It used to be the American norm that high school reunions happen every 10 years. That wasn't the case for me. I was lucky. To this day, I still get together with some of my high school chums to drink our post-recession sorrows and relationship troubles away. Of course, some of us did move away from Southern California, so we would organize an annual road trip up north to San Francisco or a plane ride to the East Coast.
But inevitably, all happy hours must come to end and I found our reunions to be happening less and less. Life gets in the way, and we soon find ourselves too busy to do anything. In the process we started wondering, “Whatever happened to that person?”
In this day and age, we've learned to compensate. Who needs a high school reunion when you can just check Facebook? Click, click, done. Now I know what’s happening in your life.
Still, how many of our Facebook friends do we actually hang out with outside our computer-dominated world of mobile texts and chat rooms? This is why I cherish the idea that after 10 years, I can still see and talk to the people who knew me from awkward teenager to still awkward adult. Even if I see them sparingly.
But sadly, my life has been relegated to the Facebook hide-and-seek realm. A lot of us started to move farther and farther away from each other, some of us (like myself) got to poor to attend happy hours, and others chose their insignificant other to spend all their time with.
I find myself thinking about the television show “How I Met Your Mother.” Why can't we all just have a booth at McClarens to talk and hang out at every night? Of course there will be the core group, all of us a version of our favorite “How I Met Your Mother” character eating, drinking and making fun of each other. Also invited are our friends and lovers who we've met along the way. If they happen to mesh with us, then sit down and have a beer. If not, then it's going to be awkward. But sadly, as much as I personally wish our lives to be a fictional hit primetime show, that's not how it works.
Either way, I had to get over my depressing nostalgia if I wanted some sort of reconnection. I learned about the meaning of effort from my friend Marianne, who would drive all the way from Fullerton to Los Angeles for a simple lunch. When she moved to Seattle, she'd call just to say hi. I've taken some lessons from her in that friends and relationships are a two-way street; you can't expect the other person to make all the effort. You're just as much at fault in creating the void.
Sometimes it felt awkward to invite a person out of the blue for coffee, but I had to give up that whole notion of feeling weird and literally put myself out there. In one instance, I found out a friend in middle school lived 10 minutes away, so I arranged a hang out. Soon I found myself going on hiking and camping trips all over the place with new groups of people I met through this one person, which all started with an invitation to go get hot wings. Nowadays, if I find out an old friend is coming back to California through Facebook, I contact them for a meet-up. For the busy folks, I learned that setting up a hangout months (and I mean months) in advance helps out. So far, these tactics have worked, and it's been a good thing.
Other times, it is what it is. Some people in our lives make a guest appearance and bow out gracefully. This was a lesson I had to learn these past few months.
Maybe the people that come in and out of your life were meant to be there only for that time. I can’t look back with a sense of loss and bitterness; rather, I see them as people who have shaped my life toward something new.