i’m all grown up now

Last weekend I saw my best friend from high school for the first time in something close to 15 years. We had lunch and hot chocolate and talked for hours, but hardly began the process of first remembering our teenage selves and then substantiating those girls we no longer are with all the experience from the years that have followed.

Afterwards I was thinking about the easy familiarity I had with this person who was my best friend as I did my teenage growing up but who wasn’t there for anything that came afterwards and is now a stranger courtesy of all these subsequent years. But how many years does it take to make a stranger? If you’ve properly known someone, will you always know them, even if you don’t anymore and even if you’ve forgotten that you do?

She remembers some of the details of my high school life that I’ve forgotten. Small stuff like that I used to tease my Dad about his grey hair. Big stuff like one particular teacher’s care for and encouragement of me. I think back on that particular teacher with such fondness, but had no idea that the feeling was mutual. I didn’t keep in touch with her and she has since died. Now that we’re grown ups, the rules are that we can’t go back. It really is too late to change the past.

But then my friend asks me about my dogs, not remembering that it was only one dog. One dog who was a major presence in my life, not least because for the first half of his life he wouldn’t make friends with any of my friends. The ground beneath me starts to tilt as I suddenly get a glimpse of the land between forgetting and remembering. It’s where I live, though I’ve never seen it before.

We can rebuild 1980s Brisbane with our memories and maybe we’d recognise it and maybe we’d call it home.

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