Monday, June 22, 2015

Childhood friends

Class photo from my first semester (1B) first grade class.
The names I remember without looking.
Top row: Dawn, Laurie — 2nd row: Dragomir, Seymour, me
3rd row: Maud
Childhood friends. Now that I am sixty-four, have I forgotten them? No, not really. It’s an odd thing about memory, that we often are able to remember names and events from our early years better than we can remember the same from the middle part of our lives, or even from the current time. There are businesses that cater to our nostalgia needs, our need to reconnect, sometimes after whole lifetimes, with people from our past, classmates, for example. I’ve never used their services, but a few years ago, still in my late fifties, I tried to reconnect with some of my old classmates on my own.

Disappointment. That’s what it came to. Not a single childhood friend that I came into contact with was anyone I could relate to now. That seemed very odd, but now I am used to it. If I had stayed and lived my life among those friends instead of disappearing and migrating West, I wouldn’t have had to look them up at all. I might’ve stayed friends with some of them to this very day. A few of those childhood friends, though, and I did remain in touch during our young married lives, in spite of the two thousand miles distance. We even visited each other cross-country once or twice.

But distance doesn’t make the heart grow fonder, at least not in the long run. We miss people a lot at first, but then, as if the other has died, memories fade and emotion bonds are broken. People just drift away from each other. When we do reconnect, sometimes after unshared lifetimes, there is often nothing to say. It’s a little different with relatives, but not much. I reconnected to two of my cousins, the only two that I still knew the locations of, and that was a bit better. Our blood ties make up for everything else—almost. Now, the geographical distance is all that keeps us apart.

It’s funny how free choice and the will of God seem to blend together as life goes on, to the point that one is no longer afraid of making any decision, because we know, in our later years, that God has been faithfully providing for us in spite of ourselves, and that whatever we ‘decide’ is still within His care, and therefore, in His will. No, I’m not saying that if I decide to rob a bank or kill myself that is ‘within His care and His will.’ Of course not. To walk out of His will is to walk into nowhere, exactly the place that things like this happen. But no, we walk in His will, by choice, and He more than reciprocates and blesses.

Those childhood friends whose names and faces I remember were God’s providence for that time, even as our family members were and sometimes still are, but there are no worm-holes through time that let us go back, for nostalgia or for company, to ‘continue where we left off.’ It’s a good sign that we’re still moving, moving ‘with the cloud,’ still running, running after Him, being renewed because, in His presence, nothing and no one can stand still, no one can atrophy or die, no decision we ever make do we make alone. He was, He is, He is to come, always and everywhere, now and forever, our true childhood friend.

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