Saturday, June 19, 2010
Keep In Touch
(Kacie Waits, 2010)
Though I consider myself to be a caring person and a decent friend, I will freely admit to being horrible about keeping in touch with people that I don't deal with in my daily life. It is a struggle that I have to actively work at, making little reminders to myself in order to let those that I care about in different states and countries know that I am thinking of them. To put it a simpler way, the phrase I've unintentionally subscribed to my whole life is "out of sight, out of mind," and I don't like it.
We've all had people come in and out of our lives, some of whom have names we can't remember, while others have names we wish we could forget. At some point you will run into these people again, whether at the store, on vacation, or dating your sister. So often I've had to be momentarily polite and then avoid their desire to reconnect as quickly as possible, never once feeling bad about not sharing their interests in rekindling our association.
To be even more blunt, I've never understood how having a shared experience with someone for a brief period, such as an academic class or working together at a part-time job, allows that person to pretend that they have a close relationship with you years later. Now that's not to say that people whose social lives revolve around work, school, or some other organization is a bad thing, because it isn't. However, if that's the only thing you have in common, I think it might be a bit silly to want to stay in contact to share stories of your grandkids thirty years later.
We've all lived diverse chapters in our lives, from attending schools in different states, working in many different job fields, and traveling in ever-changing social circles. There are a lot of great people that I always wished I could stay connected to, and there are three times as many that I wish I could avoid indefinitely.
So, with the dawn of life-consuming social networking sites, my fear of this "keep in touch" phenomenon has only been heightened. For a long time I was apprehensive about becoming fully engaged in sites like Facebook and MySpace, fearing that the only people that would find me were my disgruntled ex-girlfriends or the jealous boyfriends of past models. Surprisingly, I have been excited and inspired by finding people from my past who I truly enjoyed knowing back then or have sincerely missed from my life.
In the last three years, I've found people I've been searching for or have been thinking of for years. We've had dinners, worked on projects together, and, at the very least, been able to stay in touch with the aid of all of this amazing modern technology. Just today I shot family portraits for an old boy scout and high school friend who, up until two years ago, I hadn't heard from in over fifteen years. I've been lucky enough to see his son grow and change every time they come back to visit our home town. Even though we weren't and aren't the closest of friends, having that small piece of my past life, which I practically ignore and rarely think about, makes me feel more complete in a way I never knew was lacking. That is just one of at least a dozen examples I could cite, and I am curiously optimistic about who else might come out of the ether.
At best, maybe I'm becoming more mature and am able to handle more complex friendships and relationships than I ever have before. At worst, I've become nostalgic and am perhaps glossing over the past. Either way, I can't deny that it feels right.