Eric and I decided one of our goals for this year would be to try to make or keep contact with old friends. We've both lamented the fact that we've lost touch with friends from high school and college, people we loved, who kept us sane or freed us to be crazy, or who helped us discover ourselves, but whom we lost touch with because we moved so much, or were afraid of looking back.
Eric actually has friends he still talks to, or at least he knows where they are and what they're doing. Me, on the other hand? It was as if my life had been cleanly bifurcated: on one side of the divide (life Before Eric, or B.E.) were all the people I knew in Idaho and L.A.--my friends and boyfriends and not-boyfriends, if you get my drift. Then there are all the people I know now, After-Eric, A.E.,--my dear, dear soulmate friends and coworkers and students and a million little rings of people whom I enjoy and would like to know more.
But it's more than just time and moves that has created this split. I think I've also developed the sense that I was actually a different person before I met Eric. Largely, in my mind, that was a person who made mistakes--someone who hurt people or over and over again fell for the wrong guys or spent too much money on credit cards. I was depressed and lonely and a little desperate sometimes. To say I was a late bloomer, in other words, might be an understatement.
Then I met Eric, and knew I wanted my life to be different. Even though I know Eric loves me, loves me, loves me, there is a lot of shit he will not let me get away with, which has been truly good for me. And also, I know he won't leave, and that has really helped me overcome my "daddy" issues, my trust issues with men. So even though I still mess up sometimes with him and say or do the wrong thing, for the most part we have this relationship built on compromise, trust, and passion.
Life A.E. also coincided with me moving to Colorado, getting another fresh start--this after things were starting to feel stale and sour in California--and with starting this job at Mines, which I really like. Then we had the kids, and I had some therapy and started going to unchurch (which sounds like a "saved" narrative, but it's really not. It's about finding more richness in life rather than any sort of salvation). And now life feels pretty good, pretty safe without being staid. I feel excited about where we are and where we're going.
Which is not how I feel about life B.E. I feel a little queasy thinking about those times, and my memory of those high school and college years is oddly blurry, for how important they were. I said and did stupid things (thank God Girls Gone Wild wasn't around back then). I feel like I wasn't a good person--maybe I was even a bad person sometimes. I don't know. But that's the feeling I get when I think back. And I know I would never do those things now.
This is not me.
Maybe I need to forgive myself for some of that. I was a kid then, after all, trying out the world some, and messing up a lot of the time. But that's not so weird, right? And just because I did dumb stuff then doesn't make me any less good now. My past shouldn't diminish me, my humiliation is not useful. Right? My pendulum just swung a little wider than other people's, maybe. But not so wide as all that.
So I tried to do some repair work this week, to rebuild some of those bridges. Which means I spent some time at Classmates and MySpace trying to track down old friends. I was terrified sending some of those emails, worried that people wouldn't want to hear from me, or wouldn't write back and I wouldn't know why. But people did write back--my very best friend from high school did, and a great friend from college--and I'm so excited and happy to hear from them, to hear about the amazing things they're doing. It's been weirdly healing, like maybe the divide between B.E. Jen and A.E. Jen has been bridged somewhat.
A good thing, writing down those goals. And exciting to reconnect.