When my husband and I moved from Pampa, Texas to Dallas 5 ½ years ago, my friend Pat told me in the midst of our searing separation about her mother’s friend who when she moved away from Pampa said, “I won’t live long enough to make another friend like Jane.”
Jane was Pat’s mother who died in 1978. The friend, Miss Kitty—83 on her birthday in May—has lived long enough perhaps to make a friend like Jane, but not in the right place.
Pampa was a place for growing friendships. The 25 years I lived there established the roots of friendships that still bear fruit, not only in my life, but also in the lives of my children who find themselves dispersed from Pampa, flung throughout Texas from a place that shaped our family's values, views and experiences. Our Town. My town. I miss the people if not the Panhandle wind.
Schools and churches and businesses and houses lined unremarkable streets—from mansions to trailer parks, farms and ranches, oil and industry, old and new money—and a cemetery right across from the town's 4-A High School. I could tell you stories.
If dead people could tell their stories, the way Thornton Wilder in his play Our Town had characters speak from the grave, I like to imagine the dearly departed would want to convey from beyond the headstones and monuments and well-tended graves of Fairview Cemetery the wonder of small-town living.
Doubtless characters who populated real-life stories would adjure appreciation for the accumulation of ordinary days. Would we pay attention?
My friend Pat went home to Pampa yesterday after spending three days with my husband and me. Never enough time for all the questions and conversations and tangential exploration into personal histories and the trajectory of our futures, she leaves me hungry for her next visit.
Because I realize I won’t live long enough to make another friend like Pat.