So, last weekend, I went back to a city where I went to school, where all my friends from that school would be reuniting for a wedding and where 'E', an old summer fling of mine, was now living. I mean, talk about a trip down memory lane. More like three memory lanes merging.
I can't even really begin to describe my pre-departure excitement surrounding this trip. I should have been more apprehensive. I knew going into the trip that there was a whole host of uncertain variables which could either add up to a fabulous or a disastrous weekend. There was the possibility that I would have to work all weekend, and then there was the possibility that 'E' had a new girlfriend or it would just be awkward, and then there was the possibility that there were so many planned group activities that I wouldn't get to really catch-up with my friends. Even knowing all this though, I couldn't help it. I was totally giddy.
And for once, I wasn't disappointed! Everything went perfectly. Being together with all my friends from school again was just as lively and rambunctious as I remembered, and still I was able to catch up and spend some quality time with a few of my closer friends in that group. 'E' did have a new girlfriend...but they broke up (win!) and it was surprisingly un-awkward seeing him (every day I was there). I revisited my favorite restaurants and watering holes. My BlackBerry stayed remarkable quiet. I got a massage. The wedding was lovely. And at the end of the weekend, I didn't really want to leave, but I didn't want to stay either.
This was not at all the reaction that I was expecting to have.
Usually, when I go back to a city that I used to live in, I am struck by an overwhelming sense of nostalgia. Inevitably things have changed; stores have closed, new buildings have been constructed, the people are all different. That was only sort of the case this time. Sure the skyline had some new indentations, and the downtown area was peppered with new bars, but my friends were all there again. It was as though we had all just returned from a really extended winter break.
Usually, when I see old friends again, I'm a little saddened by how much we've changed and grown apart. So many changes in our collective lives had occurred in just a year and a half - marriages, engagements, pregnancies, babies, cross-country moves, home ownership, new cars (lots of them), new jobs, new significant others, new exes. Yet our group vibe was still the same. Everyone had entered a new stage in life, but once we were drinking pitcher after pitcher of beer at our favorite bar in the middle of the afternoon, it was as if everything picked up right back where we had left off.
And usually when I see an ex, I just don't know what to feel. There's always something awkward and uncomfortable; that odd dynamic where you are both wondering whether the other still has feelings for you. Two and a half years had passed since I had last seen 'E'. I worried whether we would have anything to talk about, how I should act around him, what he was expecting from that weekend, if any emotional repercussions would result from seeing him again. But when I was with him, all of that worrying went away. He was exactly how I remembered him. We were exactly how I remembered us.
So when the weekend was over, I felt far from nostalgic. Everything had been familiar and comfortable. It was a true trip down memory lane. Things were just how I remembered them. And things were just as wonderful as I had remembered them. Which pretty much explains why I had nothing to be nostalgic for.
Now, I don't like change. But not feeling nostalgic at the end of the weekend made me realize that as much as I dislike change, I don't like when things are stagnant either. I've struggled a lot in the past year with the feeling that I have no idea where I'm heading with my life. I've never had a ten-year plan, but for the last 26 years, I at least had a three or four-year plan. Now it's 2010, and I have no idea what I will be doing or where I will be in 2011, 2012, 2013. I am settled and happy in New York. But sometimes it is just easy to become complacent, and I worry that if I let it, it will inevitably become like this past weekend - a little too comfortable and ultimately, stagnant. The weekend was a reminder that I need to keep reevaluating and moving forward.