At the moment I have 948 of you, according to Facebook.
If you’re one of those 948, you already know that I haven’t talked to about 900 of you in years (except maybe a “Happy birthday, [insert name]”, followed by a like and a “Thanks!” on your end).
948 of you “friends” and that’s all the majority of these relationships amount to.
I went for a walk the other day, and, while on this walk, I began to feel nostalgic. The trees reminded me of free time I spent riding bikes with my friends in elementary school. The cars reminded me of road trips, listening to the radio, and car fights with my siblings. The rain reminded me of the rain that, as a child, kept me inside, wondering why it was only sunny on school days when I couldn’t play. The road reminded me of walking across town when I lived in Mexico and didn’t want to spend my money on bus fares because I wanted to buy tacos later.
Then I wondered, “Do my friends remember these things?” I wondered if you all felt nostalgic from time to time. I wondered if, in your nostalgia, you ever think of me the way I think of you. I wondered if you remember me as a friend or as someone who made you feel small and insignificant. I wondered that because I remember the people who made me feel alone and like I didn’t belong just as clearly as I remember (at least some of) the people I treated poorly just to fit in more with the people who didn’t even want me around.
I hope you can forgive me.
I remember you well, the ones I treated poorly. And I know you now–even though we haven’t spoken since the last time I was a dick to you. I follow you on Facebook and I see what you’ve been up to. In spite of the was I treated you then, can I tell you that I’m proud of you?
I consider myself fortunate to have come from the same place as some of you, and, others, to have crossed paths with you on my way to this point.
Are you proud of me?
In many ways, I haven’t turned out quite as I had expected. In some ways for good, and in many, many ways, to my embarrassment. If you feel the same way, I want you to know that I still think you’re great.
I honestly can’t believe how much many of you have accomplished. And to those who, upon seeing the successes of others from our past, feel like they haven’t done as much: it’s not a race. Your experiences and your friendships mean much more than a piece of paper, than a direct deposit, than a title. At least I hope that’s the case because some of the things that have brought me “honor” have been, in my opinion, a complete waste of time.
Wherever you are, I’m proud of you.
I hope you’re doing well.
I’m sorry for the things you’ve been through since the last time we spoke. And I’m sorry I didn’t know and that I wasn’t there. I’m sorry for this because I’m pretty sure you went through it. I’m pretty sure because I went through it, too.
I keep you in that 948 because, in some small way, I hope that helps you feel less alone. I wonder sometimes if you, like me, have often felt alone.
I have. And I do. And I don’t know if it’s merited. I have 948 friends. How can someone be alone amongst nearly a thousand people?
I miss you.
And I wish I had done you right. I wish I could tell you sorry for everything an angry, confused child, a hormonal, adolescent butthead, a fully-grown adult asshole said and did when he had an opportunity to make a real friend.
I hope my times of weakness haven’t been my impact on your life.
If you remember those times, I hope you can see that I’ve changed. Because I hope I have too. God, I hope I have.
I should probably let you go–you probably have a life to get back to and so do I.
Let me just say thank you. Thank you for your time. Thank you for giving me a part of your existence when we were together. Thank you for seeing me as a human who was worthy of your effort (even to those who weren’t so nice and especially to those to whom I wasn’t).
I have grown because I knew you. And whether our paths cross again or not, I’m glad they did at all.