Insanely beautiful day at Stanford today, where spring has introduced itself. I love Fridays, I love sunny days, and I absolutely love writing – so I decided to sit outside, and here I am, with John Mayer crooning his Heartbreak Warfare. Love it.
I decided that today is a writing day.
I don’t mean to harp on a closed and long-discussed issue – and I mean it when I say that I don’t intend to discuss it anymore through comments, though I sincerely appreciate all the kind words extended about this – but one of the two readers who recently quit her subscription here, was actually one of my earliest subscribers. I think that’s partly why it hit me pretty hard; she found this space and stayed before the drama-writing came about. She was around when blogphilic was an emotional punchbag, and stayed throughout the many transitions in my life. So imagine my surprise, genuinely, when I realized her screen name was no longer on my list.
Last night while procrastinating on the term paper, I cleaned up my Facebook friends list and ended up at some profile pages of a few old friends – way old, pre-high school. I’ll be honest: I’ve no interest to rekindle long-lost, now-forgotten friendships. We were so little back then, and childhood memories are one of those things I’d rather remember simply; it was a time of innocence and purity, period.
Then I ended up on his page, an old friend who was supposedly my best friend at nine years old. I was surprised, because apparently he is now at Berklee College of Music in Boston? Wait, what, how – who knew?
We went to different high schools – I went to an all-girls school, while he went to a co-ed one near his house – and my memory of us are vague to be honest, but I do remember how much he loved music, even back then. In high school, he was part of a few bands or something, never without his guitar. Really, woah. Who knew?
He appeared within my sphere again because he’d friend requested me; I ignored it.
Of course one profile led to another, and I looked up his old buddy – they got closer in high school, and I’m pretty sure this dude was part of the band for a time too. We were all in the same primary school (or middle school I suppose, what you’d call it here in the States), and though I got close to the supposedly former best friend and even their girl friends, this guy and I never clicked. He was always the epitome of cool, even at twelve years old; I was bookish, four-eyed, too talkative and outspoken for my own good. I can’t remember if I ever crushed on him, but he’s one of those guys who are naturally good-looking, and the growth spurt has honestly done him wonders; he looks mighty fine, especially now. Brownie points for his career choice too – he’s in the hospitality field, specifically culinary, it looks like. Wow, dude can cook. I’m impressed.
I closed the tab; his face, name, and life highlights disappeared in mere seconds.
A few days ago, I’d asked an old friend for another old friend’s number. They were the girls I loved with all my heart in high school – the same ones who I was convinced, for a long time, were also responsible for breaking my heart. I’ve reconnected with one of them, and the friendship’s great; for the most part it feels the same, and although sometimes I think the stilted silence is telling, there’s no bad blood or cruel intentions between us. I haven’t spoken to this girl, her best friend, in years.
I vaguely recall a one-to-one meet with her, a year after graduating from high school – one of my attempts to allegedly keep the friendship. I think the meet turned out surprisingly pleasant, but I couldn’t shake off my bitterness. So I quietly detached myself, and when I left to Stateside not long after, breaking up a friendship, or a few, turned out to be easier than I thought. She eventually made her way to the UK, though she’s since transferred to an Australian university; hence my attempt to reconnect, because I’m experiencing a terrible pang of wanderlust, so I’m now trying to make an Australian couch-crashing trip happen, in August. Note the word try; le sigh.
My first text sounded like this, “Hey. It’s Jane here. … N?”
As if she knows other Janes, but what do I know? Maybe she does – there’s five gaping years between us, after all.
The conversation flowed so easily though, awkward responses notwithstanding, and then she said it first – “Oh my god it’s like we’re long-lost lovers!” I cracked up and replied earnestly, “Aw man you’re hilarious as always!”
You know what’s funny? To me, it’s like none of them have changed. Neither this old friend, nor the two guys. They seem, sound, and look like the versions of themselves I was once familiar with – except the better versions.
No traces of the gawky nine-year-old; the too-cool-for-school twelve-year-old; the gangly fifteen-year-old. Long gone were the days of braces and retainers, buzz cuts, and oversized clothes. They look fabulous, sound just as fabulous, and based on what’s visible in their social network – loved, lauded, adored, and admired just the same, exactly how I remembered them too.
You know what’s funnier? Inherently they sound or seem the same, and it struck me how little they seem to have fundamentally changed, while I… I… I’ve changed and metamorphosed so much, not necessarily positively.
I don’t look fabulous – I’m currently battling a serious fat phase – and the smarts I was supposedly always known for means little to nothing here. I was never the cool kid, and no matter how much I tried to play cooler versions of myself – they never worked. It’s the same, even now. I am candid, goofy, and of course – too talkative for my damn good. I think I’m a better version of my younger self, and for the most part I really like the person I am now. But to say I am an upgrade version and same old, same old?
It’s funny, for inexplicable reasons, these people grew up beautifully not just physically, but internally as well in such a way that they are neither marred, nor colored by reality. They don’t sound jaded; there are no hints of bitterness. These are folks who live each day like it is sunshine and rainbows because they genuinely believe that to be true – how could it possibly not? These are people you’d find with the biggest grins on their faces in reunion photos, those who positively sparkle from an ethereal, internal light.
Unlike them, I now exist in hues of green, gray, and purple.
I am the one in the photo who’d be off to the side, or squeezed in the middle with an awkward expression. My smile would be lopsided, my hair all over the place. My eyes are telling of what I really feel – happiness or sadness depends on the crowd – and while I am not completely invisible – there’s a certain credibility to the moniker of the smart one, however slight – my presence is hardly affecting.
This time around, it’s not about the numbers; not this time, not at all. When I realized the old reader had quit her subscription, I think what came to my mind – and I’ve wondered about this for a while now – is how much does my writing reflect the changes I have gone through, over the years? How different is my writing voice now, compared to three years ago when she’d first discovered this space? Did she detect this, and is it now so distinct that she no longer relates? Do I sound foreign, even to myself?
Why is it that unlike me, they seem to stay the same, ethereal and unwithered?
I think change is inevitable, and though I quibble and mull over it, I don’t hate it. I don’t try to decide if it is good or bad – it’s inevitable, simple as that. The thought lingers in my mind because I wonder about the girl I once was; the one who’s no longer here.
Do I miss her? Do I wish she is less jaded, not as broken? Do I secretly wish she is like faces of her past, none of whom seem to be consumed by time, experience, and personal hardships? Or is it… that they hide their scars exceptionally well?
Unlike the bright, vibrant fluorescent colors where they exist; I subsist in pastel.
The girl I was, the one who is no longer here. Do I miss her?
Side-note: Interestingly, halfway through writing this, an old friend called. We ended up conversing and catching up for the next two hours and at one point I said, “So I’m detached, like I’m not attached to anyone, friendship-wise.” To which she flatly rejected and immediately retorted, “What are you talking about…” HAHA. Nothing like a real friend to set the record straight, i.e. my dramatic antics? Please… take it elsewhere. In other words, be wary of the thoughts that swirl through my mind!