Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow
December 8, 2011 - Daniel's "GoodBye" Party
Six Degrees of Separation
While in SE Kansas, I’ve been fortunate to meet some really wonderful, quality people.
One of these; one of my very favorites; is Daniel. Daniel moved here approximately 2 years after I did, from St. Louis via S. California. He had several careers; all of which were fulfilling and successful. When I met Daniel, he had just been appointed President of the local community college which is a 2 year educational facility.
It is said that everyone is separated no more than 6 degrees from anyone else, anywhere in the world. Kevin Bacon brought this to our attention. And, guess what! It’s true…at least; it is certainly true in my life.
Case in point: my former renters who lived in the main home in Napa and remained for 4 ½ years were directly related, through her acting career, to Kevin Bacon. She starred with him in Tremors and Tremors II. Then, years later, through a mutual acquaintance, she was introduced to me and became my renter. Less than 6 degrees, actually!
Present thinking, as calculated by a respected “think tank,” has lessened the degrees of separation to 5. ? (something…)..less than the original 6 degrees. According to FaceBook, which has succeeded in bringing so many disparite personalities together from all points; all walks of life and all areas on the globe; the degree of separation is now believed to be 4.74
Well, I can qualify that the distance is, indeed, lessening.
My very dear friend, Sherrell, whom I met through another woman when I first settled in Kansas, owned a beautiful Tudor home; constructed of red brick on the exterior and beautifully appointed inside. She considered herself a designer (which, of course, she was), and her decorative touches added so much to the fine home. High ceilings, crown molding, antique stairway, crystal knobs set in bronze plates, beveled mirrors and fine tile work in the bathrooms added to the exquisite character of her home.
Only months after we met; for personal reasons having to do with the life threatening medical situation concerning her daughter; Sherrell had to leave SE Kansas. She placed her home on the market - during the height of the real estate boom - and in no time at all; she had a buyer. Sherrell moved to Houston to be with her family. Shortly, the new owner of her lovely home moved in.
Every summer during the celebration of the birth of our nation, the city of Independence hosts a week long non stop wild and wacky explosive party. During this time, homeowners, business owners, sports teams in their fields of dreams and others shoot off locally purchased fireworks with abandon. There are no restrictions and no limits. I've never seen anything like it. The city itself, through donations given year long as well as city coffers dedicated to the festivities, treats citizens and visitors alike to an amazing display of color, movement and sound. Everyone gathers in their yards, local eateries and the city park to view the spectacular light show. Along with these offerings are individual homeowners who host their own parties. Derrill, another great friend, has an annual event to which he invites half the town.
July 4th of 2008, Daniel arrived at Derrill's annual, huge, celebration that is an endemic part of Independence, Kansas. Being aptly named; this city lives up to every preconceived notion of what “Independence” means in this country. Locals carry the theme to the extreme!
Having just been appointed as President of the college; it was only natural that Daniel be included in Derrill’s event.
Introductions were done and, happily I found myself sitting very near Daniel while we watched the fireworks blasting in the sky.
Now, unlike most places I’ve lived during my life, this area allows just about any and all expressions of patriotic demonstration. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing and hearing the first time in 2007 and, to this date; it is pretty unbelievable.
Individuals, home owners, businesses, the City itself as well as sports clubs in their fields of dreams; ALL shoot off fire works on the 4th . Not only that; this city allows people to fire off crackers on their lawns, in the street and parks and anywhere one wishes. All night long, flashing, colorful displays of light amidst loud BOOMS and BANGS resound. It’s crazy!!!
Each year, as we depart Derrill’s house at around midnight, flaming rockets shoot across our path, right down the middle of the street or arcing high up and, then straight down to the center line. It’s like being in the middle of a war zone. One must be extremely careful while driving in Independence, Kansas on the 4th of July.
So, each year, the mutually owned huge grassy area which is the back yard of Derrill’s home and that of about 7 others, is aflame with ignited combustibles exploding in the night.
There, with my second drink in hand, along with dozens of others, we sat in our lawn chairs after a fabulous outdoor dinner, watching the entire place go wild.
Daniel and I struck up a conversation and, during this; I was, once again, reminded of the SIX degrees of separation.
This time, as with my other situation; the nearness of connected yet unfamiliar persons, became clear.
Daniel had bought Sherrel’s home!
As he described the location and attributes of his beloved new house, it became easy to see that he had, indeed, become the new owner of the gorgeous Tudor home once owned by my dear friend.
I told him my story of friendship with Sherrell and this kicked off the best friendship I’ve been lucky to share here in SE Kansas.
Daniel had lived in California for years, trying all kinds of entrepreneurial exercises including catering, teaching, management in the educational field and more. I could relate to his take on life as it was how I’d also approached my employment career history. We both loved cooking, California and classical music.
Long story short; Daniel and I became fast friends with a relationship which has thrived over the three years he lived here.
Sadly, due to circumstances beyond his control; Daniel found that he had to leave SE Kansas for another state, altogether….Alabama!
So, last night we had a “Good-Bye” party for Daniel. It was great. Most of the gang was there to wish him well. It felt like ‘the good ole days,‘ when we all gathered at Uncle Jack’s restaurant every Friday night to enjoy great company and wonderful cuisine.
As with all things; things change. Uncle Jack’s is no longer open, and many of us have gone our own way. I don’t know if I will, truly, ever see some of these friends again…only time will tell. Though I think of her often; Sherrell and I are not in contact as much as we were when she first departed. Life, being as it tends to be; I expect with time, we’ll lose touch and continue on our separate paths.
I won’t lose touch with Daniel, though. Ours is a particularly close and empathetic bond. He, Al and I had met several times over the last week for dinner and conversation; at the local Library and also talked endlessly on the phone. Loosing Daniel is a sad event but, amazingly; his departure parallels mine as I will be returning to California, permanently, in the next several months. So, we’re both exiting the Bible Belt at approximately the same time.
Incredible coincidental life paths!
Six degrees of separation…Sherrell - Daniel - Me. Crazy, huh?