I’ve been thinking about high school lately, which is a stupid and pointless thing to do considering I mostly hated the time I spent during those four years. Whenever I was in that concrete slab building I felt meek, scared of people looking at me, afraid of them judging me for something I was unknowingly doing wrong and outside the status-quo. I never felt smart enough. I was just starting to grapple with the fact that I was gay. I didn’t know who I was yet and the process of getting there was slightly agonizing. It was exhausting trying to hide it my discomfort with myself, trying to act like I just didn’t care at all.
But the one high point of those years, the that thing got me through all of the awkwardness and wanting to somehow crawl outside of my own skin, were my friends. They were an anchor for me in the best possible way, something which kept me rooted and happy and sane. They were the one thing about that time in my life I never realized I would one day miss so damn much.
Unfortunately, the friendships of our adolescence aren’t always forever. People change. Goals are made and worked towards. We leave home and grow up.
So it’s not surprising that one day I woke up and realized those friends I had once depended on in such a real way were gone.
And just because people drift doesn’t mean they can’t ever meet in the middle again, that good things can’t trickle back to you. In my case, it happened after nearly ten years. After college and jobs-turned-careers. After relationships and breakups and rekindled affairs. After moving out and growing up and moving on. After all that, miraculously, some of us managed to find each other again.
But of course, it can’t ever be the same as it was. You can’t ever really go home again. We aren’t sixteen anymore. Our lives don’t revolve around each other and haven’t for quite some time. We’ve morphed into more evolved versions of ourselves, no longer as raw and open and maybe not as honest. The world has taught us how we should behave, has molded us into the world of adulthood.
We’ve taken the cues, embraced them to build a life our old teachers would be proud of, ones we even secretly hope our parents will approve.
The days of us huddled in various basements, listening to music, fighting and laughing, hanging around playgrounds after the dark, watching the sunrise on the bleachers in the park, they’re over. Now it’s after-work dinners. Now it’s cocktails and coffee shops, conversations of day jobs and rent-controlled apartments.
And that’s okay.
Time keeps moving, regardless of if you’re ready for your life to keep passing or not. Adulthood, growing up, it happens regardless and in spite. People grow, spaces elongates. That’s the way things need to be.
But what I’ve also learned is that the ones who make a mark on you have their own way of coming back. It won’t even be the same as it was, we can’t repeat the past, but we can have those people be apart of our new lives, in a new role.
We can hold them in our periphery. We can look at those very important people and let them back in, even if it may be in a lesser capacity than what they held before. We can take some stitches from old friends and mend them into our present.
I’m still so grateful for those friendships that existed during my teenage years, the ones that taught me what true bond meant. I’m grateful even for the ones who still remain absent, the ones I will never reconnect with. They were still important. They still filled something inside of me that I needed at the time.
I’m finally at the point where I can allow myself to feel lucky for what I was able to hold in my hands, rather than what eventually slipped away from me. I’ve learned that some things fade. But some also reappear. And for that fact I am so incredibly grateful.