Friday, 3 November 2017

[ Old friends, new times, same people ]

Everyone is trying to bring back the '90's. To be fair, and especially as someone who grew up in them, they were pretty awesome; good music, hilarious clothes, great movies. There are so many fabulous trends to come out of that time. But can we say the same of people?

The last few years has thrown up more than a few flashbacks to my teens and twenties, and more than a decent amount of characters I thought buried quite firmly in the past. Not that there's anything necessarily wrong with a stroll down memory lane, but I've always been a little bit suspicious about people trying to recapture their youth. Let me explain.

A while back, I ran into a girl I knew in my 20's, whom I met through an ex. We reconnected again recently and ended up getting together to go jogging or have brunch, and talk about what we wanted from our lives and careers. She worked in high end interior design retail, also lived in the inner west, had high hopes and drive for the future.

All sounds great right? Reconnecting with someone from the days when we were younger and stupider, and finding that we were older and perhaps a little less stupid, with a little more life experience.

Except she wasn't. She'd changed jobs four times in the just over a year, ostensibly jumping ship from company to company because of a position opportunity, then back when she found it all just verbal promises from above. This combined with massive shouting matches with her boss over his inability to understand her, and him stating her unprofessionalism.

We talked about what she might do, and how her career might turn if she made a decision about what she really wanted, all very casually and optimistically. I found myself falling back into tired old lines like, I'm sure it's just the companies you work for, and Sure, you can absolutely take time to figure it out.

Stuff I didn't mean, stuff I had spent time breaking the habit of because it was crap; things you tell yourself when you're young and haven't learned yet that some things are other people being assholes, and some things are your responsibility, your decisions to make.

Whereupon she decided to take a month long holiday in Japan without the leave accrued to do so.

Sadly, and obviously, she got fired on her return. Her opinion was that is was all her boss' fault, and she couldn't see how this had happened at all, and she should be able to do whatever she wanted, whenever she wanted.

I couldn't figure it out; where was the girl who had clear goals and corporate understanding? It had been over SIX years; what had she been doing all that time? I may have gently asked as much, and the response wasn't pretty. I didn't understand, I had no knowledge of how corporate worked (as if nearly a decade in corporate myself was nothing), it's really hard all the time.

We weren't reconnecting anymore, we were reenacting; she was the superstar and I was the back up. It took a little while to become obvious, but I realised that we'd both changed and all we had in common were hazy memories of days past.

We slowly stopped hanging out, and I slowly stopped holding my breath about what fresh drama she would produce on her next call. I wished her the best the rare times we did run into each other, but it became like interacting with an old work colleague who I could barely recall.

She knew I wasn't the person from her past, and I knew she still wanted us both to be those people. No one was ever going to win, but I think under the surface she knew at least this way, no was ever going to lose.


Not long after we stopped spending time together, I ran into a guy on a film set whom I went to high school with. I felt awkward at first and hovered in the corner, trying not to be noticed. Being that he was the director, it wasn't long before he found me and we had what can only be described as a Hallmark-worthy catch-up; one of those really satisfying encounters you want to write down to replay later. 

He'd married the love of his life; a woman I also went to high school with and incidentally actually had a good hand in getting him together with. She also popped over at some point and suddenly it was like a surreal moment from the past when we used to hang out - laughing and telling stories, catching each other up on what we were doing now. 

And it felt real and relaxed. None of us pretended we were anything like we used to be, or had any of the spontaneity of our teenage years. We had new skills and new experiences, whole new lives with whole new people. And all those things coloured the people we are now - built on the people we were back in the day.

I don't see much of these folks at all, and certainly not as much as of my closest friends (people who, unexpectedly, only came into my life in the last few years), but when we do bump each other, it's pleasant and lovely. If we've changed jobs or houses, we talk about it like that's what people do when they grow older - change.

Because we do. For better or worse - hopefully the former - everything changes. It's not the mammoth drama some people make it out to be. It's just life. 


Basically, that's the wonderful nature of looking back. You can see the people you were and see who they are now. Old friends might fade, but new friends can pop in all the time. Some of them might be people you've never met before, but sometimes it might be a figure you used to know, all grown up.  A walk in the past isn't always a bad thing.