The return of O’Kelley

There’s something very refreshing in reconnecting with an old friend. It’s part nostalgia and part pure unadulterated joy. It’s the feeling that a person gets when they’ve just found a box of old pictures that they thought they’d lost; part of them wants to probe every nook in search for what used to be, while the other part seems content to just live in the moment, to appreciate the fact that a good friend has returned.

What makes it more special, I think, is that I’ve reconnected with a friend who had disappeared completely – wiped off the face of this country – and had settled down on another continent and made it his home.

Nick left for Ireland, chasing after a prospective partner, and left us all in various states of either indignation or surprise. Some of us never thought he’d make it – that he was being reckless, unrealistic, etc. Others embraced the fact that he was searching for an elusive place. Any disappointment was because he had left – because he had left us, more like it.

Personally, I was jealous. I, among others, wondered how he could dare just up and leave like that, with little to no plan. I didn’t think he’d last, but I never really knew why he left. For a while, I never bothered to discover why. I just sat indignant and envious.

When I finally got over myself, I knew that he was meant to be there, and that I had no place or reason to doubt any differently.

The power of love and the pull of a relationship can take a person to places they’ve never dreamed of. I was pulled to St. Cloud, Minnesota. Nick just happened to go to Ireland. He’s over there living out my dream of being an American ex-pat with the ability to live life with a different set of values.

I know that I would never make that leap. My place isn’t meant to be anywhere else but right here in South Dakota. I don’t have any divine intervention guiding me to any remote part of the world. I’ve found my stomping grounds and have claimed stake in Sioux Falls. I know for a lot of my friends, that isn’t the case. They’ve been champing at the bit to get out of here for years, but haven’t made the move. Nick made the move and took it to the extreme. I, for one, think it’s great.

In talking with Nick last night, I found that we’ve never had any problems picking up where we left off. We’ve always been incredibly verbal with each other, and we’ve confided in each other more than I’d ever have thought we would. Instead of jealousy, I find pride. I’m proud when my friends go of and do something with themselves. I’m proud of Nick for making a daring move and ending up in another country. I’m proud of him for having the balls to say that Ireland is now his home.

He gets lonely. But so do I. So does everyone. Even amidst a sea of friends I can feel completely out of place. It’s not easy to insert yourself into a new group of people, in a new country, with a similar but different language and similar but different beliefs. All we can do is let those people know that, regardless of where they are, we’re still with them.

For Nick, I’ll say I’m always here. I’ll always be a few hours behind, but I’m always here.

Mail me some fish and chips, Nick. I’d appreciate it.

This was lovingly handwritten on June 24th, 2005