In 1997, 7 girls sat around my parents lounge in Somerset West and agreed that 10 years later we’d all congregate on top of the Empire State Building in New York. We agreed never to talk of it again, but that no matter what happens, or where we were in life, come 1 July 2007 we’d make our way to a place we’d never been before, and see each other (again).
The location choice may have had something to do with Sleepless in Seattle – a movie that I still actually haven’t seen, but through not seeing it, believe it to be an ultimate love story of star-crossed lovers who are destined to be together, but time, circumstance and… wait.. no, that’s Romeo and Juliet. Nevermind. I should probably watch Sleepless in Seattle.
But.. on 1 July 2007, not a single one of us were in New York. Not a single one of us brought it up. Actually, I may have been the only one that remembered the vow at all.
Obviously when we made this childish vow, we also thought that as soon as we finished matric finals we’d go our separate ways. We never anticipated that really, such good friends would remain that. Go on to be housemates in Stellenbosch and then in London, drink tequila shots over breakups, make-ups and lost jobs in our twenties. Dance together, eat together, travel together.
Out of those 7 girls, I’m in touch with all but one (and even her I’m in touch with over facebook but does that actually count?). We never made it to New York, because I guess.. we didn’t need to. But the promise was there. We assumed we would’ve separated, drifted, and that this vow was what would bring us all back together again. (How little faith we had in our 16 year old friendships).
Today I made a suggestion of meeting up, no matter what, in ten years time again. A suggestion for a promise, that may make saying goodbye, letting go or moving on (when it comes to that) a little easier. But… when you’re 16, the idea of hooking up at 26, with rising careers and serious boyfriends, maybe even husbands, seemed so appealing.
Now, at 34, my imagination took me to a place where I’m 44, older, with more wrinkles, finer hair, possibly fatter and really… almost half a century old.
While the person I’m meeting at the end of this agreement may not be one that would care for my wrinkles, or lack of top arm definition (at least I can hope they care very little) – this growing older thing (which differs from the growing up thing.. that which I’ve been in and out of enjoyment with) is frightening. I quickly cancelled the idea of hooking up in 10 years time – which if I’m honest, wasn’t catching on anyway.
10 years may pass and nothing may change. 10 years may pass and everything may change. It would not be the first time I’ve written about forgetting people or how quickly we move on – it happens (it also doesn’t happen at all, but lets generalise). We have this way of just being able to adjust, assume a new life and forget everything and everyone else behind.
The thing with getting older and setting up a reunion to do it, is that both of you get to look back at yourselves and think (err.. judge) – did you do the most you could do with the past 10 years? Is this the best place you could possibly be right now. With every year that passes, I think of an approaching potential reunion (for the record, I have none lined up), where my future self, asks my past self – do you still want to be in that place where you are?
A ten year reunion with someone (or a group of someones – you know, like high school. You were thinking it) is attended mostly out of intrigue, interest… plain nosiness. I guess. There’s that hope that you’d have done better than someone would’ve expected of you. But there’s that risk that you’ll be disappointed. Perhaps by the lack of connection you now have with the friend who was your best when you were 16.
I can’t even imagine myself in ten years time. I assume like the difference between 24 and 34, I’ll be wiser. I’d have to be – I’ll be older (doesn’t wisdom come with age and experience?). Hopefully I’ll be braver (ah, that’ll make the experience that’ll make me wiser).
While no future date has been agreed on, and I doubt it will or if it is, that anyone would keep it (I don’t think those types of promises ever work out) – I do hope that having planted the seed now – I take the idea of being 44, and make every year between now and then count.
Reunion. Or without.