Partial Metaphorical Time Machines

Yesterday I got to hang out with an old friend of mine from middle school/junior high/high school. Her family moved away in the middle of junior year and we went to college in different states, so we haven’t spoken in years. But now we’re both in New York and have the chance to see each other again.

There was something surreal about seeing an old friend like that. There was the usual catching up, and some discussion of “remember so-and-so” and “where are they now? do either of us know?” But it was also sort of like looking through a time machine.

There were a few moments where I would mention a memory and she would laugh, taken aback by the fact that I was referencing something so far removed from her current life that it reminded her of how old our friendship really was. There were times when I would apologize in a self-deprecating way about something like my TV obsession and she would shrug it off, saying she already knew, which reminded me of all the ways I actually have not changed since my childhood. 

It was a weird reminder to both of us that we’re a lot older than we think we are. 

Looking back on the last few years, I feel like who I am has changed immensely. I like to say that now I am a fully-formed person, when before I was still in flux. People change all throughout their teen years (people change throughout their lives, but teen years especially), though personally I feel like I’ve changed the most, or at least have learned the most about myself, in college. So hanging out with a person who missed those years and remembers the me that existed 6 years ago was interesting. It’s hard for me to even imagine how she would see me now, looking at the image I present as the 22-year-old post-grad me mixed with her years of memories. It’s the same thing I go through when I look at her, trying to bridge that gap and see the person I knew while still appreciating who I’m meeting now.

It’s odd to think about how people change, how our relationships change, especially when thrown into stark view like this. Luckily the two of us still seem to get along well, but we spoke of other people (lots of people) that we’ve fallen out of touch with for various reasons. 

We had many moments of “remember so-and-so?” “I actually forgot that was a person that exists!” (my exact words for one girl…). As a high schooler I felt so grown up, as if I had lived so long. It’s a common ailment for teens. But looking back there are all of these people that have faded into the background of my life, and moments that were insignificant, things that only come up in conversation with an old friend when it’s 1 in the morning and we’re eating chicken from the corner fast food place and trying to stop her cat from eating off our plates. These things had an impact on my life, sure, but a fleeting one. The kind of transience that can only be really understood in hindsight. 

It also makes me wonder what this time of my life will seem like in a decade when I’m reminiscing with a friend, catching up and talking about how’s married, who has kids, and whatever weird technology will have popped up by that point. 

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