I fly here a few times a year. My best friend Maria and her husband, Lewis, are here. My godson, A, is here and all my friends are here or come here. I wished I liked Atlanta more.
I am in Atlanta to celebrate A's first holy communion and his sister, S's second birthday. The occasion brings everyone. Maria is the center in which occasions like this draw various friends and family.
Vic, who lives here and is A's godfather, and I, with Eddie, A's cousin, sat in the back pews for the Eucharist mass. We tried unsuccessfully to divert A's attention and lure him to sit back here with us. We made jokes and laughed pretty much all the way through the service, which explains why we are in the back pews. Sitting up front would have gotten us in trouble with A's grandparents.
On S's birthday celebration, more people came in; like Paula who I haven't seen in ages and have loads of fun with. We, the friends and family, celebrated by chasing kids around, opening presents, and making plans to see one another over the summer.
Yesterday morning I got up early to spend time with A before he went to school. This a ritual I have with him on the day I leave. He becomes upset when he doesn't see me the day I leave even if I have said goodbye the night before.
My godchild has a way of crystallizing a moment; I realize I am missing his and his sister's growing up.
A: When are you leaving?
Me: Today. Your mom is dropping me at the train station at noon.
Me: You know I'll be back for your birthday.
A stares at me with solemn eyes and nods.
Me: It's not the same; is it?
A: No, it's not the same.
Maria comes in to the living room and bundles A up. He gives me a hug and leaves for school. I wait until Lewis heads to work and I am babysitting S for a few minutes, who is sleeping. Then I cry.
I already miss my friends terribly. I miss the kids. I miss my second family. I miss the memories that linger here. Even the bad ones. Yet I make the decision every time to go back to