Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Comfort of How Much People Stay the Same

Today was an interesting day, as days go. I'd known I had plans with a friend from high school who actually lives in my town but whom I don't see very often (she's working on her PhD with all of the insanity that this entails) for this afternoon/evening, but I ended up unexpectedly talking to a couple of friends from elementary school on conference call before that. This might not seem weird to some of you. Maybe you've stayed in touch with people with whom you went to elementary school, or maybe you were in the same school system from K-12, so there wasn't a major break with your friends from elementary. For me, though, well, there was a major break between elementary school and high school.

See, I went to elementary school at a small inner-city catholic school - the same one my mom had gone to as a kid, incidentally. But in 7th grade my parents got divorced, and in 8th grade my mom let the house we'd been living in go into foreclosure (it was in such a shitty neighborhood there was really no way to sell it, and my father, well, I don't quite know the ins and outs of everything, but I do know that part of the reason why my mom made that choice had to do with his choices in that time). So the deal was, we moved as soon as my 8th grade year was done, to a border suburb, and I moved on from my grade school crowd. I kept in sporadic touch with a couple of people for a year or two, but then that was that.

Now, I've thought for a long time that it was lucky my life went that way. Of my 8th grade class, I was the only girl who didn't get pregnant in high school. I was one of only 3 or 4 (of 18) who went to any college at all, and one of only two who actually graduated from college. Of those who stayed in the neighborhood, 3 or 4 (that we know of) did time in jail, some for some pretty serious violent crimes, and many more dropped out of high school. So yes, my mom getting me out of that neighborhood and into a world where I thought it was cool to be in choir and on the high school newspaper was crucial in the path my life would take. But so, via the miracle that is facebook, I've reconnected with a few of the grade school folks, and through this connection, I talked to two people today - my best friend, S. (who's had a very rough life, but now is happily married with four kids and is a stay-at-home mom), the Vietnamese boy T. who was, along with me, probably the only one anybody ever expected to achieve anything (and he did - he's moved out of state, graduated from the flagship U. of our state, and is married with two BEAUTIFUL children).

Obviously my life has taken a different path from the people with whom I went to elementary school, but what was most amazing about this conversation today is how simple and easy it all was. There was no weirdness, even though I hadn't talked to T. and S. in 20 years. No, it was just like we were 12 years old and students at St. B's, having a three-way call. Sure, kids interrupted the conversation at certain points, and sure, all in all people don't understand what the heck I actually do, they're just Very Impressed at how I've ended up, and yet also slightly confused that I'm not married. But still, we're all the same people, for all of the disparate experiences that we've had.

And the same is true with me and the high school friend with whom I hung out.

You know, there are certain people who you encounter in your life who just KNOW you. You may not talk for 20 years, you may not have anything currently in common. But there are people who are forever your people, whether you keep in touch or have things in common or not. That is astonishing to me in a lot of ways, but it's also just awesome.


The History Enthusiast said...

That really awesome! How cool for you!

Aurora said...

Yes, I noticed too that some people you know for a long or short time in your life, then move away, and somehow you know them forever. You can pick up talking right where you left off.

phd me said...

I was just having this conversation last night! While I was visiting Home Town last month, I had dinner with a high school friend and his family; we haven't seen each other in 10 years and have exchanged maybe 3 emails in that time. But it was like no time at all had passed! It's so nice to be with people who know you, who recognize you for who you are without any effort. Glad you've had that experience, too!