In 1987, I met a man who would become an important part of my life for the next ten years. He was my boyfriend's best friend at the time. We were never romantically involved. When I broke up with my boyfriend two years later, Larry was the only one of our mutual friends who stuck by me. Over time, he became my best friend.
And then life intruded. He became involved; I became involved. We tried to stay friends, but our other relationships just wouldn't allow us to even socialize. The last time I saw him was a chance encounter at Barnes & Noble in 1997. We went for coffee and spent the best 90 minutes just talking and being ourselves. That was the last time I ever saw him.
I tried to contact him about five years ago. I found a number online - and since he's the only Larry Lee Wheaton in the Flint area, I was pretty sure it was him. I called and got his wife. He was working second shift at the plant, wouldn't be home any time soon. After talking to his wife, I left my number and waited for him to call me back. He never did.
You know, I was thinking about it this morning and my friendships have pretty much been like that my entire life.
When I was four, my mother's best friend had a little girl my age. Her name was Carmen. We were friends until about second grade when her family moved away. They came back a couple years later, and I was so excited when I saw Carmen on the playground, I couldn't contain myself. Her? She didn't want to have anything to do with me. We eventually became friends again, but it wasn't the same.
In high school, I had the best friend ever. Margaret and I did everything together. We were so close we could almost finish each other's sentences. She was a year older, so she went off to college first. We wrote letters and talked on the phone, but it just wasn't the same. She had her life and I had mine. We were no longer a duo. Eventually, everything just drifted away.
Oh, I'm not foolish enough to think I could regain any of these relationships after all this time. By now we all have too little in common to support the depth of friendship we used to have. Larry's become someone I can't fuse with the memories of our late night philosophic rants. Carmen and I tried to rebuild a friendship as adults, but her life and mine had taken different paths. And Margaret... Last I heard, she was married with a passle of kids, living the Catholic dream in Wisconsin.
I'm reminded of a line I heard in a movie years ago: "You can never go back." It was said in a ghostly voice, and that's exactly how I hear it in my head. I know I can't go back--except in my memories--but that doesn't make me long for those people I once knew. I'm sure if I met Margaret today, the experience would be disappointing. I'm not the girl I was then, and neither is she. We can no longer laugh about our crushes on the members of Duran Duran, or quote songs at each other, or drool over the French foreign exchange student.
Life moves on. What they don't tell you is, it moves at different speeds and in different directions for each of us.
What about you? Do you still have friends from when you were younger? When you move on, how do you manage to keep those friendships? Anyone from your past you've been missing? If you could reconnect with someone you haven't seen in years, how do you think it would go?