Hearing from a childhood friend recently made me realize what different paths our lives have taken. Oh, my gosh! How did we ever recognize each other?
So much has changed since the times we often sat in the street in our rural town, building our own little roads out of the loose gravel and dirt next to the curb and steering our toy cars down them. It’s almost as though we’d lifted off for different planets a few years later.
Walking his ambitious cocker spaniel while he was on vacation with grandparents is another memory that sweeps back in. Christopher Robin knew he was in charge of those walks. Even though he was on a double leash, I had to run for my life to keep up. Years later, my friend’s mother told me she’d sat in her living-room, chuckling more and more until she almost fell out of her chair. She knew I had no chance of making the dog obey. He was too wildly exuberant and well aware I wasn’t the boss.
Other memories are painful, including a near-fatal accident that took the sight of one of my friend’s eyes, making it impossible for him to pursue his dream of becoming an Ordnance Surveyor for Britain’s official mapping agency. But he found a successful career as a draftsman, married, and raised a lovely family.
My life was as different as it could possibly have been. I emigrated like other rebels in my Dad’s family. I chose a different religion and married into an entirely different lifestyle. Life has been anything but easy but it has had enough good stretches to make it worthwhile.
Our spouses both passed away with cancer. He has since remarried to another lovely woman. After initial chitchat we could look at each other and say, “You’re still you. No matter what life has put you through, you’re still the person I grew up with.” Yet I can’t help wondering about that sometimes. I know I’ve changed so much, am still changing by the minute. I’m not even the same person I was before I wrote this blog post. That’s how quickly we respond to life.
Yet our eyes are the windows to our souls and I am still the same soul he knew as a small child, no matter what life has done to me, no matter how many hidden wounds I carry. And I can look at him and say, “You’re still you.”