sometimes ran, away. I miss the closeness and getting to know someone so well it seemed they would always be a part of me, and in many ways they are still a part of me, having helped me change and grow and learn what is and isn't right for me and in my life.

When I moved to Colorado I knew this would be the last place where I would live because I am finally home. I look forward to years seeing the same sights and driving and walking the same streets and I doubt I will move very far from this haunted apartment in the converted Victorian where I now live. I may not even move from here but rather split my time between here and a cabin higher up in the mountains (when I can afford one). I do understand the appeal of familiarity and there is much that is familiar here in this house. My landlady and Nel have become my neighbors, my friends and my family and I look forward to sharing my life with them. Other people have come into my life since moving here and have drifted or been asked to leave. That is also familiar from my wandering years. I know that few people ever stick around for very long even when they first promised they would always be there. One thing I have learned is that nothing is permanent. I have also learned that nothing true will ever go as sure as nothing gold can stay.

I remember that poem from The Outsiders and from the movie. "...nothing gold can stay."

Nothing Gold Can Stay
by Robert Frost

Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

It took me a long time to figure out just what the poem was saying. It was as if Frost meant that anything gold has only a short life and that even the golden chain of friendship will break. Now I see a different meaning.

Gold is a soft and malleable metal, much like friendships and relationships in the beginning, but gold is enduring and durable. It lasts. Even though dawn gives way to day and day to dusk and back to dawn again, the sun is still there, golden, fierce, strong and enduring. The Earth changes its view, turning slowly around and around, glimpsing the sun as though over a retreating shoulder. So, too, with friends and lovers. If the love is as enduring as gold it will last even when we turn and walk away, catching glimpses here and there over our shoulders. Turn and walk back and the love remains. The gold is still there with fresh newness.

There are times when we need to walk away to get a fresh perspective because something isn't working or the timing isn't quite right. It's like retreating from the blaze of a summer sun in the desert or never looking directly at the sun without some protection to filter out its full majesty and power. So, too, with friends and lovers. There is a time to stand out under the full fierce gaze of the sun and a time to retreat under cover lest we be burned. One thing is certain. If the friendship or the love is made of that durable and enduring gold, it will still be there when the time is right and we have had the time to realize what a precious gift we let fall by the wayside. Walking away isn't the end, sometimes it is a beginning.

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