At the mall one fine afternoon, I came across my childhood friend who I hadn’t seen for quite a long time. He was quick to recognize me and did it with a rousing bear hug “Heyyy, pumpkin, great to see you!!” Ugh! He still calls me that. Seeing my grimace he laughed “You’ll always be pumpkin to me. Btw, meet my wife, Liza”. I shrieked with surprise and delight when I saw her as she came walking towards us – Liza, my pal in school! We were buddies in our last year. “So this is why you hadn’t been in touch all these years!” She laughed heartily showing her familiar dimples. “We moved to San Francisco after the wedding. I didn’t know where to write you then because you were nowhere to be found, silly!” “Yeah, I got busy with a job in the big city.” I replied. We then moved to a coffee shop nearby and continued with our endless chatter and updates. Time flew until Martin reluctantly and halfheartedly broke off the chat (which we girls undoubtedly monopolized) and reminded Liza that they had yet to shop for a birthday gift for his mom. So we parted ways but agreed to meet for dinner at their place the following week.
Looking at them as they walked to the parking lot, I felt a sudden twinge of sadness. They have remained the same, true; and yet have changed too in some. I remembered something I have read before—“We do not grow absolutely, chronologically. We grow sometimes in one dimension; and not in another; unevenly. We grow partially. We are relative. We are mature in one realm; childish in another. The past, present, and future mingle and pull us backward, forward, or fix us in the present. We are made up of layers, cells, constellations.” That quote brought me to this new understanding. Truly, we change unevenly, partially, in layers. We may be brilliant to one and childish to another person all in the same breath. We may be the cherished pumpkin of the past and yet also the modern career person of the present. A friend may tell me that I have changed in my perceptions about love and money. While another friend would tell me that I am still the homespun girl he always had known me to be. And it is true for I have indeed changed from some old held viewpoints of long ago. But have retained and treasured the same homespun values my mother has taught me when I was young. On that thought, I realized that we don’t really leave the past behind even if change moves us along in time. We take it with us to the present and on to the future. This is what people see in us mixed and mingled as change does its work in bits, portions, areas, and layers of ourselves.
So as I stood there watching Martin and Liza pull away in their Chevy, I smiled to myself and bid goodbye to the sadness felt earlier. Nothing has been lost after all. More mature and changed in some ways as they appear to be now, still Martin and Liza carry with them the traces of good old friendships of long ago. We stand connected despite change. Amazing and beautiful, isn’t it?
posted on Tuesday, February 21, 2006 2:29 PM