|quote du jour:
"Could we see when and where we are to meet again, we would be more tender when we bid our friends goodbye." -- Marie Louise De La Ramee
They are the Cajun Trio.
I still remember the weekend I met them in 1997. I was lying in the floor of my bedroom at my mother's house and watching TV when the phone rang. It was Jessie. She said that she, her sister and three friends from Oakdale were on their way for a midnight trip to Smallville. Why? Because the three friends had never been.
I quickly showered, discovered that the most respectable parts of my wardrobe were dirty and ended up wearing a navy t-shirt that didn't fit quite right. It amazes me that I still remember such details. I made the drive across town to Jessie & Amanda's parents' house and met some folks who would eventually influence my life in a way I could not have imagined then.
Zoë, Maria & Doc were the first people I'd ever met from "down 'da bayou" in south Louisiana -- that's how they earned the nickname. They were also the first people, other than Jessie & Amanda, that I'd met from SUO. From the moment I met them, something drew me to them. They were cute, smart, funny, friendly & real. In my world, that's not a combination you run into every day.
I don't remember who, but one of the four of us named it, "The Test Beacon." As the story goes, this imaginary light would shine in the sky above Oakdale any time a member of the Cajun Trio had a test the next day. I would see this light and respond immediately to their dorm room to distract them with humor & insight. This ritual obviously enriched their lives -- they were, after all, spending time with me. However, I doubt my words of wisdom were much help on those tests.
Seriously, I had some crazy knack for showing up during study time. While they often welcomed the break, I didn't always know when to say goodbye. Zoë didn't either. Doc still gives me grief about those visits to this day. Of course, she's a year away from being a medical Doctor and Maria & Zoë have almost earned their Doctor of Pharmacy degrees. So I obviously didn't harm the learning process too much.
Carl Jung once said, "everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves." Personally, I've often found that the people who share traits with me usually irritate the hell out of me.
I'm not exactly sure what that means and I'll let you make your own connections with my perspective and the quote. But I said that so I could say that Zoë is different. She is probably the one person I know that is most like me and she doesn't irritate me at all. Maria & Doc are important to me -- Doc has probably always been more important to me than she should. But there seems to be a level of understanding between Zoë & I that I've never experienced with anyone else.
We're both the more relaxed & care-free half of our friendships with our best friends. We share some similarities in the relationship category (one similarity will not be marriage -- something she's doing later this year). We're both deep thinkers -- to a fault, sometimes. We both really like The Carpenters. I think we both really want to get the most out of life. We both march to the beat of our own drummer (see earlier reference to The Carpenters).
From her graduation card to me: "It's amazing that I've known you for five years and it's even more amazing the craziness we've done, been through & laughed about. I immediately felt close & comfortable with you. We just clicked from the beginning. From a late night [at Jessie & Amanda's] to now, you've become my best guy friend. (You can consider than an honor if you like.) I can't imagine my college experience without you and I hope it doesn't end there."
Ditto, Zoë... Ditto.
Commencement at SUO was last weekend. I drove down to see a friend graduate and, more importantly, close a chapter in my life. I spent a couple of nights with Zoë, Maria & Doc -- the first time I'd been with all three of them in more than a year. As I figure, it will probably be one of the last times.
Maria & Zoë are entering their last year of Pharmacy School and are leaving Oakdale this month to do their rotations. Zoë will be married by the end of the year. Maria just got engaged. Doc, who moved away in 2000 for medical school, is a year away from finishing that and will only move further away with her degree in hand.
Three of the reasons I moved to Oakdale for school were Maria, Zoë & Doc. The time I spent in college at Oakdale is so important to me that it's almost hard to remember what life was like before I arrived there. And now, the people that were such an important part of my college life are moving on. I don't feel left behind, necessarily, because I've been gone from Oakdale for a year now. But their leaving somehow punctuates my own departure. We're growing up and we're heading off in our own directions.
I'm thankful to be living in Franklin, to have the job I do and be where I am in life... but I must admit that I've been homesick since hugging Zoë at her door, saying goodbye and leaving Oakdale Sunday afternoon. I'm homesick not for a town or a place, but for a period of time and the people that were important during that time.
I'm a groomsman in Zoë's wedding. Doc & Maria are both bride's maids. No one has died. We're separated only by distance. I will see the three of them again. But it'll never be the same. The saying is true -- you can never go back. And so, I'm left here sitting between feeling sad that it's over and feeling so very blessed that it happened.
Copyright © 2003, Thomas Fletcher. All Rights Reserved.