I remember a somewhat slightly subconscious process that I used to go through when I would make trips back to my hometown from college. Prior to departure, I would mentally compile a list of everyone whom I should contact while at home. These were the people whom I could not miss visiting with whenever I should pass through town. They were close friends and former teachers who would all want to know what I was doing, how I was and to hear of the new and exotic places I’d been since away.
If I saw Chris, then I’d have to call Joe. If I called Joe, Ellen would want to see me. It would be rude if I didn’t check in on Mary and Darrin. And so on it went. I would have to schedule my time very tightly between group gatherings and individual coffees. After all, I owed it to everyone to see him or her if I was in town. They even said that they asked to see me when they heard that I was coming for a visit. I was popular.
Of course, when anyone from out of town visits, one wants to see them. It isn’t so much that you are dying to hang on every word of their time away. It is more a matter of it being nice to see someone you haven’t seen in awhile. When someone comes from out of town, it is fun to hear about the doings and goings on of other places.
But, at the time, the requests to see me all seemed as if obligations to fulfill. It wasn’t that I really thought about it. I didn’t analyze my motives. But, somehow there was a strange mix of my feeling that I owed it to others to see them and that I needed them to see me. It validated my own sense of having succeeded away from home. Hometown boy made good.
Consciously, I thought that this was about other people. I was doing them a favor. I could impart to those who had been living day-in and day-out old lives stuck in one place pieces of the great adventure that I called my life. It was incumbent upon me to share my adventures to enlighten their dull lives.
So they all asked for some of my time while I was visiting and, voila, I was a celebrity.
Nowadays, I view visits differently. I spend time seeking out those whom I wish to know. What have they been doing? I seek out and make time for the people whom I need and want to have in my life. They are the gift to me. I am no longer the celebrity gracing their lives.
That seems more real and accurate, and I like it.