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Thursday, February 13, 2014

This was me at seventeen years old.  This is not who I am now.
But yes, I still have that car.

A group popped up on Facebook about a year ago for my high school graduating class and I only noticed it because my "friends" were joining it left and right.  In the back of my mind, I knew my ten year reunion was creeping up and that this was the method someone was using to put it together.  After some time, I was invited to join this group but instead of getting excited and accepting the invitation, I took a different approach - I did a massive friend list extermination.

At that point in time, I had just shy of one thousand people on my list of "friends" and most of them had only existed to me in a purely digital form since I fist joined Facebook in 2007.  These were people I had not talked to since graduation and obviously had not played any sort of pivotal role in my life over the following ten year span.  The night I was invited to that Facebook group, my friend list was whittled down to just under two hundred people when all was said and done which made me realize that I really did not want to go to this ten year reunion.

Did I hate high school? 
Was there some traumatic event which happened during those four years?
Would going to my reunion stir up a frenzy of negative emotions?
The answer to all of the above is: "no".

I had a conversation a few days ago which led to me think about my upcoming high school reunion all over again.  This person and I were talking about this suburban bubble which exists around here and how everywhere you go within that bubble creates an experience of the past.  After a while, this feeling starts to get sort of old and sometimes annoying.  When you still have ties to and live within driving distance of the place you spent your teenage years, it feels as if you cannot escape the past - or the people from it for that matter.  I came to the conclusion of knowing that a little more distance from my old suburb should probably exist in my sooner-than-later future.

I live about a half hour drive away from the city where I grew up and that is a product of circumstance and opportunity, more than one of personal location preference.  When my parents went out of town last summer, I stayed at their house for a week, which is also the house I grew up in and during that time I ran across no less than five people from my graduating class who still lived in the area.  The whole situation was weird and even though I currently work in that city, I spend practically none of my free time there since I have a life of my own outside of it.  

In Johns Creek, GA I had many great memories along with all sorts of growing experiences, but at the end of the day, moving away allowed me to grow out of my adolescence and into more of an adult.  When I stopped living there I started becoming less attached to the area and wanted the memories to sort of be suspended in time as something I could look back on and know that I had carved a life away from it, yet was still close enough to visit if I ever felt the need.  

In my own high school, I did not have many friends and this had nothing to do with being an outcast but had everything to do with me separating my actual life from my life at school.  Most of my real friends went to other schools and were at least a year older than me, I devoted no time to extracurricular activities or sports teams at my school, and I only went to my senior prom because I was told not going would lead to regret (that wasn't true, by the way).  I am so disconnected from the class of 2004 that it apparently took two months for anyone to remember me because that is when I was finally invited to join the Facebook group. With all of that said, I still regularly talk to a total of three people from my graduating class (out of maybe seven hundred people), one of whom lives across the country and the other two who are nearly as excited about a ten year reunion as I am.  

There is a possibility that some of the people I did not particularly like as a teenager have grown into great people just as much as there is a possibility that they have not grown at all.  What I found out when going through my rarely researched friend list the night I started removing people was just how immature so many in my graduating class still were and how little ambition (read: class) they possessed.  Most seemed fairly normal, but there were some who never really grew out of their adolescence and it shows - because they either appear insane, uneducated, or childish. Then I realized I was probably better off not knowing some of this information and was also confident that I would also never offer them a job if somehow given such a random opportunity in the future.  Yikes.
   
The thing is, I am happy with leaving the past in the past and remembering people as the individual they were ten years ago because that is the person I knew.  I hold a grudge with nobody I graduated with but on the same plane, I also have no reason to take steps backward to re-live what experiences we may or may not have had together.  Getting into a pissing match with my former classmates is also not on my "must do" list and I am content with leaving behind what I experienced in the past as opposed to reverting to a place and time I have grown out of and into something better for the most part.  

When meeting someone new, I have never once asked them what sort of person they were ten years ago in order to make a judgment of their character in the present, because that would be asinine.  Likewise, I expect nobody to be the same person they were in high school after so many years, but many of us seem to romanticize them as "Little Bobby from the neighborhood." and often have conflicting results in reality.  I would just rather look back on memories as memories.  The people who matter to me from that time period are few and have been a constant presence in my life because we have grown together continually over the years.  The rest can live on as a memory because romanticizing the expectation of someone from my past to be the person I envision is a little silly.  

I know I have grown immensely since high school and as such would rather leave that person as a memory and experience which allowed me to grow into the person I am right now.  
This is a past I appreciate and may occasionally reminisce about, but not one I care to re-live.
Sometimes leaving experiences and people behind allows us to keep moving forward and tends to curb our disappointment about what "could have" or "should have" been because our focus stays on the journey ahead of us.

This is why I am not going to my high school graduation reunion.  
I like memories to stay just as they are. 
The person I am now is only important to the people I am actually important to.

Bitter? None of this is bitter.  I am just content with who I am.

Grace and Peace,
-Drew

 -Add me.  Stalk me.  Tweet me.  I really don't mind.-
Twitter:  @JDrewSilvers
  
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