It has been 25 years since I walked across a platform in June and stepped out into a bigger world. There has been many a mile and more than a few adventures between then and now. Though some of it seems like yesterday, many of those memories are worn and faded, old Polaroids with a ghostly white film blurring the scene. Somewhere in a closet, crammed into the bottom of a drawer, I have little captured moments of times and days gone by, of younger, less-weathered people. Those moments are what makes us us. They are nice to look at some times in order to remember but I do not wish to revisit them.
Recently I received an invitation to attend a reunion to recount those glorious days of my youth and to mingle once again with children from classrooms past all grown up. It was not an avenue I wished to cruise along and so I quietly passed on the event. The faces now are that of strangers. Too many years and too miles have come and gone. There are worlds and families and experiences between the two dates. Whole lives have been born and lived and lost between then and now. A person can not recount a life inside of one night and I did not wish to try. I am not one for hugs and handshakes and rooms filled with pretend smiles (really I'm not one for rooms filled, period).
A long time ago I once wrote "remember when we were all friends" and it still stands true today. We come into our lives as babies filled with wonder and awe. We are let loose into the world as not much more than toddlers to attend school and meet the first people outside of our families. In this new world we form our first real friendships and watch each other grow. The process of learning to navigate this complicated world of friends continues through until puberty and hormones and competition and stress and all the wonderful things brought on by teenage angst begin to set in. The mean things, the selfish things, the only things inside our own individual bubbles are what matters. Somewhere, in those days, in those actions, we stopped being the same friends from the playground. We were teenagers and knew it all and refused to step back to see what a small picture we were in the collage of life. In the end, we make choices to stay in touch with who we think we would like to and then we head out across the platform into a bigger world but we are not all friends any longer.
Looking out a frost-covered window at the snow glistening in the moonlight, I was asked by the planner of the reunion about attending. I simply replied to her that I would gladly go to dinner with her and her husband (both faces from playgrounds past) and talk of our paths to this place but that I had no intention of visiting with a group of strangers, to drink and tell lies and play pretend. There are those that I think of from time to time and hope they are doing well and there are those that I truly am proud to have been a part of their lives. Most know who they are. We may not talk as often as we like but we pick up where we left off without a hitch whenever we get together no matter the time between.
Each of these people and the moments we shared are bricks in the foundation of my life. Some are cornerstones, important pieces, others just bricks, and some are the mortar that hold it all together. Throughout the years the foundation grows into a building, a home, a family, and a life. I take care of the solid cornerstones. I discard the broken bricks and replace them with new ones. And I repair the cracked ones, giving them the care they need from time to time. And the truly special ones reside beside my fireplace so that we may always have a warm place to sit and talk and remember.