Monday, March 19, 2012

Your Fourth-Grade Self


I've mentioned before on this blog that I am no longer on facebook. I deleted my account permanently last year. I got tired of seeing photos of events to which I was not invited. (Busted! You know who you are.) I got tired of reading the 15 congratulatory comments about every little thing that someone deigned to humble-brag in a status update. I got tired of being forced to "like" marketing campaigns under false pretenses when I really just wanted to enter a sweepstakes. I got tired of seeing people play their most well edited, greatest hits. I want to hear my friends, colleagues and acquaintances hit that achingly honest sour note once in a while, because if you're not going to be honest (funny-looking moles, bad vacations and all), then we're not really friends and never will be.

While still on facebook, I also caught myself wanting to search for people with whom I attended elementary school, junior high and the first two years of high school, but not really wanting to find them. In a weird way, I want to keep those happy, and even those not-so-happy memories of the people, places and times spent together in context. I don't want to know if my favorite little boyfriend from sixth grade got fat, lost all his hair and now sells used tires for a living to support his eight children and six ex-wives. I want to remember how we made each other laugh, got into trouble together for not paying attention in class and how we didn't speak to each other out of overly-self-conscious embarrassment for the four days we were officially "going together".

My family moved around more than most during my school years. I wouldn't know these former elementary and junior high classmates walking around in adult skin if I bumped into them on the street, so why should I spy on them online? Plus, if you moved around to new places like I did as a kid, you may agree that the only upside to helplessly being uprooted every few years was the opportunity to reinvent yourself. While my senior year high school friends might still recognize me, and think "yeah, that makes sense", anyone from elementary school probably forgot me many years ago. On the off chance that those elementary schoolmates do remember me, the adult version of me likely wouldn't be relevant compared to the fourth-grade version of me that they remember.

Lately I have been acutely aware that I don't have any lifelong (or even nearly lifelong) friendships. This lack of super-longstanding friendships leaves me feeling a bit untethered at times, yet also free from the past. I feel free to enjoy life in the moment, without worrying about how to spin it into a status update that will impress (or at least not alienate) friends, frenemies and family. I feel unfettered by past expectations and declarations. I appreciate the people in my life (really in my life) that much more.

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