Got a random phone call yesterday at work from a friend I'd lost touch with for the past 20 years or so. I thought he was a user of our GIS system at work. He caught me off-guard by saying his name and then saying could you take down this email address and send him mine. When I heard that I realized it wasn't a person from the public, but rather and old friend, I felt embarassed that I didn't catch it earlier. At the same time, what would have prepared me for someone I hadn't heard of for twenty years?
In any case, it was great to hear from him. I'd been thinking about the guys I used to hang with back in the day ever since Rob got sick. I thought I should probably tell them of it, but then thought it might be too weird after such a long time of no contact to pull them into such a grievous situation. Rob actually hung around them a few times after I had moved out of state, so he has seen them more recently than I.
So we caught up on a few things over the phone. It's a funny thing, old friends. You can tell a good friend when you pick up with them right where you left off 20 years ago. I've done it with my friend Pat in Minnesota, my friends Maureen and Mark in Durango CO, more recently with our RIT friends in NY, and now Terri and Mark in Minnesota.
I think you go through phases in your life where you kind of make your own lives for a long period of time and then when something tragic or monumental happens, you reconnect. It's not that you intentionally disown these friends, it's just that you move away, make new ones and then get caught up in your new life to the point that time just gets away from you. The next thing you know, you're approaching fifty and you realize that you've lost touch with people who, in part, made you who you are today.
When you get together with these people, as I did at my Cretin High School 30th reunion in 2009, it is important to maintain a healthy focus on the here and now and not get stuck in the past. We tend to glamorize and glorify the past as having been better than it actually was. We all need to realize that we're not 25 anymore and that we've got pretty good lives right now.
Rob made that glaringly clear the last time I talked to him. I said I was struggling with with the point of all of these memories with him if the end result was we're going to get cut short anyways. He said "Jim, you can't go back." He went on to say that the memories are things he cherished, but we can't forget that we are in the midst of making memories every moment of every day. If we're focused on how good things were, we tend to temper how good things are. It was a luminous moment for me, one I'll never forget.
I'm not sure where this reconnection will take me. I'm only sure that life is too short to dismiss people who care enough about you to try and get back in touch.