I can’t remember when, but at some point in my life I decided that collecting milestone memorabilia about my life might be important to future me, so I got myself a mailing envelope and started stuffing it with items that came into my life through various avenues.

Most of the specifics won’t mean anything at all to you, dear reader, but they mean a lot to me. So much so that when I recently reviewed them, decades after I had last seen the contents, they brought real tears to my eyes.

Included were well wishes from friends I have not heard from in years for my 21st birthday. I had letters — honest to gawd letters, back when that was still the only mode of communication over distance — from friends who I had made in college, over summer break. I even had items from as far back as junior high school, some…crist, I dunno, 30+ years? … ago. To say that this was an emotional experience is an understatement.

As I move ahead along the Cosmic Timeline, these kinds of touchstones become more and more important to me. Hindsight has a way of illuminating the Good Times and mitigating the Bad Times, which is fine by me. Left alone with my thoughts I often recall the times when I think I was the focus of bullies, but after reviewing these items I have in my possession, I realize that I was loved and I get all misty eyed just writing that.

In my 50th year on Earth, I am in limited contact with these people who are represented in this cache of documents. That makes me sad; sadder than I want to relay in this one post. I could write your eyes out of your sockets with my memories of my younger days, although it would both pain me and give me the greatest delight to do so; maybe some day I might do so, because if nothing else I’d love to have a modern recollection of my own feelings in this 21st century print. I spoke to a friend from Long Ago about other friends, and several of them have been lost to time, which I think made both of us sad, but I don’t know what to do about that. I miss them all, and the things we’ve shared, but time moves on, and none of us are the people we used to be. What does that time mean to them, I wonder? It means a lot to me, and I’d be afraid to learn their opinions, while also wanting to know how life has treated them over the time of our disconnect.

I don’t really know what place this kind of nostalgia occupies in our lives. In this age of always-contected-ness, I have limited contact with a few folks, but why not all folks? We’ve lost touch, but maintain distance on purpose, but why? Was the time we shared not relevant to them, the way it is in my memories? Or are my memories just convenient, points in time that had no bearing on other people’s future? They have impacted me, to be sure, as I look through these items and am instantly transported back to those moments. I wonder if anyone else has captured these points in time as meticulously as I have, or if they considered them as disposable and ephemeral as any other transient event in their lives. Am I just someone they brushed shoulders with, or was I someone they remember fondly as they remember their history when they are drifting off to sleep on some random night?

I miss these folks, and the experiences we shared. They are gone, of course, as time move on and we disperse across the face of the world, concerned with our own and new personal experiences. But these people have had an impact on me, and I wish I knew where they were, and how I could let them know. It might not mean anything to them in their modern lives, but it means a whole lot to me.

1 Comment

  • Nimgimli

    June 17, 2024 - 1:15 pm

    Once upon a time I found a Facebook group centered around my home town and I was so delighted. Then I started reading it and SO many of the friends I had back then now are very vocal about their political views where are COMPLETELY the opposite of mine. That was depressing and it was when I kind of decided to leave those folks as fond memories rather than trying to reconnect.

    The other thing I’m always really curious about are ex-girlfriends. I think back and remember how crazy in love we were, and even though that ultimately didn’t last and we went our separate ways, I think back fondly on them and wonder if they ever think about me in the same way. I hope they do but I’ll never really know.

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