Writing

Friendship And The Life I Left Behind

When I was younger, like so many others, I thought that best friends were people who knew me better than anyone else in the world and with whom I shared everything. That was certainly true of me, my best friend and I were like siblings! As we grew up, things started to change. We both had jobs and responsibilities now. There were no longer any more sleepovers or wild adventures to be had; it seemed that our friendship wasn’t meant to last forever after all!

The memories of the life I left behind come to me in waves, like whispers in the night. Although the time has passed and the people I once held close are no longer in my life, I can’t help but be taken back by the recollection of the moments we shared together.

Friendship is something I never quite understood until I had the pleasure of experiencing it first-hand. It felt like a great reward, something that I could only aspire to achieve. Yet when it finally came, it brought with it a comfort like no other.

There were many days spent in laughter and joy, as we shared stories of our pasts and reveled in the present. We would gather around a table, eyes twinkling with anticipation, and basking in the beauty of living in the moment. Each one of us had something unique to offer the group and it was an exciting mix of vibrant personalities that made each gathering so special.

When I think back on those days, the moments stand out to me like pictures painted in the sky. The old jokes, the shared secrets, and the love and admiration that we all held for one another are still alive in my memory. Even though it has been years since those times have passed, I will always cherish the friendships that I once shared with those I had known since childhood.

People come and go in our lives, and every friendship faces its own obstacles as we travel down our respective paths. Some bonds remain tight, but other relationships drift apart over time, no matter how hard we try to make them last. Every goodbye, no matter how small or large, leaves an impression on us, and those experiences are just as essential to our growth as the happy memories we make.

We’ll always cherish the good times spent together, but we need to remember that each relationship has both a start and an end date—as does life itself. I have come to learn that everything in life begins and ends, but it is not something worth fearing; it is simply a part of being human.

As I look ahead to a future without them, I can’t help but feel a little sad. Those moments are a part of me now, a part of me that will never be forgotten.

Memory is indeed the cousin of nostalgia, and when it comes to friendship, it is even more so. So, here’s to the life I left behind and to my friends who are now distant memories. Life is a complex web of change and uncertainty. As we age, our friendships and relationships undergo transformation in the same way that we ourselves do. We grow and develop, learning more and more about ourselves and others as time passes.

Our experiences shape us, our choices change us, and our paths ultimately diverge. Sometimes these changes happen slowly over time, like a subtle undercurrent that you can barely feel beneath your feet as it pulls you away from people and places you’ve known for years. Other times, these changes come on quickly and without warning, like a tidal wave that takes everything with it as it crashes ashore.

Sometimes these changes bring us closer to those we love and care about. Other times, they take us away from those who were once closest to us. We find ourselves struggling to keep up, longing for the days when life felt simpler, easier, and more certain. We look back on memories of laughing with friends until our sides hurt, or making plans with no end in sight.

No matter how much things have changed, I know one thing to be true: the memories of friendship will never disappear. Even when the corrosives of time separate us, the memories remain strong; a beautiful reminder of the life I left behind. These memories will remain with me forever, reminding me of these people who have touched my life in ways that I can never fully express.

I recently took a trip to New York City, back to the home where I was born, only to find myself wandering lost in the streets I used to know. Everywhere I went, it seems that everything had changed. Buildings that used to be the places where I would gather with family friends, were unrecognizable, and many of the places where I shared laughter with my friends from school had been replaced by unfamiliar stores and apartment blocks. Even the trees, whose branches had once served as a canopy for us as we shared laughter in the park, were replaced with concrete and now seemed to belong to another era. All these things were silent reminders of how far I had come from the days when life was filled with unending possibility and wonder.

It’s never easy knowing what will happen next, especially if you’ve fallen out of touch with your friends. But, instead of focusing on how things will never be the same again, let’s celebrate what our friendship was really all about: their unwavering love and support while they were still around. When you have someone who will always understand what you’re going through because they’ve walked in your shoes before, it becomes easier to see that friendships do change. Sometimes, they also grow stronger with time. There are few people in this world who will truly know you inside and out without judgment or condescension, without holding anything back.

Yet, sometimes these friendships simply erode and even vanish with time; this is something that we must just come to accept. Nothing in this life is guaranteed, even what seems to be the strongest of friendships can be broken through unforeseen circumstances and different life paths being taken.

As I looked around at the ghosts of my past, my heart felt heavy with the knowledge that everything changes—even our closest relationships. Friendship is the sum of a million tiny moments, like a patchwork quilt made of laughter and tears and hugs, sharing good times and bad. Still, life goes on, and those small moments often lead to moments of growth and change that can’t be held back. One must cherish and hold such moments, and remember the memories that will always be there.

Colophon
The images used in this piece were taken in New York City. The Polaroid photo was taken in the back yard of my childhood home; a place I now own and maintain. The more recent photo is a selfie I took during my most recent visit to New York City, at the 14th Street subway station.

Asides
That’s Just The Way It Is | Chasing Cars | Dark Horse: How I Learned To Embrace My Unconventional Nickname | Will The Memories Die? | Keyframe | Now Is The Time To Let Go | A Typical Fridays Child | A Little Ghost For The Offering | I’ve Lived A Life Less Ordinary | In Another Set Of Chances I’d Take The Ones I’ve Missed | It Came Without Warning

8 Comments

    • Thomas Slatin

      Thank you so much for leaving your comment!

      There’s no denying the power of words and what they can do to us. When someone makes the effort to put their thoughts into words and articulate them in a meaningful way, it can be incredibly powerful and make a lasting impact. When someone takes the time to share their opinion on something I’ve written or created, it’s a priceless feeling.

      I’m glad you like my Thomas The Tank Engine Earrings! As you know, I am a huge rail fan; my wife and I have decorated our house with a combination of train memorabilia and relics from my firefighting past. It’s interesting how different aspects of our lives can be connected through seemingly disparate objects.

      The earrings, for example, represent a combination of my interests and passions, of being able to enjoy both the innocence of children’s entertainment, and the service to my community. They also remind me of the importance of finding joy in simple moments, as I did when I watched Thomas The Tank Engine when I was a little girl. They bring up wonderful memories and the reminder to live life with a childlike enthusiasm and gratitude.

      As always, I sincerely appreciate you taking the time to comment! Thanks again! 🙂

  • Marla

    The loss of the old does hurt, but the new brings with it a different type of joy. Always remember the past, not with pain but with a sense of joy because without it you couldn’t be where you are. And I had the turtle sandbox too!!

    • Thomas Slatin

      You and I will be friends till the end, Marla! If you’re in Lake George again this summer, I would love to hang out with you and your family again! Also, if you’re ever in Vermont, absolutely let me know. 🙂

  • photogeek23

    Your story resonates so well. As most of have had very similar experiences. For me personally, I feel very lucky to still have strong relationships with people I met as a teen or in elementary school. It really makes up for who those who might have vanished from our social circle.

    • Thomas Slatin

      My wife and I have each other. That’s it. We were always outsiders, misfits, and intellectuals, who were never popular growing up. I let go of my social media because I was being harassed for being a lesbian, and as soon as my profiles were deleted, I no longer existed at all to anyone. ☹️

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