This makes me feel a bit badly. To somebody reading this, it might make me sound like a knucklehead. Maybe I am, but I hope that this does not come off as a knock against J or anybody that has gone down a similar path as her. It's definitely not. I just get these weird feelings about that lifestyle and felt like putting my thoughts down on e-paper to see how it played out.
My weirdness notwithstanding, I did enjoy my time with J. For reasons unknown to me, she is a big Bob Barker / TPIR fan, so we tried to enjoy 60 minutes of fun pricing games, wheel spinning, and showcase showdowns. For the most part, we failed. Instead, we talked about her children, her husband, and her plans for the future. We also spent a strange amount of time trying to figure out if it'd be creepy for me to randomly call up a 70 year old woman. I maintain that it is.
One rather interesting experience for me was holding J's baby. I hoped to have a bit of a John Cusack in Grosse Pointe Blank moment. I did not. While I was pleased that he stopped fussing the moment J handed him to me, we did not exactly stare deep into each others' eyes and souls. Instead, I began to chuckle as I imagined how many times that lucky kid was going to hear his mother tell him, "Bob Barker loves you."
P and her husband, J, might be what I want to be when I get a bit more mature, minus all the hard work they do. Hard work is not really my thing. They didn't seem to play by anybody else's rules. J had long hair until recently. I think he still owns his bright purple suits though. The last time I saw them, approximately 8 years ago, P drove a Camaro and J drove a Corvette. I love that they did what they wanted to do and that they were successful, financially and otherwise.
I met with P yesterday. She and J had abandoned their rebel ways a bit (their 80s cars have been replaced with newer models that do not immediately invoke memories of hairspray metal bands), but she was just as much of a sweetheart as ever, if not more. J wasn't able to make it home from work during our visit, but P called him so that he and I could have what might have been the nicest 30-second phone call in the history of me and the telephone. She made me lunch, talked with me about some things that mattered, and let me take a nap on her back porch swing. When I woke up to leave, she had packed me some food for the road. Along with snacks, the doggy bag included a note that was just so typically P. Nobody else could have written a note this endearing. If you read it, you'd understand. You'd know why I feel the way that I do about P and J and why I suddenly felt that the 1,532 mile drive between their house and mine was so worth it.
This time around, things were not nearly the same. The trails were well-groomed, lined with rocks, and full of people of all shapes, sizes, and ages. Signs pointed out how far you had gone since you left the parking lot. Yes, there was a parking lot. And the trail even had a name now. Blasphemy! Where had my crappy dirt path leading up the side of Badger Mountain gone? Where were all the curmudgeons that didn't bother to recognize my existence?
If you've ever gone back to your old hometown or gone back to your college town for homecoming, you may have had similar thoughts. To most people, the changes on that mountain might be seen as an improvement. I even tried to view them that way. But for better or worse, the changes were changes. Things just weren't the same, and I missed the way things used to be.
As we made our way down the hill, I had similar thoughts about my sister. B is still younger than me, but she is no longer young. She has a family of her own and doesn't really need me. She will be happy in life or sad in life all on her own. I'm fine with that, but It's also odd. I miss my old little sister just like I miss my old Badger Mountain, even though my new little sister is probably an improvement over my old little sister. But that doesn't really change things for me.
I'll get over it. There really isn't even an issue. I had a wonderful time with B, with her daughter, E, and even with her BFF (or, if you prefer, her BF, F). I'm happy with the improvements that she's made and look forward to her future and being a part of it. RIP, old B. You were loved. Welcome, new B. You are loved.