Fanning the Nostalgic Flame

This blog is nearly as old as my time here in New York City. It has become a decent body of work; it’s an okay chronology. I was never this diligent in journaling during any other part of my life, and I’m so glad to have developed the habit.

I revisited the archives this morning, as I tend to do, with “Hometown Glory” at least semi-permanently stuck in my head, and stumbled upon an entry from April 10, 2007. I’ll copy and paste it here. A friend of mine had just moved from the city the week before, and I had a really hard time with it, crying on the train, on my way to my therapist’s for an appointment, and I had cried all the way back home, gotten ready for bed, and gone to sleep. Emotions bombarded me, and the following week this post happened:

***
Depth X Height X Intensity

In high school, friendships tend to go deep, fast. You’re in many of the same classes, even extra-curricular activities. You spend your spare time together. Factor all that in with what it means to be a teenager: self-discovery, learning critical thinking, drilling into everything’s deeper meaning, even if it doesn’t have one; hormones raging; angst flying. Identifying with Rand or Salinger or Hemingway or Dickinson; Pearl Jam, Counting Crows, Sting, Tori Amos. It’s a pretty intense time.

Not everyone has the same experience. Some coast along until they get to move away from their parents. Others live those years with moderate intensity. Others still dare to push, to challenge the limits of their very young characters. Paradoxically, these are the old souls, the kindred spirits.

These were my peers. We didn’t wear our hearts on our sleeves, per se, but I know we had angst, though not the destructive kind. We jammed and cruised and tossed some ideas back and forth and flicked others away, like lint. In the classroom, in somebody’s living room or a porch or a trampoline; out at a park, in the car driving to nowhere in particular, or perhaps coming back from bowling or eating.

I wouldn’t trade those times for anything in the world. I’d die first.

The intensity tapers as life goes on, in varying degrees. The people are different; the transitions suck. Relationships aren’t as much intense as they are weird; they are dis-tense, and the wordplayer in me morphs that into distance, which is the obvious space between me and these other people who don’t seem as kindred – we don’t want to get too close. They notice it too.

Old souls in high school aren’t the only ones. In fact, that phase of life has thoroughly prepared us to spot one now, a mile away; years later, or maybe a few hours. We recognize a certain gentleness and power, a familiar warmth in the countenance; a subtle thawing, like the conversion of winter into spring. Then, the intensity picks up again. You know how it goes.

Another transition comes along, and we haven’t forgotten how much it hurts to say goodbye. And that was 13 years ago. Or even last week. The key is to cherish it as much as you can presently, even if it means an unbearably poignant departure. The key is to cherish it as much as you can presently, even if the thought of goodbye keeps sneaking in on your forethoughts, which bear the trite truth: there’s no such thing as goodbye.

The key is to remember that you are old souls, kindred spirits.

When you do part ways, the key is to be so happy and excited for your friends, so grateful for your paths crossing, that you cry and cry and shudder and hiccup and snot everywhere and pray and cry yourself to sleep; so that eventually, you can look back fondly at all the good times, and giddily anticipate a sweet, joyful reunion. Every single time.

Intense.

***

Needless to say, I’ve found some old souls, kindred spirits in New York City. I’ve been blessed enough to get to know you, to have been found worthy to be a part of your lives. Some of you have left recently, and I didn’t get the chance to tell you how special and incredible you are; how much I miss you. I have hugs reserved specifically for you. Some of you will leave with the next outgoing tide. Some of me will go with you.

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