Monday, December 28, 2009

Sometimes the Past Is Just the Past

Photo: Luca Sehnsucht, Flickr Creative Commons

I apparently decided to take almost half a month off from my blog. No one bothered to tell me that I had made this decision. Honestly, I'm a little appalled at myself. I'll just blame Christmas. It's already responsible for a higher rate of suicide and domestic violence. It might as well be responsible for my laziness. My holiday did go pretty well though. E was thrilled with the entire experience. He cried for thirty minutes when K made me haul off the Christmas tree and dump it into the pond as fish habitat yesterday. He was thrilled with the train sets Santa brought him and I got a Blu Ray player and some much desired camping gear.

Something else that unexpectedly popped up was a childhood friend. Carl (not his real name) was my best friend from something like second grade until he moved with his mother to Florida at the end of fourth grade. My mom loved him. He was well-behaved, outgoing, and as willing to play with my younger sister as he was with me. I was crushed when he moved. I remember one time, probably during fifth grade, my mom told me his mom had called and said they would stop by and visit that day. I walked to the end of my driveway and waited for hours for them to arrive. They never did. After a while, I moved on and made new friends. I started to really be friends with Hank during fifth grade and most of the guys I still consider to be my friends from high school I met within two years of Carl's moving. I have no idea what I would have been like had Carl not moved. He didn't have much in common with my later childhood friends. We were all kind of dorky, the smart kids who read science fiction and fantasy and made good grades. I don't think that was Carl, the dorky part at least. I have no idea what kind of grades he made. He was the type who was destined to be more social, more popular than any of my friends ever were. Maybe if he'd stayed around, we would have remained fast friends and I may have been a little more normal.

But I doubt it. I really think that as my intellectual side awakened in middle school, I still would have been drawn to those same friends I ended up with. I may have remained friends with Carl. He really was a good person and may have stayed that way, but I doubt that we would have remained as close as we were before he moved. Kids change a lot between early childhood and the end of adolescence, and as I sat there on my parents' couch catching up with Carl and his wife, I was reminded of this part of human development. I realized that I don't remember a lot of what he was really like as a kid. My parents do, but my memory of him is really quite fuzzy. The adult version of the kid I knew was chatty, witty, and still outgoing, but I didn't feel any connection with him anymore. I was afraid this would happen. I'm not a great conversationalist. I was afraid if I met up with him on my own or just with K, the conversation would fall flat. To prevent this, I arranged for him to meet me at my parents' house where my dad, a chatterbox in his own right, could fill in the gaps. Besides, my parents loved Carl as much as I ever did. The result was a pretty good conversation. I got a good picture of Carl's life since we had parted ways about 20 years ago. He'd joined the military and had risen to the rank of Captain. He was a big hunter and they really enjoyed living in the Southwest. They were going to have a baby in the Spring and would be moving to Germany about the same time. Exciting life.

It was nice see what my childhood friend had turned into, but sometimes the past is just the past.


malfeasanceblog said...

How nice to catch up with your old friend, even if it wasn't an instant reconnection. I also often wonder how I'd be different if I'd had different friends growing up.

K made you get rid of the Christmas tree already? We didn't have one this year, but when we do, I usually keep it up for about a week after Christmas. I like to enjoy the season a little longer.

Jacob said...

K's mom is a touch ADHD and basically harassed her until she tore everything down just so she'd have something to do.

Julie said...

That's pretty cool. There are a few people I'd like to catch up with from the early years, but I doubt the image would match the reality. It would likely be an awkward conversation for most people. At this age, I don't want to ask how your barbies are doing and we didn't have much more in common than that. Good call having your parents there.

Cj said...

I'm really jealous that you met up with "Carl" I probably was just as crushed as you when he left. Fun to know he is still as friendly as he was when we were kids.

Chris said...

That's a fear of mine with a couple of old friends from high school that I'm half-heartedly trying to reconnect with. I think there might no longer be any real connection, and it would be a little disappointing.