I am naïve, and I know this. But sometimes my naivety takes me by surprise, especially when it’s about something as fragile as relationships. You see, I’m one of these people who ‘captures moments’. When I have a conversation with someone, something from that conversation will stick with me forever. It might not always be the most significant piece of that conversation, but it’s there – inside my mind, like a reference card in a library – and it points to a specific memory. Sometimes these moments haunt me for years, maybe even forever. I like having these moments, even when they’re torturous. But the funny thing about relationships is, they don’t preserve well – they must be constantly worked in order to stay fresh and alive and thriving.
Do you remember cassette tapes? I do. My memory is a lot like a cassette tape when it comes to relationships. Every time I interact with someone the cassette is running and recording. But as soon as we part ways, I stop the tape, file it away, and then when we interact again, I start the tape exactly where we left off. I like to pick things up in the same place, even when years have passed. You see, for me, we’ve only been apart for a few moments; maybe days or weeks even, but certainly not years. I just pop the tape in, and we’re off and running…at least in my mind we will be. But that’s not reality, is it?
People move on with their lives. They make new friends. Their priorities change. Their lifestyle changes. Their sense of humor changes. Everything about them is different and I suddenly realize I no longer know this person. That once common bond between us is broken – severed – disappeared, and dangling in the winds of change. And when I realize this my heart aches, and I curse time. I wish we could just rewind time like I can rewind my cassette tapes. Play them over to familiarize us with the past and then pick right up where we left off and go on. But we can’t. We must all move on with life, including me. Sadly though, in my mind I’m still that same girl – young and fresh and full of vigor. It’s only when I look in the mirror that I realize I’m reaching my sell by date, and fast.
Friendships are rare. Occasionally you have one that lasts a lifetime no matter how far apart you get – like your spouse, or parents, or siblings, or maybe even a childhood friend; but mostly friendships come in short burst. They are cyclical, like the seasons; and the larger the distance between you the harder it is to keep them steady and flourishing. Sometimes, whether we want to or not, we reach a place when we realize it’s time to pack this waning relationship up and just move on with life. Sure, we can pull these memories out occasionally and enjoy the warm fuzzies that are associated with them, but it is naïve to think that you can just pick back up right where you left off and expect everything to be exactly as it was all those years ago.
So today I’m doing some mental housekeeping. It’s hard – I don’t want to let go of these things. I don’t really enjoy change, even when it’s change for the better. Some of these relationships were so lively, sweet, laugh-out-loud funny, and even heartbreaking, but they’re all apart of me. They have made me who I am today, and I’m not ready to just say a quick ‘thanks’ and then drop them in the recycle bin to be forgotten about. So I’ll pack them up and tuck them into a corner of my heart, and one day in the future I’ll dig them back out and filter through them – tossing what I can and savoring the rest.