Monday, November 23, 2009

Going Back in Time

This fall, I had the pleasure of participating in an informal reunion with some old friends in a place that was quite dear to me as a child. We spent a fantastic weekend together, catching up and reminiscing, and I left the gathering feeling fuller than when I'd arrived.

All in all, a pretty lucky outcome. Perhaps even an unlikely one.

Returning to a place of childhood memories seems simple enough. But gazing with new eyes upon a place that was once so familiar, well, it's not for the faint of heart. No matter how well you prepare yourself, the air quickly becomes loaded with the substance of those memories. Expectations are always too high.

There was nothing I could do to dim my expectations. I walked into this place, for the first time in over ten years, incredibly excited, but nervous that it was going to let me down. It never had before, but still. Nothing stays the same forever, even our memories evolve, leaving out things we'd prefer to forget, or changing details to make the picture more rosy all around.

In the moment, in that place, my memories won. Big time. It all came rushing back, the good, the bad, the ugly, the unbelievably beautiful, the life-changing. Being surrounded by these friends made it seem as if no time had passed. The world rewound and all that was outside faded away.

Driving home, though, it finally struck me, all the things that had changed. How these friends had all grown up, grown apart. Our coming together was like a snapshot, dug out of an old dusty photo album, then put back away. But could what we once had be so easily dismissed?

Somehow, then, I made peace with something I'd been holding on to for a while. An irrational hope for something long past. A season of our lives that had risen bright then faded, and all we're left with is the memories. We can't get it back, no matter how hard we try. Letting go is right. Moving on is okay. Moving on is good. It's just another season.

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