Happy Holidays! It’s been awhile since I last posted, but I hope your holiday season has been a pleasant and enjoyable one, thus far. These past couple weeks have left me feeling nostalgic, given the arrival of old friends in the area for the holidays and past memories and sentiments starting to surface. From the latter portion of my middle school years through high school, I had a solid and defined group of best friends. It was always the 5 of us, with several of our other friends occasionally mixed in. It felt good to be apart of a close knit gathering of friends, people I could turn to in both the pleasant times and the less-fortunate occurrences, or so I thought at the time.
The holiday season for my friends and I always culminated at one of our house’s, where we would trade gifts and laughter, watching our favorite movies and eating all of “our” snacks (typically the much-loved Goldfish crackers, Oreo’s, Doritos, and a bunch of other packaged goods). Prior to our holiday gathering, my mom and I would scour the mall for what seemed like hours, trying to select the “perfect” gift for each of my friends without emptying our wallets. It was an annual shopping event I almost enjoyed as much as the actual holiday gathering. Often when we finished shopping, I would count down the minutes until I could finally present my friends with their gifts and cards, eager to show them how much they meant to me. To be honest, back then, I operated under the impression that we would all be best friends forever. I envisioned rooming with one of my friends in college, having wonderful adventures and escapades traveling through Europe and beyond. I believed all would work out and we would have a life filled with nothing but fun and excitement. Back then, it all seemed so simple and like a puzzle that could be easily solved with little difficulty.
My senior year of high school, or truly, the end of junior year, my friendships started to fall apart. Broken down by stress and my own self-defeating thoughts, my priorities and focus started to change. The same friends who I shared so many laughs, parties, and adventures with, began to fade from my life. Sometimes, it’s embarrassing for me to admit, given it’s been over 10 years at this point, but their absence still hurts. Given the outpouring of social media today, (in particular, Facebook), I will occasionally spot photos of them (the few who are still friends), planning their bridal showers and weddings, seeing their adult lives mold together. It’s hard to not search for myself in some of those photos, as I can easily step into my basement and retrieve scrapbooks created for me by two of those friends, showcasing all of our smiling faces huddled together. On occasion, I’ll even see one of my former friends in the area, in a store, and they will avert their eyes, pretending like we are two random souls simply shopping in the same store and maybe in a sense, that is what we are now. It’s often hard for me to reconnect to the teenager I once was, or truly believe it was me. Cognitively, I know it was me, but given all the life experiences since adolescence, it’s hard to establish that emotive connection to my former self.
In reading this, one might wonder, well, if I truly feel such sadness and remorse about these former friendships, then why not reach out? The simple answer is, I have. There have been through the years, many unsuccessful attempts via Facebook – messages that have been read, but ignored, and perhaps there is a reason for it. If they have moved on, then it is their prerogative to remain silent. That being said, we all make choices for whatever reasons we do. Sometimes, we make decisions/choices for self-protection, wanting to shield ourselves from future emotional and/or physical pain. Other times, we make choices or decisions because we truly feel it is what is best for us in that moment.
Given how much has changed in my life these past 10 years, it’s often difficult for me to even believe these friendships even existed and weren’t figments of my imagination. Though, I know, it is only steps to my basement where those scrapbooks sit, crafted for me by those very friends, holding all the memories and moments I once held so close to my heart. It is a part of my past and though it can be hard to reflect back on it, I’m still glad it happened.