The way things were

hands and clock face with Roman numerals

Do you ever have days where you long for the way things were? The closeness of friendships of the past. The freedom to spend time with your sweetheart snuggled up on the sofa without the nagging voice in your head reminding you that the dishes are waiting or that you only have a few hours before the children wake.
I don’t often miss things. I suppose that I keep myself distant enough from things and people that the sinking feeling of genuinely missing them is unusual. This morning I miss things: friendships drastically transformed, dreams re-prioritized, the way things were.
Lately, I have been reflecting on and sharing with others the complexity of relationships (for lack of better terminology). When we are adolescents, we form friendships that we are certain will be forever. “Best friends forever,” we say. Plans are made for the future: what college we will all attend, who will do which household tasks when we are roommates, how to build houses nearby each other so we can raise our kids together. Visions of dinner parties, game nights and vacations with our future spouses and offspring flash through our minds. It’s beautiful and joyous. We will, it seems, be this close forever: after all what could life possible throw at us that would separate us?
Through the turmoil of high school we laugh and cry together. Boyfriends come and go. Family members pass on and others arrive. We pass classes and fail tests. Each victory and defeat draw us closer still.
Life moves on and we realize some of our plans just aren’t going to work out so we adjust. No big deal, we’re still just a phone call away.
Then one day one of us reaches for the phone to make that call and wonders if it will be an inconvenience to the other. A few days later the other does the same, figuring that with her “BFF’s” busy life she probably has a lot on her plate. Each decides it better not to bother the other for such trivial problems or successes. After all it’s not *that* important.
Time marches on and each time you need a shoulder to cry on or a victory hug, you feel less and less the urge to reach out to your childhood friend. Until one day we simply realize that we never talk anymore and wonder what exactly has happened.
Finally someone makes that long overdue call.
For some friendships the road ahead is bumpy. We have changed so drastically yet subtilely that conversations are strained or at best just not as transparent as in days gone by. Other relationships, those few and glorious ones that truly do last through it all, will pick up exactly where they left off wondering why in the world it’s been so long since you called.
Maybe words were spoken carelessly and wounds formed. Maybe we simply became caught up in our daily lives.
No matter what, the fact remains that people are dynamic: changing a bit with each new interaction, finding new passions and growing melancholy with old ones. Relationships of all kinds either grow and change (some would say “mature”) or they remain the same and become stagnant as the friends and lovers move on down life’s road. As old relationships are transforming, new relationships are forming and beginning their journey down life’s road.
“What,” you may be asking, “does any of this have to do with photography?”
At first glance, nothing. On closer reflection, I realize that during this longing for the way things were rifling through a box of old photographs (and negatives) brought a complex swirl of emotions both joyous and downtrodden, but positive none the less. Positive because the nostalgia causes me to reflect on and be thankful for each of the relationships and the transformations.
Do I long for the way things were? Sometimes, but knowing that one day this will be “the way things were” makes me slow down and appreciate the way things are.

To each of my friends, old and new, I am ever thankful for you and the memories we share. Things to make me feel human and miss “the way things were.”

(I know some commas are missing and there are likely other errors. It’s quite difficult to proofread on an iPhone.)

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One thought on “The way things were

  1. This is all very true and sad really, how friends just grow apart. I used to say BFF too until recently I realised that there’s no such thing call Forever but I am thankful too to those who used to like me, love me and hate me.

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