Old Friends

By Brigid Curran

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Photo by Sharefaith

Suppose you have still maintained your friendships from the past. You are fortunate. As you age, you start to lose touch, or fall out, with friends you grew up with. It is rare to have people who knew you in childhood, especially as you get older. Having old friends can help fill in the gaps between imagination and reality, but that could also be a bad thing!

Having done readings for over thirty years, it still intrigues me when a client contacts me and says they had come for reading over ten years ago. I use this opportunity to ask questions about where I had met them as it reminds me of my journey. I like to reminisce on those times, how far I have come, and all I have learned, including those who have come and gone from my life.

Selfies weren’t invented back in the day, and it was usual to have boxes of photographs you could reminisce over. My photo collection has a gap from when camera phones were invented. I now have sporadic family pictures, all digital! If technology blows up, all the photos will disappear. How big is that cloud?

There is nothing nicer than holding a polaroid. I realised this when a friend showed me an old photograph of our children when they were around two.   Her daughter and my son were sitting on the steps of her house eating ice cream. I took a photo of the photo! But what surprised me the most was holding that photograph and being transported back in time. Where did we live, who was around, and what was the occasion? You could almost smell the past.

There is nothing like an old photograph. It evokes emotion as you recall the stories around it. People would take photos because of an event or occasion.   Not just random selfies for no real reason except narcissism (love and light people)

The film would be taken to the store to be developed, and you waited a week to get them back. There you would pick them up and together recall the stories, and memories were created as you are reminded of what you looked like or how you felt at the time. Were you happy or sad?   Are the people still in touch?

I talked to a friend about not recalling much when I was eighteen, nor did I have photos around that age. I had forgotten what type of person I was, my fashion sense (bad being the 80s), and my personality. You did not take photos of yourself and post them online; none of that existed. When I discussed this with a friend, she asked about an old boyfriend I went out with when I was eighteen. It was a conversation around the ‘what’s’. What is he doing now, what does he look like, and what has happened? The algorithms of the exchange must have gotten into the ether. Without a word of a lie, I received a message from him. Via Facebook, he said he was cleaning out his stuff and found an old photo of us. There I was, an eighteen-year-old girl with an eighteen-year-old boy. I was once so young and innocent, not like the girls today. They have so much more confidence. I sent the image to my kids and said, “Look, mum was young once.” They ignored me!

I was slim, youthful, and innocent, dressed in a sparkly red top and a cream skirt, which I would have made, as I did back then—looking loved up with my man, who looked attentive towards me, with his arms around me. Were we in love? To the untrained eye, we may have looked that way.   He wore red pants and a cream top; weirdly, we were colour-coordinated. I joked that we should capture that day, dress up the same, and take a photo.

I asked him where we were going. All dressed up in our eighty’s clothes. Of course, he would not remember, as I did not.

A picture paints a thousand words. Sadly, that young man broke my 18-year-old heart. Did we reconnect as older people? Yes, we met up thirty years later. Captured the fun times, remembered the bad times, and caught up to what we are doing now. Once the conversation ended, we reconnected to our current lives and said goodbye.

Should the past stay in the past? 

Friends come and go. But the memories remain. Our brain has a way of manipulating memory, good or bad. Photographs can speak a thousand words, like the happy photograph of two 18-year-olds. My story and his memory of that picture would differ, but does that matter?

(Excerpt from I’ll Say This With Love and Light) out now on amazon or email info@makingachange.co.nz

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