This weekend, one of my very good friends moves back to the UK. Claire McGill, aka Desperate English Housewife in Washington, is leaving after three years living, breathing, and "being" everything that Howard County, Maryland, and the United States has to offer.
I often think about how we (i.e., Howard County/Columbia) are perceived by other people around the state. We have a peculiar way about us that makes detailed study a worthwhile endeavor. When the greatest public nuisance is considering whether a Grateful Dead Tribute performance simulcast around the world was "too loud", you need to look around and think "I sure do love this place, but it's not 'normal'."
That was one of the things I loved (and still love) about Claire's blog. She would write about something being "Americaland" (innit?) that was actually quite Columbialand. On other occasions, she would comment on a certain style or attitude being "American" that was otherwise quite foreign from Howard County. Her observations were rarely wrong, but the fact that observations were being made at all merited attention and scrutiny of the world around you. Packaged by a great writer with an amazing sense of humor and a constant camera, and you have one amazing blog.
But Claire's blog was the smallest of her contributions here. When you live in proximity to someone soaking up everything life has to offer, the world looks different. That random ad about a festival or musical performance changes from background noise to an agenda. Small amounts of time are stretched and packed with memories, stories, and people. At some point you think, "I should do this all the time" before your subconscious convinces you that you are too tired, you have too many chores to do, or you can't afford it. Here's a secret I learned from Claire - you're not, you don't, and you probably can.
Personally, Claire is one of the best friends Nicole and I have. And not just because she brought so much fun to our life. She was there for us when we were sick, when we needed help with our new baby, and even when we just needed someone to say "Hey, get out of your house." Babies have a way of making you shut-ins and that wasn't something Claire was going to allow.
I'm not good with goodbyes. Never have been. We're already planning a trip to the UK next year. But even if I never acknowledge a "goodbye", I know I will miss Claire, Jel, and Harry every time I just want to "do something" without making the obligatory plans one week in advance that so many of my friends (rightfully) require. I will miss them when I see a festival or fair that I know they would enjoy. But the best thing we can say about friends we will miss is that you have valued your time together. It would be impossible to overstate how much that time has meant to me and how it will hold a special place in my heart.
Have a great Thursday doing what you love.