A few weeks ago, I found myself 2,500 miles from home, sitting under twinkle lights and across the table from an old friend. The stars had aligned, putting us both in the same place at the same time for the first time in over a decade. Try as I might, I couldn't recall the exact moment the lights went on in our friendship. One day I'd never heard his name, the next it was like he'd been there all along; tall and full of thoughts and bearing the weight of a certain kind of wisdom. It seems most of my memories of our roving gang and the way-back days have been swept out to sea by the clouds of time, lost in the nostalgic haze of an old fog machine. I recall lots of laughter, but can no longer place exact dates or timelines. Nonetheless, I remember the flash fondly; a flurry of fun and function, classes and caffeine. Weekends ran Thursday to Sunday with occasional periods of recovery in between. Our nights were filled with too much wine, too little sleep, too many jam thumbprints. We were living on borrowed time and borrowed couches, finding our footing and our way past Boardwalk and Park Place.
I earmarked that phase of life not by dates, but by seasons. Summer was fleeting. Autumn was promising. New Years Day found the winter house warmed by a huddled handful of dreamers and a weightless kind of wonder and love, possibility and blindness one only experiences during that final descent. Childhood took the lead for one last dance, covering our eyes with her gentle hands.
"Trust me," she said. And we did.
"Follow me," she said. And we did. With each night, each gathering, each step, we were leaving behind the world we'd known in order to meet the people we were meant to become.
Eventually, the record took its last spin. And when the music stopped, she scattered us to the wind.
Our lives are a great anthology in which we each play our own protagonist. Some chapters are long, some short. There are periods of peace, of war, of struggle and triumph. The characters are as charming as they are varied. Between the pages we find a spine. We learn to fight against the current to get to where we need to be. There we find the courage to open our eyes and our minds and our hearts. Amongst a sea of strangers, we begin to recognize people we've never met as friends.
The older I get, the more I understand that there is a certain peace one finds in the company of old friends. In those quiet, comfortable moments with the people who've known you for the long haul, you recognize your whole self in them.
Someday the clouds and fog will come to carry all your days away, but ten years from now you'll travel to find you've time traveled. And there, 2,500 miles from wherever you are, you'll rediscover the story of who you are, safe and sound, in a comfortable silence and a familiar face.