“Upside down, boy you turn me, inside out and round and round…” Diana Ross crooned as loud as was possible from the tinny radio lodged in the dashboard of the little red Corolla. Compact, and not the least bit luxurious, it sped us to many adventures. But we could not go anywhere without our mascot Disco Gopher. He had to be bopping from the rear view mirror. He was discoing because, well, we were embroiled in the tail end of the Disco Age and that was the music that was constantly playing. He was a gopher because the three of us thought that the movie “Caddyshack” was hilarious.
Tilly, Jake and I were nearing the end of our high school careers. The whole world lay ahead of us. We had big dreams and ideas and we would talk about them on our mini road trips. We were enthusiastic and sure that if we figured out the steps and the right direction we would achieve all of our goals. Ah, sweet idealism.
That was approximately thirty years ago. We promptly lost track of each other after graduation. We each moved to different corners of the country and participated separately in the ups and downs of real life. It wasn’t until a couple of years ago when I joined facebook that I rediscovered them as well as many other lost people from my past life. I had not kept track of any childhood friends or attended any high school reunions. I have stopped to wonder why.
As a child, I lived in ten different houses in five different states by the time I graduated from high school. I continued roaming on my own accord after that. Initially, this caused me to be shy, but eventually it grew in me the ability to walk into any group of people and be a confident and friendly presence. This has been a very useful skill for me. However, I believe that I have recently discovered a downside. It has had the added side effect of causing me to never feel completely tied to places or people. I see myself as having developed a sort of ‘catch and release’ attitude towards friendships. I fish and catch friends easily and appreciate the time with them, but in the back of my mind there is the thought that eventually they will be released when they or I move on to another pond, so to speak. My pattern has been to prevent myself from being too close to anyone because I expect change to come. I would not look back. Instead, I would always look forward because nothing is as sure as change.
Rediscovering friends from the many stops in my life has shown me that there are still hooks left inside from those friendships, particularly the ones from childhood. The friends we made as a child are uncomplicated and direct. They are made before we have begun the process of trying to define who we are and the directions that we choose in our adult lives. Our childhood friends already knew who we really were and they liked it unabashedly. As we grow, we pad around our pure selves with the roles we play, the experience that we have gained and our station as adults with all of the responsibilities and airs attached. I found it refreshing to allow a way through all of that stuff to rekindle childhood friendships. Our childhood friends knew what they loved in us before we tried to make ourselves into the fancy adults that we are today.
I am happy that Tilly and I can once again giggle and chat the way we did as schoolgirls, and it completely warmed my heart when Jake told me recently that he was glad I was still as sweet and poetic as he remembered. I had forgotten about the simpler core of who I am. Reconnecting with childhood friends has reminded me. It’s okay to look back and hold again what should be valued. It is a pleasure to know that Disco Gopher can still dance in my mind even if Tilly can’t locate him. She said she was sure that she still had him in a box somewhere…
**Please note that as a general rule I will change names.