Every birthday I tend to receive well wishes from a few friends I’ve lost contact with over the years. Recently, an elementary school friend reached out to me. I responded and we began a conversation that made me regret not maintaining our friendship. Trisha and I had met in grade 1 and been thick as thieves until our tween years. When my family moved away, we’d maintained sporadic contact but most recently, we’d gone ten years without speaking. Surely, her and I could disprove Robert Frost by demonstrating the staying power of our golden union. With my leave from work, I figured I’d use my free time to resurrect our former friendship.
Our polite email exchange culminated in an afternoon date at a dimly lit coffee shop. I dressed casually and rushed over when I spotted her seated at a table in the corner. We hugged and exchanged pleasantries, and I asked what she’d been up to. She jumped right into the details, telling me about her abusive ex-boyfriend / children’s father and how they’d broken up when his devotion to alcoholism trumped his family. She’d noticed the signs since her mother has been a lifelong alcoholic. Her sister had had similar man problems, bearing 4 kids with 3 fathers. Her current relationship has been her longest yet, probably because her suitor has been incarcerated for the past 7 years and only sees her for conjugal visits. When I asked what he had done, she sheepishly replied that he’d shot someone, who’d later died (aka MURDER). Her brother was doing well these days, having kicked his crack habit. A friend had crashed her car whilst driving without a license, another friend’s crazy GF is harassing her on Facebook, etc, etc, etc… This went on for two straight hours. I could hardly keep the story straight because it was so convoluted with all of the boyfriends, lovers, illegitimate children, stepparents, and accompanying drama. I coyly mumbled words of affirmation or incredulity throughout, glancing around to see if any eavesdroppers were as offended as I by her liberal use of the f-word.
After we’d parted ways, the glum realization set in that there would not be any future coffee dates with Trisha. Somewhere along the way, she and I had outgrown each other. But perhaps that’s how things are supposed to be. I certainly don’t read the books I read in elementary school or wear the same clothes I wore in middle school. Why would I expect a friendship that began when I was 6 or the career path that I chose at 18 to be relevant today. Yet, so many of our bad decisions stem from inertia. We keep toxic friends, remain in unfulfilling relationships, hold onto losing investments and maintain habits that keep us trapped and miserable. By pointedly asking myself “knowing what I know now, would I choose this person as a friend / take this job / buy this investment / commit to this relationship?”, I can shed light on the path that fits.
Even more importantly, the company that I keep and vocation that I choose today will shape the future me. I definitely don’t want to feel like I’ve wasted away the years with nothing to show for them. I want to take chances, travel the world, live wholeheartedly, embrace the future and find everlasting love. I want to dye my hair every color of the rainbow, I want to swim in every ocean, I want to step foot on every continent, I want to connect with the world and live life in a real and genuine way.