Thursday, June 18, 2009

IN FLIGHT

"We talk about our flight
In this queer dimension
And how we're afraid
To carry on our own
And finish our direction
Flying home"
-- Linda Perry, "In Flight"

The other day I had one of those increasingly frequent deja-vu moments -- where else? -- on Facebook. This particular blast from my past had "befriended" me there awhile ago, and since then, we had exchanged occasional words, but nothing significant. This was our first extended conversation in 10 years.

At first, I felt somewhat awkward, as I often do when reconnecting with someone for the first time in years. Mostly because the person I am is not quite the person I was. Many of my friends my age go on and on about how age is nothing but a number and how they feel the same way that they felt 20 years ago. I've always begged to differ. No one feels the way they felt 20 years ago. Personally, I'm changing every day. I am not even who I was on Sunday.

To quote the opening track on Sinead O'Connor's I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got CD, I feel so different now. Twenty years ago, I did not have to worry about borderline high blood pressure or, for that matter, my waistline. Twenty years ago, I had never had a boyfriend, never been kissed (by a boy), and was still safely tucked away in the closet, far from the maddening gay crowd. Twenty years ago, I had never left the country, barely ventured outside my home state of Florida, and moving to New York City and launching my journalism career there was still two years away. Twenty years ago, I was probably closer to my mother than anyone else, and I couldn't imagine life without us talking all the time. In my mind, anyone who says they feel the same way that they felt 20 years ago must have spent approximately two decades living under a rock.

Any life worth living is about change -- spiritual change, emotional change and physical change. Turning 40 was a kind of scary (I've grown to love it), but I was not one of those people who lied to myself, saying that it's just a number or that you are as young as you feel. You are as young as you are. I challenge anyone who claims to feel, physically, at 40 the way they felt at 20 to pull one all-night party and call me in the morning -- if they can get out of bed. I've changed, and although the blast from my past said that I look exactly the same (I appreciate the ego boost!), I know that I don't. Physically, I haven't changed as much from 30 to 40 as I did from 20 to 30, but now I know that whenever I get carded, someone is simply following the rules.

I was surprised by how much he remembered and by how different he seemed -- older, wiser and maybe just a little bit sad. Perhaps the latter was due to very specific recent circumstances (the death of a close friend), as he is now married and apparently, happily so. I was touched by his generosity, his view of how things went down between us. I'd never felt quite right about it and have spent the past 10 years feeling somewhat guilty for not handling things in the best possible way. I'm not sure that I'm ready to let myself completely off the hook. It could be the perfectionist in me, needing everything to be just right. Perhaps it's the people pleaser in me, never wanting to leave anyone with a bad impression. Maybe his recollection was dead on, and his owning his role in the denouement was a sign of maturity.

It's all water under the bridge now. He seemed genuinely happy to see me doing so well in my life and in my new relationship. I'm happy, too -- in my life, in my new relationship and, at long last, with my memories of the past. The last significant relationship of my twenties finally has its happy ending.

Incidentally, between making my last post and finishing this one, I received a message from my old friend. He had just read "The Violets In The Mountains Have Broken The Rocks," and he quite astutely related the sentiment of the title, an old Tennessee Williams quote, to my new relationship. He advised me to hold on to love, don't let go and enjoy the ride. And he's right.

A happy ending indeed -- and a great new beginning.
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