I went to South Jersey last weekend for the first time in several years. The reason for the visit was my 26th year high school reunion (it's a long story).
The weekend encompassed a roller coaster of emotions for me. Of course, it started with the joy of seeing Atlantic City again and noting the improvements that have been made since my last visit. This was followed by the reunion itself. What a wonderful evening, seeing old friends and acquaintances from high school. Reminiscing about the "good old days". I had so much fun I really didn't want it to end. In fact, some of us stayed out until 3:00 am in an effort to continue the party.
The next day began the downhill portion of my roller coaster ride. I drove the family through my old neighborhood, pointing out to the girls the 5 miles I had to ride my bike in the snow uphill both ways to school, and the houses of my friends who, in one way or another, were no longer around. Then we went to Ocean City. I told my family of the endless nights we spent trolling the boardwalk, from one end to the other. The days we'd spend on the beach catching some rays. At this point I found myself mourning my youth. I saw all of the young people walking around as I used to, and realized that I'd never have that feeling back again.
Driving back to AC, we took the route I used to take when I worked at Resorts. It was then that I started reliving the loneliness that I felt during those days. The years of driving home from work to an empty apartment, dreading the weekends when I would hardly speak to another living being. This is a time that I did not mourn.
But of course, those times led to meeting my wife, buying a house, having kids, moving to Ohio...the things which cured my loneliness and gave me purpose.
That evening my family and I had dinner with some old friends from high school. It was at this point that I came back to the present...and enjoyed it. I was in a bar with family and friends in a town that raised me. This is what it means to be happy.