I had the best group of friends in high school. I know; I know. Everyone probably thinks that they had the best group of friends in high school, but I actually did. These people were more than friends. They were my oddball, outcast, beautiful little family, and when I moved away for college, saying goodbye to my friends honestly felt harder than saying goodbye to my family. (Sorry, Mom and Dad. Don’t be mad, please.)
My group of friends came together because we were different, because for our own individual reasons, we all needed a place to belong, and to this day, I haven’t found a place where I felt more at home than when I was just lounging in a coffee shop with that strange little gang of stragglers.
Last summer, I studied abroad in Ireland. It was the best thing I’ve ever done. For six glorious weeks, I explored places I had never been, with people I had never met. It was a freeing and exhilarating experience. Still, all the while, I couldn’t stop thinking about what my high school friends would have thought about each place. Beth would have loved the quaint Irish countrysides. Jake would have scoffed at the idea of hiking, but even he would have been breathless at the sights once we got to the top. Derek would have just been thankful to have everyone together.
These days, I don’t see that group very often. We’re all in different places and going different directions with our lives. And if we’re being really real, which I guess we are, I’m having a hard time with all of this change. Maybe I’m trapped in the past because I’m afraid that I’m never going to find a group like this again. And maybe I won’t ever even have that group again. After all, who knows where we’ll all be after graduation? The scary truth is that things will never be the same. We’ll never all live in the same town again.
It’s hard to reconcile that things don’t stay the same forever. Some moments are so special that even as they’re happening, I try to stop and take note of how perfect things can be. In those perfect moments, I can remember closing my eyes, squeezing my fists tightly together, and hoping for a miracle that might freeze time. It happened on the basketball court in my final game of eighth grade. It happened while I was riding a bike through the Irish countryside last summer. It happened all the time with my friends in high school.
But things change. God, how they change. That’s just life, you know? But does it ever get easier? Do the pangs of harsh nostalgia ever fade away and allow you just to live in the moment without constantly thinking of the past? In a way, I hope they don’t. I hope I always remember how deliriously happy I was just to lie on my back in the driveway and watch the stars with my middle school best friends, to sit on a pier at the lake with my closest friend in high school and talk about the future, about what we loved, and our hopes and dreams. I never want to forget the way I felt in those moments, but I want to be open to new moments, too. I want so badly to grow and move forward and evolve, but all the while I want to grip so tightly to the past that my knuckles bruise with the effort it takes to hold on.
I don’t know what point I’m trying to make in this post. I guess I hope that if I type things out, maybe it’ll all start to make more sense. I guess the point is that change is scary and hard, but it’s also really really rad because you get to make more awesome memories.
And I guess I’m just glad that I’ve got people in my life that are this hard to let go of, and despite the way that fate will inevitably take some of us down drastically different paths, I’m glad to have had most of the best moments of my life thus far with these people.