Friday, September 21, 2007

What do you say to the younger you?

Ever stop to wonder what you would say to the younger you if you could go back in time? I know I have. Pretty much every time I've wondered about it, I've thought in terms of the me now teaching the me then a few things - you know, sharing my wisdom with the younger me.

A couple days ago, I had reason to wonder it all again. I got in touch with an old friend - Heather - that I haven't really talked to or heard from in years. Don't know why I got hold of her now, but I did. She's running a maternity shop in Alice Springs in Australia. That just seems perfect for her - it's not the least surprising that this would be what she's been doing.

Over a decade ago - god, has it really been that long - Heather got hired on at the frame shop I worked at. She was a welcome addition - especially as the girl she replaced was beyond terrible at the job and only lasted about a week or so. But I digress.

Heather was engaged to Nick. He was the mysterious Aussie she always talked about. And I truly do mean always. The weeks went by and finally the wedding was around the corner. The man of her dreams was coming over to the states and they were getting married. Of course, that's never been a thing that has ever curtailed my flirting nature and I have to admit that I did do more than a little of that back in those days.

Maybe it was her nerves that made her do it - or maybe it was my strange, animal charm - but she couldn't stop herself. She cornered me at the store one day.

"You know Nick will be here in a couple of days..." she said.

"Yeah," I replied, a little unsure where this was going.

"Well, can I ask you a really big favor?"

"Sure."

She paused, obviously nervous, her youth leaving her unprepared to deal with this kind of moment.

"Ummm. It's a huge favor..." she said. "You can say 'no' if you want. I would understand, but it would mean a lot to me."

"I'll do whatever you want Heather," I said. "You know how I feel about you."

She paused again - longer this time - and looked at me as if gauging my sincerity. She always had trouble believing that my sincere moments were real. It was obviously hard for her to ask what she wanted so badly to ask. I tried to smile.

"Ummm... Nick doesn't really have anybody here that he knows very well," she said quickly. "Do you think you could be his best man?"

Of course, I said yes. It was a big honor that she thought enough of our friendship to ask - where did you think this was going? This is a nice story and here you are thinking terrible thoughts. Shame on you.

Anyway, got to drink with Nick before the wedding, so all was good. He was a really nice guy and I was happy for them. We all were - despite the months of hard times we had given Heather for her dreamy preoccupation with her wedding plans.

Then they went over to Australia. I heard from Heather a couple of times. It was nice to get the occasional postcard from the bottom of the world. Her mother and sister stopped in from time to time and kept us up to date too.

The years take their toll though. And eventually we lost touch. Every so often, a moment would make me think of Heather and wonder how she was - but, I'm a pretty lazy person and I seldom got past Googling and letting it drop.

After all this time, would she even want to hear from me? Would she think it weird that I looked her up? I decided to just do it and left a message on the store's guestbook. I was happy - totally silly happy - to get an excited email the next day.

Her story has gone a different way than I imagined it had - who's hasn't come to think of it. A life lived is nothing if not unpredictable. But it sounds like she's figuring out her path. That's not for me to say, or judge, or anything like that, but I can still be interested and even a bit proud.

Anyway, to be honest, this whole thing sort of tilted my world a bit for a few days. I guess memories will do that. It was strange to find myself travelling back so many years ago, looking at myself, and her, the people that came and went in the frame shop, and that whole world with much older eyes.

I always thought that if I could go back and meet the younger me that I would give him plenty of great advice. As it turns out, that me was the one who imparted some wisdom. There are so many things that are easy to lose - dreams, friendships, our direction - and they are all worth holding on to.

That younger me reminded me of some of those things and I feel like I let him down along the road. But the good news is...it's still not to late to recapture some of those dreams and to track down old friends and reconnect. Life doesn't have to be a fairy tale, but you don't have to give up hoping for one.

3 comments:

Heather said...

Fantastic! I love how you remember these things with such clarity. ;)

I am so glad you found me, since apparently you fanished into thin air.

This was a fun trip down memory lane. We seem to have picked up where we left off and I look forward to knowing you, well... forever. :)

dbackdad said...

Good story. Glad you two had the opportunity to reconnect.

My advice to a younger me would have been to not be such a pussy and actually switch my major from engineering to philosophy.

Shawn said...

Heather - Keeping a journal helps...that's for sure. It's been awesome to catch up. I'm glad to be back in touch, let's try and keep it that way.

DBD - I can understand that one...I don't think I would have let myself take political science again. Just look where it's gotten me!