On Forgetting The Past

Before, I’ve referenced my tendency to not care about the things a person has done in their past so long as they are good to me (I was just looking at it here, actually). It’s something people don’t always understand, and I can see why. It’s easy to feel like people don’t change (maybe in some important ways they never do, and I’m certainly no optimist that they always improve with time), so those past actions might mean more then current ones. However, I’ve always been good at (bad about?) forgetting about the way people used to be.

I think it’s the same reason I have so much trouble staying in touch with old friends. Sure, if I don’t see someone for a week or even a month, chances are we can catch up over lunch and be back where we were. However, when you don’t see someone for a long time, they do change, as do you. It’s always seemed strange to me that people go to things like school reunions expecting everyone to be who they were in high school.¬† After all, people change even when you see them every day; they pick up new interests and drop old ones, they do things they would have scoffed at before, they fall in and out of love. Why wouldn’t they do this when you can’t see them.

As an example, I give you Swetha. She and I went to high school together, but a year apart and with a generally different circle of friends. I knew her only in passing, but knew she was smart, attractive, a good student, a leader, Edgar’s girlfriend. Then she disappeared from my life, and while I knew we were technically at the same university when I moved up the next year, we never talked. Until this year, when we had a class together and became friends. She’s still smart, attractive, but now also an RA, single, an art student. So maybe not the most drastic of changes, but enough to go from not friends to friends. Why would it be impossible to change in the other direction?

I suppose my real point is this: by the time a year or two have gone by, you aren’t reestablishing an old friendship, you are creating a new one. So, if ever I failed to track some old friend down to catch up, please understand, it’s not that I didn’t enjoy having you as a friend and probably missed you, at this point, it doesn’t seem worthwhile to go through all that work to meet a stranger, when strangers are all around me waiting to be met.

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