Last night, out at dinner, we bumped into two people we knew in high school: one we hadn’t seen since then, and another I’ve crossed paths with a couple of times. It’s a weird thing, still living in my hometown. You don’t find yourself meeting up with people from the past as often as you’d think, but when you do, the sightings tend to come in twos or threes (like celebrities dying, maybe?). I can go weeks without thinking about high school (especially if I’m not writing) but then I go out to dinner and boom! there’s the past, right there at the next table. On the flip side, my memories are not necessarily bad, although not great either. The trick to staying here is to not LIVE in the past, to move on with your life even as the place stays the same. Still, sometimes as I’m driving around, I’ll have a quick flash, thinking of all the other times I’ve been on that same road, these quick little snapshots of myself at 25, 20, 18, 16…and on and on. Kind of surreal. It’s a good thing it passes quickly, otherwise I’d be permanently freaked out.
Meanwhile, speaking of high school, today is the first day back for everyone around here, it’s all they’re talking about on the morning news. If it’s YOUR first day of high school, I say this: BREATHE. It’ll be fine. Even if it’s a bit bumpy at first, and overwhelming, it will even out in time. (You’ll find this applies to life in general, actually, as you go on.) Today, everyone is a stranger, the school’s enormous, it’s overwhelming. But in a few years, you’ll know everyone, and everything, and all this apprehension will be long forgotten. And a few years after THAT—okay, many years—you’ll be out in your hometown and there those same folks will be again, at the next table. Waving at you, smiling, blasting from that past, back again.