There’s something about approaching your 30th birthday that makes you think about the past.
Maybe it’s the knowledge that a decade of your life is soon being left or the idea that you’re approaching the age where you’re supposed to have it all figured out. Maybe it’s just because in your teens, 30 seemed so old.
But with my 30th birthday looming at the end of this year, I can’t help but think about how much time has gone by and how many moments I’ve experienced. I can’t help but feel a little nostalgic for those high school days I was in such a rush to leave behind. I can’t help but think about how long it’s been since I’ve seen some of the people who were so important to me.
Today, I thought about some long-forgotten moments and some faces I haven’t seen in years. I thought about the group of friends I grew up with, I shared fun times with, and I eventually lost touch with.
It made me a little sad to think about all those names and faces I no longer consider a part of my life.
I remember being a senior in high school and having everyone tell me to enjoy the last months because soon, my friends would be gone and we’d lose touch. I thought everyone was crazy. That could never happen to us. We were such a close-knit group. We wouldn’t let that happen.
We were haughty then, but who could blame us? We were just typical teenagers who thought the friendship necklaces would last forever and that our scrapbooks of memories would endlessly expand. We thought the sleepovers and the parties and the late-night gossip sessions would go on because how could they not? We didn’t realize real life, college, and our individual dreams would sever our links to each other.
It didn’t happen all at once. The change was methodically slow to the point we didn’t realize what happened until it was too late. The phone calls and text messages lessened, and the broken dinner date promises were left go. We found new friends we trusted more and spent more time with.
Suddenly, one day, it felt weird to e-mail or to call. Suddenly, we realized we didn’t know what to say anymore, that we didn’t know what made each other laugh or if having a sleepover was too immature now.
Suddenly, we realized we weren’t in each others’ lives anymore.
It’s been years since I’ve talked to many of you, the faces from my high school years. Still, I can’t help but think about how your faces are all carved into my memories. It just takes a song or a phrase to send me flying back to those days that were both simple and complex.
I think about swimming in the pool talking to you about what a first kiss would be like. I think about all of the crazy hairstyles we thought were just fabulous or making prank phone calls like pros. I think about the Chinese food and sappy romance movies we would watch or the way we’d stay up all night dancing in the finished basements of your houses. I think about the trips to the mall ravaging clearance racks and going to the movies during the discount times. I think about all of the instant messaging and phone calls. I think about the prom pictures and junior high dances. I think about it all.
I wonder where some of you are now, if you ever think about all those moments, too. I wonder if, sometimes, you think about what we all had together, our group of friends, and what we’ve let go.
Because I think the thing we didn’t realize is that the link that held us together connected us to ourselves, too. It was a link to our past and to the years that shaped us.
Sometimes we like to tell ourselves that high school was the worst part of our lives or that it didn’t matter. In some ways, that might be correct. However, I think those days, those friendships, those connections grounded us in who we would become.
In many ways, I don’t know that girl I was in high school. I’ve lost the fiery passion for the future and the excitement for the unknown path I would travel because, in many ways, I’ve already found the path. I’ve seen what it holds. I’ve lost the naïve belief that the real world is perfect and rosy because, I’ve learned as so many of us do, that it is far from perfect. I miss those easier times that we thought were so, so hard.
Still, today, thinking of all of you, of all the memories I now treasure, I’ve realized that all is not lost. The times we had, the photos I have, they are all connections to you and to who I was. They are reminders of a time when life was a little less gritty and raw. They are reminders of the dreamer I was and the connections we had.
So, wherever you are, I hope you are doing well. I hope you are finding this life to be all that you hoped for. Most of all, I hope that you haven’t forgotten the moments we shared together.
I hope that, in some distant time, if we run across each other, you will smile and say “hello,” knowing that the link that is tarnished isn’t completely gone.
Because the thing about true friendship is that the link can never truly be gone, no matter how much time goes by.
Lindsay Detwiler is a high school English teacher and a contemporary romance author with Hot Tree Publishing. Learn more about her seven published novels at www.lindsaydetwiler.com