It is amazing how one small decision can create a snowball effect that takes your life off of one path and onto another in a nanosecond. We often get so wrapped up in the big decisions that we forget that lives are probably changed more drastically by the small decisions. We forget that our past helped to shape our present, as well as our future.
Today I was able to reminisce a bit, my memories leading me down paths covered with dust and littered with cobwebs. Paths that I seldom walk anymore, not for lack of wanting, but instead for lack of time. When I do pull out the broom and dust off those paths I can see that they are well traveled. It becomes obvious that they are beaconing me to visit once more and are more than willing to embrace me while I am there. The further down the paths I travel the more hazy the memory, victims of time and space. Sweeter memories remain bright, as do more solemn memories. The memories that seem to escape me are the small ones, the ones that seemed so insignificant at the time and for months after their occurrence. At some point those memories jump out at me, begging to be seen, desperately wanting me to understand that they were, indeed, significant in their own way.
My walk down memory lane today was triggered by a chat with an old friend. An old friend who happens to be a boy. An old boyfriend. Well, actually, he is a young friend. He is younger than me, and the only person I ever dated that was younger than me. But, prior to holding the esteemed title of my boyfriend, we were simply friends. We belonged to a group that is now scattered in the wind, a group that once spent great deals of time together, and has since gone on with our respective lives. We keep in touch here and there, but not the way we probably should. But just enough to help us remember.
Through this conversation, via Facebook Chat, I felt a well-known tug in my stomach. This tug was not that of nerves or of anticipation, nor was it the tug of despair. No, instead it was the tug of the familiar. It was the physical reaction to a mental waterfall of memories, emotions, and feelings. It was laughing at a shared experience that, at the time, seemed like the most embarrassing thing in existence. It was a small smile creeping onto my face at the knowledge that I made an impact in his life just as much as he did in mine. It was marveling at how, after feeling that he has hated me for so long, I feel as if we are friends again in the truest sense of the word, if not necessarily the most active sense. It was understanding that it is perfectly alright to look back at your past and not regret a single thing, and honestly feel in your heart that you do not regret it. I pray that he knows no regrets and that he experiences the glorious freedom of living a life with no regret. I will concede that the tug I felt did have a few attachments to my heart, and it would be silly and a bit immature of me to deny that. I loved this person for several years with all of my being. I expected to build a life with this person, have children with this person, and grow old beside this person. Even after we went our separate ways, part of me hoped against hope that we would find our way back to each other and that the barriers to our relationship would suddenly fall. I do not believe that our hearts are at all capable of loving someone and then unloving someone in a lifetime. Instead, I feel that our hearts have boundless capacity for love and that we should savor every ounce of love we can give or receive. Our hearts remember what our minds choose to forget. While you may no longer be in love with someone does not mean that you are incapable of feeling some variation of love toward that person. Admitting this does not make you any less in love with your husband or wife. It only demonstrates the depth and breadth of the human heart.
I am thankful for my life. I am unworthy of my husband. I am entirely, utterly, madly beyond indebted to God for our children, as they are my soul and my meaning. I would not go back and change a single day of my life, a single moment, a single second, if that meant the possibility of altering my present. There are few things in this life that I know for certain, but that is, beyond a shadow of a doubt, one of them. I feel that with my whole being, leading me to believe in the validity of that feeling.
That being said, I am continually thankful for every experience, every person, every wrong turn or misstep, every left that should have been a right, every mistake and every success. I am thankful for those who were a part of my life, and who remain a part of my life if only in memory. I am thankful every time I reconnect with someone who knew me ‘then’, who knew me before I became who I am today, who helped me become who I am today, each in their own special way. Some days I want nothing more than the opportunity to sit down with my old group of friends and relive our shared past in a way that can only happen through togetherness. I envy those who never left home, who have the ability to relive the past on a daily basis. At the same time, I mourn them for the simple reason that I worry they will never fully appreciate what the past means to the present. I long for a coffee date, or a drive through the old neighborhood, or a siesta complete with a few beers, so long as old friends are included. I desire this not for impure reasons, not because I am unhappy, and not because I want to recreate something that no longer exists. I desire this so deeply because I have come to the point in my life that I wish only to dust off memory lane, remove the cobwebs in my mind, and remember how things used to be alongside those who lived it with me. Perhaps time will bring us back together for just such an event. One can only hope. Until then, I will try my best to remember how thankful I am, how much love I have given and received, and how much more I have to look forward to.