Going back in time is a dicey proposition. I tested it out last week in Chicago when visiting with some friends I hadn’t seen in seven or eight years.
We had not kept in close touch. I am a lousy correspondent; five Christmas cards constitute an overachiever year for me. I also tend to get wrapped up in the local day to day, leaving little time for those far away.
The bus ride to my old neighborhood gave me a jarring sensation of the familiar turned foreign, as in a dream when you know you’re at school but the building is clearly your Aunt Millie’s house. Visiting with old friends, on the other hand, felt surprisingly normal—no awkwardness, no tension, as if I dropped by for lunch on a regular basis. Though we had only an hour and spent most of it catching up on life details, simply being in each other’s company gave us all a good deal of joy. Something within us still fits together in whatever ways first drew us to one another.
These people’s presence in the world makes me happy. It still matters to me how their particular corner of life is turning around. Their idiosyncrasies still charm me. How can I claim all that when we rarely take the time even to shoot off an email? I suspect that friendships are amazing, elastic things, and our capacity for love exceeds the time available to us, taken up as it is with the necessities of work, laundry, and the like.
There are people scattered across the globe whose daily lives used to intersect with mine but now diverge completely. Some of them I can reasonably hope to see again; others I likely never will. Yet I find it comforting that I care what happens to them and that they may return the favor.
11 thoughts on “Falling Back In”
And when our paths no longer cross, know that I will always care what happens to you dear birthday sister!!
Aw, thanks, Korla. We still need to go bowling!
It is now official: I get more responses when I post lines from your blog than when I post anything else. It is some mark of art when an author who writes expansively can yet be quoted with the brevity demanded by facebook posts.
“Don’t worry, I won’t let it go to my head.” Though I must say it’s awfully nice to hear. OK, quotemaster, what movie is that from?
Good ole Pope:
True Wit is Nature to advantage dress’d
What oft was thought, but ne’er so well express’d
Your title is so right. It makes me think that being back with friends with whom you haven’t kept in touch is maybe is like falling in step with someone, maybe like a puzzle piece fitting quietly back into place, and maybe a little like [the non-painful version of] falling back in love all over again? Like surprise and not. I love this idea of friendship as “elastic”–ever-inclusiving, unchanging but in the most organic, mobile way. I love your word “suspect,” because it catches some work-a-day, laundry-doing insight into the life-of-things.
Your comment about “suspect” makes me think what I was thinking when reading Fish’s How to Write a Sentence. I kept thinking–did the authors do what he is talking about intentionally or, like me, did they just fiddle with it until it sounded right?
Something like Malcom Gladwell’s ‘Blink’ surely has things to say to the persistent question of whether the authors meant “all that” when they were writing. The idea that they fiddle until it sounds right seems like a perfect way of getting at that, too.
And there is SUCH pleasure from knowing that magical people are out there being splendid in the world, even if they aren’t exactly at the crossroads of my every days.