Every now and then, I listen to the “Wear Sunscreen” CD my mother gave me a decade ago. It helps me put things in perspective. One of the phrases that always sticks with me is: “the older you get, the more you need the people who knew you when you were young”.
This makes perfect sense. I get a real kick out of talking with people who knew me “back then” when I was bolder and more adventurous, when I wore black nail varnish and dog collars and spent much energy on falling in love and writing poems about it.
And I’ve been very lucky in that sense. A lot of my close friends today are the same I went to school with. We’ve accomplished to stay in each other’s lives despite the fact that we’ve followed different paths, often in different countries. I’m deeply grateful for that.
But through the years, I had also lost contact with quiet a few others who had contributed in making me the person I am today. Enter Facebook. Thanks to which I’ll soon be going to my forth school reunion (I changed schools a couple of times). By now though, I am well prepared and know what to expect. I won’t even be contemplating going on a diet, buying new wrinkle cream or sweating over “what will they think of me?”. Because I know now that it won’t change a thing (and it’s too late anyway).
My very first school reunion made possible thanks to Facebook was with my old primary class. Most of us had not seen (or heard of) each other in over 25 years.
Actually getting an answer to the “I wonder what’s become of…” and seeing everyone again was an intense and strange experience. Of course people change physically over time and course, not all turn out the way you thought they would. But all in all, “the way we were”, in the group, with each other, doesn’t change that much. Old patterns and old roles stay and that’s unsettling. As is discovering how your former classmates remember you (rarely the way you’d want to be remembered!)
Memories are without a doubt the most surprising thing with these reunions. Friends you spent hours and hours with, in school and outside, remember things you don’t recall – and the other way round. It’s like you sometimes each lived in parallel worlds.
And then of course, there’s seeing the boys you were once so smitten with that you wanted to die, and actually being able to tell them. Except that they are now men, often married and don’t always look like your idea of super hunk anymore (though I must admit I had much better taste then than today!).
And when the evening is over and you’re all high on emotion and visions of your youth, you make the promises of “staying in touch this time”. You might not always follow up the way you think you’re going to, but it doesn’t really matter. You know now where they are, and thus, where some of you is. And that’s nice.