I've been having a little conversation with an old friend on Facebook, following a post of mine about how wonderful the Artist was. She mentioned that, as the last book series I recommended was one she ended up loving, she would definitely go and see this. And it has brought back a flood of memories. J was always an enigma; smart, funny, full of poise, with the loveliest of smiles and a nature to match. And we got on, which, somehow over the years I had forgotten. She mentioned a while ago that she still had the copy of the Hobbit I had bought her for her eighteenth birthday. That was amazing, and touching; that she had remembered, and that she still had it.
Anyway, I was flicking through her facebook page with the intent of messaging her to ask to catch up one day when I glanced down her friends list. So many of them I knew. So many of them were close, good friends. Like J I haven't seen any of them in more years than I care to remember.
They are all older. They have families, children, other halves, lives, jobs, houses. They have accumulated twenty years of history in the time since I knew them. Twenty years.
So much has happened to me in that time. So much hasn't. So much has for them. They are the people I knew, and loved, and cared for... and yet they aren't.
Am I who I was back then? Yes and no. Are they? Yes and no.
The same and yet different. I'd like to meet up with her, and one or two of the others. To reminisce. To remember. To find out more; more about them, who they have become, what changed them, what their dreams are, where their hopes lie. I want to know about the them of the now, and reconcile that to the them of the past.
It is weird. I feel like the black sheep of that particular family, off on my own tangent. I don't have a family, there are no children for me. I never married, I have no intention to. I don't own my own home, my own business, my own dog (I have cats). I feel like there is this massive gulf between us. A gulf that existed back then now amplified by twenty years of disparate history. A gulf of my own making perhaps.
Looking back, the sliver that was our shared history seems thin and fragile, not deep enough to anchor us in the now, to bridge that gulf.
But perhaps it doesn't matter. Perhaps all that matters is the memory of birthday presents, laughter and friendship. Perhaps what matters isn't what has changed, but what was; all those bright, clever eighteen year olds about to embark on their divergent histories.
Perhaps new histories can be built from the memories of the past; over a cup of coffee, cake, a simple chat. Perhaps that is all it takes.
I hope so.