I have this friend from high-school-time that I recently reconnected with. Back in the day, he was a wonderful buddy- someone I really got along with. On a fluke, I discovered him in New York City, of all places, last year and we had a wonderful time going over the 'good old days' and marvelling at the way we had both totally changed and remained completely the same.
We were both on the speech and debate teams for our respective schools (his was about 3 1/2 hours from mine- neighbors by Wyoming standards) so we knew each other peripherally from that. Then, we both were chosen to attend a special month-long summer camp type thingy at the University of Wyoming the summer before our junior year. During that time, we had countless late night talks fraught with the angst and idealism that only teenagers know. We laughed, cried, and nursed each other through heart wrenching romantic relationship issues with others. At one point, the people in charge caught him in my room (a huge NO-NO) and we both got in enormous trouble. Even though we were not dating and never had romantic feelings for each other, we really bonded and were sad to say goodbye at the end.
This friend knew me at a time in my life when I was just starting out- just beginning to see myself as a player in the world. Just beginning to think about things like social justice, politics, feminism and the future. He was right there with me, and it was wonderful to have someone to travel this road with.
We saw each other a handful of times more until graduation at which time we parted ways, never to speak again. Until last year that is, when we hung out in NYC for 3 days of boozing and catching up. It was fabulous.
Today, my friend emailed me a picture. It is a picture of me that he took when I was 17 years old. I find myself scrutinizing it...looking for some glimmer of recognition of my former self. This is the me he knew. The girl in the photo looks so...happy. So young. So careless and wild. Am I still that same person now, nearly 13 years later? Yes and no. I recognize parts of this girl in myself, but I have grown up. At the end of this summer, I will turn 30. While that feels old, it also feels more comfortable than 17 did. I'm more cynical, and more resigned. I'm more confident, more sure of myself, my beliefs, and my place in this world. I know myself so much better- what I will and won't do, which compromises I'll make and which issues on which I will refuse to budge.
Would I go back to 17 if I could? Maybe for just one day. Just to feel that carefree, wild, hopeful, just-on-the-brink-of-life feeling again. But pretty soon, I think I'd want to come back to now...there was so much uncertainty back then. There is uncertainty now too, of course, but its a different thing because my core is more solid- I know who I am. Because as fun as 17 was, 29 feels better.