then and now

I have been traveling, and will be again soon, but I wanted to touch base with the blog and share a small insight. In my recent trip back to the Maryland, Virginia, D.C. area I had the opportunity to reconnect with a number of long lost friends. Behold the power of Facebook in this ability to see those from the far flung recesses of the past. Scary, but amazing all the same.

At first, I was nervous at the prospect of seeing these individuals again. For one friend it had been about 16 or 17 years since our last meeting. That is half my life ago. How would I connect with someone who knew such an old version of me? I need not have worried. It was a warm and lovely reunion. My son and her daughter played together as we both sat on the couch and talked about what we had been doing for the last decade or so. There was something light and comfortable about the ease at which we picked up where we had left off. I was tempted to ask stupid questions, like “Do you still love I Love Lucy?” or her perhaps gauge her affection for Broadway musicals. Curiosity sparked in me a desire to know how she had evolved, changed. The truth is though, I got the sense that her essence was very much the same. There was something in that familiar smile and her laugh that left me reassured that the person I knew at the tender age of six still thrived, albeit in a more mature form now.

I realized, with a fair amount of bewilderment, as I drove away from her house in the Virginia mountains that we were both changed but still very much the same. I think this only is possible with someone with whom you are able to share your true self. Sure, she didn’t travel along the path with me as I went through a dark time, a difficult road. Maybe she sensed the imprint it left on me, but it is only a small part of the sphere of influences that have shaped me. And really, there is only so much shaping the world, other people or experiences can do — there is something innate, core to my being that remains untouched, unchanged and true to itself.

This rather simple idea was only reinforced with my next stop on the reunion tour. I had dinner with two women I had known in middle and high school. The one friend and I instantly reconnected, and the ease of slipping into each others lives felt sincere and important. With the other friend, I had a harder time engaging with on this level. I think we never really knew each other the same way, stripped away from all that other stuff that defines us. For a long time I felt like we had unresolved issues, a lack of closure on our friendship. Now, I realize that the friendship wore away because it lacked a firm foundation. I still value our time together, but I realize now that we were not meant for the long haul. It isn’t anyone’s fault. Life brings many people in and out of your sphere, and some will always have a place no matter how much time passes. This single idea makes me feel amazingly hopeful.

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