Kurt and Ann, our neighbors across the street, are calling it quits and putting their home up for sale. They're the last of the neighbors here that we could reasonably call friends, at least enough that we'd have informal chats over a beer, without the need to have planned in advance.
I haven't realized until lately how much kids contribute to the relationships parents have with one another. They're the ones who end up introducing us to the people who will be our friends and bonds that are first formed by the common cause -- our kids.
When the kids disappear, a mechanism disappears, too and one day you wake up and realize that you don't really know anybody anymore.
Take my onetime best friends, John and Debby. John was in our wedding. We've known each other since college. When we were deciding to move from Massachusetts to Minnesota years ago, one of the reasons for not moving -- after proximity to family -- was John and Debby.
A couple of years ago, their only son was killed early one Sunday morning. I didn't find out about it for a month and after traveling back to New England to see them, we haven't talked since. Phone calls, e-mails, and letters go unanswered. No kids, no friends. They've moved on.
"There's really no reason for us to stay here," I said to Carolie last night, making more of an observation than establishing a plan. Still, I'll miss sitting around on the bench with Kurt, as much as I miss the days when you could walk around the neighborhood and stop in for a chat.
The airport life, I hope, will take up part of that vacuum. Last night, I was over at the airport and decided to stop in at the hangar of David and Mary Maib, who are building an RV-10. There was no reason, other than to just say "hello." In this case, our "kids" are actually are airplanes -- or our airplane projects -- but the benefits are the same.
I feel bad for Kurt and Ann. I still feel bad for John and Debby. But in the darkness of an early morning, shocked awake by thoughts of disappearing friendships, I admit to mostly feeling bad for me.
6 months ago