Facebook allows us to be in touch with people we would not otherwise still think about. It’s true. And I understand that some people think it’s silly to have daily updates on people they haven’t seen in 17 years. But I love it. Perhaps I’m a total sucker, but these people were important to me and understand me on a level my more recent friends cannot.
When I was 16, my parents moved us to Alabama. From California. Yes, seriously.
Yet, this great group of people at my new school – none of whom related to me at all – took me in and made it ok to be different, and ok to be outspoken and ambitious. It wasn’t a particularly happy time in my life, but I found comfort in knowing there were ten different lunch tables where I could find friends to welcome me. I never felt alone. It would be easy for me to name – right now – 20 people who made a huge difference in my life during those two years, most of whom I am in touch with, mostly thanks to Facebook. And I could assign each of them a different high school clique “category” but I refuse to demean them in that way. Certainly, I could not have been put into a category in those years; I won’t try to categorize anyone else. But, suffice it to say my friends spanned all groups. Some were black and some were white, some were serious about school and some were not, some came from disadvantaged backgrounds but these never felt like issues to me (perhaps naively, but I never saw anyone according to socio-economic levels at the time). I remember never begrudging anyone else their successes, and no one begrudging mine.
We also experienced our first horrific tragedy together, one that haunts me every day even 16 years later. But that’s not the reason behind our bond. The connections formed in the good times – celebrating first new cars and football wins, commiserating through seemingly traumatic break-ups, experiencing collective relief when the newspaper finally published and the play was finally over. I remember lots of driving. I remember being in lots of different cars, enjoying deep, insightful conversations about love and friendship and dreams…. so different from the cocktail party conversations I engage in today – where talk is all about real estate and Saks sales, and very little that is personal.
Today, some high school friends posted old photos of me on Facebook, and it was sort of nice to be greeted by the young version of myself. Would she be proud of my life today? It’s certainly a different definition of success – I never knew the possibility of being a business owner existed, only imagining success as being named into positions by one big corporation or another. I’m sure I imagined the million dollar home, but never that it would be a fairly normal and un-mansion-like family home. I absolutely know I wanted to return to California, and that probably would have been enough for the person peering out at me from the Alabama high school yearbook.
Starting my day greeted by those pictures put me in a good mood. I will try to carve out some time today to some of these incredible people the difference they made in my life. It took me a long time to find myself (my entire 20s decade, arguably) but now I feel like the grown up version of the girl in those yearbook pictures, and it’s reassuring to see so many of my old friends as the grown up versions of their photos. There’s something sincere and authentic about it. It’s hard to fake-out someone who knew your crushes and most embarrassing moments. High school reminds me that it’s not all about being fancy, but being real.