Nestled in the corner of my cluttered basement, sitting on a pile of old books, magazines and scrapbooking supplies, I am momentarily distracted from cleaning my basement by a stack of old high school yearbooks. And by old I mean not old at all. Because clearly 1994 was just a few years ago if the Jennifer Aniston hairstyle is still popular and Pearl Jam is still relevant. In fact, I blame all time distortion on the fact that Pearl Jam won’t stop being cool and at some point when they stop being awesome, it will no longer be the 90’s. Until then, I graduated high school a few years ago.
Flipping the glossy black and white pages of my yearbook, rereading the love notes, the pages upon pages written to me by the most special people of my life at that time. I remember how much they meant to me, how I couldn’t imagine living without them. Every memory catching my breath with a wave of nostalgia and longing. Feeling them for the first and the thousandth time, pangs get caught in my chest. That could also be heartburn, something fun and new that started happening at age 39.
“I will never forget you.”
“Have a great summer!”
I did have a great summer. I’ve actually had 20 great summers, three kids, twelve career changes, a husband, a home and a goldfish. His name is Tiger and he’s pretty sweet.
But you already know all this about me because even though we haven’t seen each other since high school, we’re Facebook friends. We have reconnected in a way our parents’ generation never did. And for better or for worse, we have been able to never forget each other.
I see all your mobile uploads and get a kick at how much your kids look like you. Sometimes I even jokingly comment about your son having your temper on the basketball court and remind you of the trouble we’re in if our daughters act anything like we did at that age. We follow each other on Instagram and I know that your favorite coffee mug is blue and I know you love flower gardens and traveling. Your dog just died. You moved across the country for a new job. Your father has cancer. I know so much about you.
I re-Pin your delicious summer salad recipes and think back to that time we almost blew up your mom’s kitchen. Luckily she was super cool about it and now that I have teenagers of my own, I understand why she always had a bottle of wine on the counter. I totally dig your Pinterest craft boards and buried deeply in the bottom of an old box somewhere in my basement, are the yellowed origami paper fortune tellers we passed in Freshman English. I read your daily exercise updates and by liking your status, I cheer for you behind my computer screen. You actually cheered for me on the soccer field.
I feel like I’ve known you forever.
I have known you forever.
The you I truly know is 20 years younger, has bad hair and can correctly graph polynomials. The you I truly know is living an emotionally turbulent life and the only person who really understands you is Wilson Phillips and Pop Tarts. The you I truly know is confidently going out into the world with big ideas, all the answers and not a clue.
The me you truly know also has horrendous hair (but to be fair, it’s because I let you cut it). The me you truly know was never good at math but together we owned the clarinet section of the band like bosses. The me you truly know stayed up all night, hugging you as you cried over the one true lost love of your life (but helped you find a new boyfriend the next day). The me you truly know sees you every morning in the hall and has something to tell you.
And here we are 20 years later, still meeting up to tell each other things.
Except now we talk about children, new jobs, we’ve had our multivitamin, eaten a sensible breakfast and also we’re not still wearing acid-washed button-fly Levi’s. I take that back. I’m actually wearing them right now.
And every day we truly know so much about one another, without truly knowing one another. And as the world gets smaller and we stay constantly connected to people who would have otherwise drifted off in the direction of their own lives, we continue to hold on to these past relationships. Maybe they remind us of who we used to be, what we did and where we came from. Or maybe the connections we had 20 years ago were built on such important moments that we really won’t ever forget each other. Or maybe, it’s just Facebook and we should it enjoy it for what it is.
Either way, I really do hope you have a good summer and that this is the year you finally get your driver’s license. Also, tell your hot older brother I said hi.