You can always go home again…(From October Frederick New-Post Column)

They say you can never go home again. I don’t who “they” are, but I can prove them wrong.

I moved away from Frederick roughly sixteen years ago. With each trip back, I’ve seen so many changes, from the stores and restaurants on Market Street that have opened, to high schools likeLinganore that have been built from scratch to match the growing population, to the highways and exits that are growing and changing daily. On each trip, I’ve been amazed at the significant differences that are shaping this beautiful city. This city that I call home.

The term “coming home” has a different meaning for everyone. You come home to see your family, for the holidays, for a celebration or sometimes because you just have to. You reach out to friends from your past and spend time with family, sucking in their love and energy to help fill you up before you go back out into your own world. At least, that’s what I do.

My last two trips back home I’ve been more than blessed. In July, I was able to come home for my twentieth high school reunion. Seeing people I had not seen since I had graduated and spending time with friends old and new, we picked up like it was just yesterday. That showed me the power of friendship – and the internet!

Thanks to websites like Facebook, many of us have been able to watch the progress over the past few years of our classmates, see the families many of our friends have created now, as well as experiencing highs and lows together.

During my second trip, the one I am just returning from, more “reunion” stars aligned. Several folks I had worked with during my days on Market Street at Donnelly’s (pre-Firestone’s for those that don’t know) happened to come in for a visit as well. To say these two trips were mind-blowing is an understatement.

Change and growth are the two words I thought of when I sat with old friends over the last few months and caught up. Seeing how some had taken charge of their lives and are going on to create their place in the world was heart-warming. We shared our adventures; whether they were affairs of the heart (I had PLENTY of those!) or trips abroad, there was lots of catching up.

The common thread here? We were all home. Yes, we have places that we fly or drive back to where we have our residences or our families and pets…But to all of us? Frederick is home. We grew up here, physically, preparing to go out in the world to grow up mentally. Sitting with people that can say “we knew each other when” is the best feeling in the world. And to still be able to have common interest with them or to find yourself cheering along with them as they climb higher with their goals or take small steps in their own lives makes me happy. I guess it’s just the little things.

Yes, we can get together and laugh with our friends at ourselves. No matter who we are now and what we did then, we are remembered. We are loved and we can hold one another dear and close as long as we are able, or as long we’re supposed to. Good friends are truly hard to find, and I’m seeing that I’m surrounded by many good friends on both coasts.

I’d like to ban the phrase, “you can never go home again”. Because, I can. I can come home again and again. I’ll always find the love, friendship and strength that we all need at some point to fill our souls up to go out there and attack the world – or at least attempt our own mini-takeover.

So, my advice to the person that coined the phrase? Think of a new saying, because Anne Kemp has proven you wrong.



Abby and the Art of Online Dating, Part One

The rules are changing. Every day, they change more and more.

Abby came over for coffee this morning, thank goodness. I needed some inspiration. She reminded me we had talked about signing up for Match or one of the online dating websites at one time, but alas, Abby is the only one out of the two of us to cross the finish line on said task.

As we sat at on my deck, enjoying coffee, Mother Nature and the delightful sound of my neighbor’s smokers cough, Abby relayed to me her dismay at what she had found online thus far.

There were the usual guys that just weren’t reading her profile, a common irritation among a lot of women I have spoken with. Abby said she had specifically chosen a certain age range, and was surprised how many people didn’t pay attention to what she really wanted. “If I can’t ask for exactly what I want when I’m the one that’s paying for it, what good does it do me?” Point taken, dear Abs. “Not to mention, someone close to my dad’s age does not do it for me.” Fair enough.

Then there were the ones that were just kind of, well, gross. “One guy emailed me to say ‘I bet there’s a nice rack hidden in that picture of yours’.  I had to alert the online people so they’d take him off.” Ok, really? Let’s see, a REALLY good opening line, and I’m reaching here….”How are you?” seems to work for a lot of people. Just my opinion, but it usually does the trick.

Abby was also irritated with the pictures some of the men had put up on this particular website. “Half of them are taken so far away you don’t get a good idea of what they look like!” And of course, not wanting to be a jerk and send an email requesting a better shot, she would just shrug her shoulders and not respond. “I’ve heard too many horror stories about someone showing up to a date and not looking like their picture.” I had to agree. As someone that had dabbled in online dating at one time as well, I did sit through a date or two that were very similar. One guy showed up for our coffee date and was about three inches shorter than he had said he was in his profile, and looked NOTHING like his photos he had posted.

The list just went on from there. Spelling errors, or the way they signed their name in an email to her (“I mean – eDMONd – REALLY?!?!? He’s a grown man, he can’t sign it normal?) to the ones that said they wanted to call her so they could chat with my dear Abby, but then just texted her instead. (Funny enough, one guy never even called her. Just texted her saying that he wanted to call her. Twice. Then he never followed through…Huh? Insert head scratch moment here.). Abby was sitting in front of me gripping my Harry Potter coffee mug (don’t judge me) tightly, and looking for answers that I’m not sure I have.

I could say a million silly girl things to make her feel better, but what does it do for us in the end? I wish I could say to her or anyone else that was out there putting their hearts on the line that’s it’s easy or you’re gonna find someone in no time flat, or when you click your heels, they’ll show up in front of you, right as you ordered ‘em. But I’d be a liar. Not in a cynical way, but because no one knows what it is the heart wants or how it works. No one.

I feel like it comes down to honest chemistry. Is it hard today for people to get in front of one another? Yes – especially in a world where texting and instant messaging comes before picking up the phone. Recently there was a “No Technology Tuesday” here in LA. Not sure how many people actually did it, but I gave it an effort for the day. Did better than I thought I would. I feel likes it’s something that could be missing from the world of dating. Chemistry is something you can only feel out when you’re standing in front of someone.

Another thing I told Abby, is that it always boils down to love – honest and pure love. Love for yourself. It’s true what they say that you really can’t love anyone until you’re happy with yourself (This elicited an eye-roll from Abby, who promptly told me she loved herself just plenty).

In the end, I decided to just toss it up to the fact that dating is a numbers game, comparing it to kissing a frog to get your prince. I really think it’s true that you just have to keep going out there and trying – keep kissing the frogs (this is for the men and the women!). Dating isn’t the same it was a few years ago, nevermind it being the same as it was a year ago – and  the rules are constantly changing.

You just gotta bend with the rules so you don’t get left behind – and do me a favor? Keep your sense of humor in the process.

I know Abby will…