every once and awhile, something happens that reminds me that i’m, in fact, 24 year. almost a quarter-of-a-century old. (i’m not complaining or bemoaning, it’s just that i still feel younger and greener than most 19 year olds.) today was one of those days.

i went into kroger on my lunch break to buy some stamps (to send a thank-you card). the guy working the counter had also gone to princeton and after i confirmed he was who i thought he was (i never made an effort to stay in touch with anyone from high school), he told me that the guy i’d dated through most of high school and college had gotten married recently–did i know?

actually it just passed the four-year mark of when we broke up. i think it was august 2 in 2003, and we’d been together for four years at that point. i’ve never been bitter about any of it (i’ll be the first to admit that i did enough of that while we were together) and in fact think that that–heart break–was one of the best things that’s ever happened to me. it’s why i’m advocate for heartbreak; not to be miserly or anything but because i think suffering and feeling like your world’s upside down is  enlightening. i’m sure that i’m neglecting things (i read in a book once that your mind, because it has to be be selective and can’t remember everything, only chooses the extremes–the highs and lows–or your experiences and forgets the middle grounds. this could very well be the case here), but it seems that in that moment, i had my own butterfly effect and, with that one release, became a completely different person. now, at the time i was 20 and of course i would grow up in the years to come. but i really do think that that moment of “OK, then we’re done” was the catalyst for who i am today. and so i’m actually thankful that he decided he didn’t love me anymore. i feel much more at home with myself now than i ever did then.

and so when the guy told me, i asked him if he went to the wedding and he said no. i asked if he knew the “wife” (how weird is it to say that about a guy who you always thought you’d grow up and call your husband?), and he said kind of and I asked if she was nice and he said she was kinda goofy and i said good. and i mean that. i do want the best for them.

but it’s weird. it’s weird to realize that someone who i had spent nearly every day with for what was a quarter of my life, is not someone i know anything about anymore. he’s grown up, he’s made different choices and become someone totally different. i know the same is true for me, but it’s hard not to imagine him as the same 22 year old i knew back in that other life. it’s weird to think of him having the courage to ask someone else to marry him and then picking out a first-dance song and then a honeymoon and then furniture together for their first place. it’s just weird because it seems like a life so long ago.

and that’s when i realize how much i’ve grown up. that these things happen. i don’t yearn for prom or for homework or for drama or having to pick a seat in the cafeteria. but i do miss the days when anything is possible and you don’t feel like time is running out–you feel like it’s always on your side and you live forever. of course i have faith, but it’s weird to be snapped back to reality as i watch everyone else grow up and i simulanaously stand still and realize that while everyone else gets married or talks about getting married, i’m of marriage age but so far removed from it. it’s a sobering reminder. and one i’m OK with for now, but just that causes me to cock my head to one side and blink and go, “hmph,” at the curious thing before me.

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