Preserve Your Memories; They’re All That’s Left You

Strange. I just heard of the death of a high school classmate, someone I have not thought about in over 30 years. I have moved on from there, and have not been back to that town in… 29 years, if not a bit more. And this person was never a close friend (in truth, I was terribly jealous, because the person from whom I heard this news today, had a crush on this person 35 years ago).

I always thought, even back then, that the people I would miss most would be that “not my best friends, but friends nonetheless” category. Because I would keep in touch with my best friends, of course, but I would likely not keep in touch with this second tier.

Turns out I did not even keep in touch with my best friends from High School. Or many from college. I moved on. Not everyone did; Cuttlespouse keeps in touch with high school and college friends, and most people I know do the same. I am the odd one. I don’t think I actually miss this person, about whose death I just heard. I do, though, miss the person from whom I heard the news.

Anyway, this will take a mere 4 minutes of your life, and is worth far more. If you can’t spare that, jump ahead to the three minute mark; either way, you’re welcome.


  1. Cynthia says

    You aren’t that odd for not keeping in touch with friends from past times. I, too, shed a lot of people I thought I’d keep. Turns out I don’t miss them at all. Got a full life and no more room at the inn for more people in it.

    I like to think I’ve prioritized my life differently now – the things I valued in high school and college just don’t matter anymore. So, while it may not reassure you, you can know you aren’t the only one to leave people behind with little to no regret.

  2. Otrame says

    Hard to believe that man who wrote those words was barely out of his teens (if so old).

    Through Facebook I have learned that one high school acquaintence became a doctor, one became a realtor, and one became part of a successful warm-up act for country singers. The first one was a casual friend, the second treated me like shit and the third one was always very nice to me, even though he had to have known I had a massive crush on him and I was very much not one of the popular kids and he very much was.

    I don’t feel in the least like there was anything wrong with “leaving them behind”. I left that town very shortly after I graduated from high school. These days it’s easy to keep casual contact with people no longer part of your life, but it wasn’t back then. I am interested in a mild way about them, but I think life keeps you too busy to spend much time thinking about or staying in contact with people who are no longer part of your life. Learning about the death of a fellow graduate of the class of 1968 is just a reminder that they will eventually be hearing about mine.

    Imagine how my 30 year old son felt yesterday when he found out an old friend had died of a heart attack that morning.

  3. echidna says

    The death of someone I knew is always a shock for me, whether the friend was close or distant. I’m not sure how that works.

  4. The Lorax says

    I leave a lot of people behind as well, though I was never very social in the first place, so perhaps that’s why.

    Oddly, I do miss the people I never was very close to, not because they’re gone, but because I regret never getting close to them.

    I wonder what they’re all up to now…

  5. daveau says

    I had an old friend from HS die a couple of years ago. We played in a band together back then, but other than that we didn’t travel in the same circles. We moved on and had no contact for 30 years. Then another bandmate, who I do run into occasionally, suggested a reunion. We all emailed back and forth for a few months, but nothing ever came of it. Then we heard from his wife that he had died of a fast spreading cancer. The shock for me wasn’t that I was close to him, or that I would never see him again, it was more that there was this 3-dimensional person, a lot like me, with a wife and kids and a mortgage, and he was just gone. Just like that. It was the first time I felt really mortal.

    Other than that, I’d say that there may be a few missed gems out there from the past, but in my experience, the ones you didn’t particularly like then, you won’t like now.

  6. says

    Facebook has definitely been a gamechanger here for me. I now know what people are doing that, were it not for Facebook, I would most assuredly lost track of 20 years ago. I have found, perhaps as a result of Facebook, that I think of people I knew, whom I am not “Facebook Friends” with from time to time. I have to think, if it were not for Facebook and my “friends” on there, I would never make the leap to think of those non-Facebook people from my past.

  7. DonZilla says

    Hey Cuttle, I don’t think you’re the “odd one” at all. Cynthia nailed it. We Americans attach WAY too much importance to high school life. You probably did a better job of growing up and moving on than some of your classmates who are stuck in the same place.

    I think a lot depends on how happy someone’s high school/college life is. Like childhood, if it was happy, they want to hang onto it, and maintaining classmate friendships does that. If it was miserable, they move on. I was bored in high school but loved art school, and have maintained lifelong friendships with art school classmates, not the high school ones. Art school classmates continue to stay progressive and interesting. The high school classmate I keep in touch with can talk about stuff that happened 40 years ago like it happened last week; her adult life isn’t happy so she hangs on to the past.

    No regrets. Keep moving forward!

  8. 'Tis Himself says

    Since I hated high school (I was bullied unmercifully) I have not kept up with any of the people I knew there. I’ve never been to a reunion and I don’t even have a yearbook. Since we’re all in our mid-60s, I have no doubt my classmates are starting to drop like flies. I would like to know if some people died so I could piss on their graves, but other than that I couldn’t care less.

  9. Eidolon says

    I’ll second – or third – Cynthia’s comment. I have tried a few times to reconnect with people from my past. I discovered my close HS buddy basically drank himself to death; my two closest college amigos are not individuals I’d hang with now. Of all my work ‘friends’, I keep in touch with only one now that I am retired. To paraphrase Tom Petty, I don’t them much at all.

    Living is a dynamic process and with any luck we all change. I can think of nothing more boring than being a person stuck in the past as some seem to be.

  10. Thorne says

    I have to go along more with ‘Tis than anyone else here. I wasn’t bullied, but I wasn’t one of the “in” group, either. I had a couple of friends, but haven’t seen or heard from any of them since the day of graduation. Don’t have a yearbook, lost my school ring, and don’t miss any of the people I knew then. Don’t miss any of the people I went to college with, either. Hell, since leaving New Jersey, I have aunts, uncles and cousins that I haven’t seen in more than 30 years, and I don’t miss them! It just never seemed worth the effort of keeping in touch.

  11. daveau says

    PS: If I recall correctly, Old Friends/Bookends was the B side to Mrs. Robinson, and a lovely song that was way over my head at the time. Thank you for reminding me.

  12. readingwhilefemale says

    I’m awful at keeping in touch with people, and I’ve only been out of high school for four years now. It’s not necessarily that I mean to leave people behind (most people, yes, but not everyone), it’s just that when I’m not around them for a while I forget about them. I don’t even miss them, which sounds awful, but it’s true. I sometimes feel bad for forgetting people, especially since most people I know still have friends from high school that they still talk to, at least online. It’s hard to keep friendships going long distance, especially with people who I don’t really have much in common with now. When I do talk to people after years of not talking it’s always awkward because I feel guilty that we haven’t talked in so long and because so much has changed. I feel like I’ve moved on from where we were when we had things in common, so most of the time it just isn’t worth the effort to get back in touch with people. Still, I wonder sometimes what people are up to and how they’re doing, especially my friends from my first college, whom I genuinely liked.

    But hey, if you miss someone, maybe you should try contacting them again. Send them an email or something. The worst that could happen is that they don’t respond, right?

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