Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Losing touch...

We live in a time of Facebook and MySpace so many of us don't even understand the concept of "losing touch" anymore. I was reminded today that it is still possible to face the repercussions of losing touch with people.

High school, well, let's just say it was a difficult time for most of us. As I told an old friend today, it is not really like High School Musical, now is it? In real life, well, it is much more “real.” I was a transplant student my 9th grade year and had not been in school my whole life with these people as most in my class had. I was an awkward teenager, well most folks are, but I felt like a foreigner in a new country. As we all do; I made mistakes, made friends, made enemies, said things I should have, said things I shouldn’t have, and acted like an idiot at times... but then there were the times of laughter, fun, and the moments that made high school bearable. There are people who stick out in my mind as the ones who made me miserable (though as I get older these people seem so miniscule), but there are the ones who made a difference in my life, even if neither of us realized it at the moment. Even if it was just a smile in the hallway, making me laugh when I felt like crying, singing acapella in class (over and over because I begged and pleaded), standing by my side in a good debate in English class, calling me your little sister (and we are not even remotely blood related), consoling me when my boyfriend was a jerk (which was most of the time), piling 20 people in your VW bug and making it 21 just because I was in need of a ride home, listening to the same song over and over for weeks on cassette single going to school each morning, or just hanging out in the break area during lunch (or the freezing cold in the mornings beside the Science building). People can touch our hearts with the slightest of kindness or they can further enlarge a wound in our hearts with cruelty. I am sure I was at times on each end of both of these. I wish I had known then what I know now... isn't that the old saying?

We have lost several classmates over the years. Some I did not really know, others I knew well. Seeing old friends at a funeral home you say, "We should stay in touch." But then life gets back on track and time slips away. These days with Facebook, we know more about where our friends live, what their kids are doing, who makes them mad each day, and even when all of their birthdays are (I never knew this in high school LOL). But, in truth… is this "keeping in touch?” I, for one, enjoy reaching out to old friends. Getting together to laugh and giggle over the old days and look at yearbooks (which induces more giggles and laughter). I did this not too long ago with a small group who I was particularly close to in high school. It was so much fun and probably the most relaxing thing I have done in a while. It helped relieve stresses and worries that adult life inevitably burdens us with. It was better than any day at the spa. Laughter is such a great healer, and folks you cannot get that from Facebook, I assure you. Being someone who did not grow up with my classmates, and who dated someone outside of my school, I never felt like I fit in anywhere in particular in high school. I had many great friends at school, do not get me wrong. But for the most part they were like me, just happy to have a laugh and good conversation with whoever was close by and willing to talk. They didn’t care if someone had money, a nice car, expensive clothes, or what clique they belonged to or didn’t belong to. I look back and I am proud to say I had a diverse collection of friends. I have those friends who have remained a constant in my life. Oh of course, we had times where we lost touch but we have always been able to find each other again. A good friend is someone you can pick up a conversation with, right where you left off 10 hours, days, weeks, months, or even years ago.

Now, you are probably asking… is she ever going to get to the point? Well, I am. I found out today that a classmate from high school is very, very sick. I have not seen Josh since high school. But I will tell you… he was one of the good guys. You are thinking, people always say that about someone who is sick or who is gone, right? Well, with Josh, it is true. We never hung out outside of school, but he always made me smile and laugh when he was around. One example in particular… my senior year there was a girl who made me completely miserable. I always came to Art class complaining and fussing about this girl. He would crack a joke and make me laugh until I completely forgot what I was mad about. This situation became a running joke between us, and to this day he would probably ask me if I am still mad at the girl with the huge, gigantic, planet sized nose. I will tell you truthfully, Art Class was the highlight of my meager existence at Dothan High School (well, that and the awesome group I ate lunch with in the break area every day). It was what got me through each day. One, because I love drawing and painting and only feel complete and whole when I do it… but mostly, the people I sat with that year were the best! They all overlooked my flair for the drama (ok, so I never outgrew THAT) and they never made me feel insecure about being me. I guess that is just what us artsy, right-brained folks are like when we get together. But after graduation, time and distance got between us all. As it is sometimes, we forget those who have touched our lives in a positive way until it is too late. Sadly, it seems to take something like this to trigger the memory of those moments we should be so thankful for. I am ashamed that I have never thanked Josh, or many of the other people who helped me survive high school in one way or another. There are many, most of you know who you are by the few examples I shared above. I hope and pray I get the chance to thank you all before it takes something like this to trigger it. I hope that somehow I did something to make someone’s life better, if even just for a moment, as you all did for me, as Josh did for many. I don’t deserve it, because I have not seen Josh in so long, but I plan to go by to see him in the hospital to show my respect and to tell him thanks, especially for for helping me learn to laugh through my anger (even with the girl with the huge, gigantic, planet sized nose.) :)

"Everyone leaves footprints in your memory, but the ones that leave footprints in your heart are the ones you will truly remember." -Nicholas Sperling