Isn’t it strange how memory works? Certain sights, sounds, and smells (so, I’ve been told) can bring to mind things that never would have crossed someone’s mind in the course of a normal day.
One of my memory triggers is seeing orange lilies growing along the side of a road.
Every time I pass orange lilies growing along the side of a road, I am instantly transported to the summer of my 20th birthday. The lilies bloom in late June (you may see them now if you pay attention). They’ve been in bloom for a couple of weeks now, and every morning on my drive to work I see them. Every morning, I’m immediately reminded of a June day in 1995.
The day was probably a weekend, but I really have no way to be sure. What I do remember is that it was sometime around the middle of the afternoon. My friends Angela and Greg met me for lunch at a place called Teddy’s Chop Suey in Clarksville. It was a little restaurant that had a decent buffet of mediocre Chinese food. We liked it because it was cheap, it was greasy, and it was horribly unholy (for you kosher types) and unhealthy.
As the three of us exited from the restaurant, Angela commented on a group of orange lilies growing in a patch of brush and undergrowth. The area was covered in poison ivy and was prime real estate for snakes, ticks, and any number of other vermin and vectors. Being a 19-year-old boy (my birthday wasn’t for another month), I decided that I was going to impress the girl with a pretty flower.
I trudged through the bushes and snagged a couple of the bright orange flowers. I handed them to Angela with a grin. She smiled, thanked me, and we all parted ways. The event was really no big deal. It wasn’t the beginning of a romance, it wasn’t the last time I ever saw them, I was not bitten by any critters, nor did I get poison ivy. It was a wholly insignificant occurrence on a random June day.
A few weeks later I was sitting in Angela’s living room and saw those flowers (long since dead) in a vase on top of her family’s entertainment system. The fact the she had kept them made me grin. Seeing those dead flowers reminded me of that afternoon. I remembered that insignificant event, and it brought to mind the great friendship that I shared with Greg and Angela.
Angela and Greg are still two of my dearest friends. Though, I do not see them as often as I would like. The reason is simple. They both still live in Tennessee. I speak to Greg very infrequently, but I try to see him at least a couple of times every time I am in Tennessee. I still speak to Angela about once a month or so, and visit her when I am back home too. So, while we are still best of friends, we are not as close as we once were.
Whenever I see orange lilies I think of them. I think of my amazing friends, and I remember how close we were. It makes me miss them, and wish that I had never let any distance develop between us. Though, it seems that it may be the natural way of things. Friends come and go. The relationships evolve and change. Sometimes they go away for good.
Some friends, though, are like the orange lilies. In the same way that the orange lilies return every June, my friends come back into my life, if only occasionally, and when they do, it’s as if they had never left.