We’ve now been in San Diego for ten months. We’ve had more random connections in those ten months than in the ten years I lived in Long Beach, NY thirty minutes from the town in which I grew up. Former students popped by when visiting friends. Friends we met traveling passed through on their way from here to there and we met in person. Mat’s high school friend now lives an hour away. Teenage youth group connections rekindled with those passing through for conferences. University friends grabbed coffee together en route to meetings. One of my San Diego yoga teachers grew up a few blocks away from me and went to the same high school. And virtual travel connections became a reality. When shifting gears or geography stations, people who are in your outer circles resurface – maybe it’s to teach you something or maybe it’s only for an afternoon. Life is beautiful and strange.
Last week, I found out that a longtime establishment at my high school is being canceled. SING (a battle of the classes in the format of a theatrical production which began in Brooklyn) was brought to my high school by my 11th grade health teacher. It took years to build up and over the past 2 decades has become a staple in the life of countless teenagers and an entire community. Sadly, Sandi passed away from Cancer 5 years ago and it hasn’t been the same since. As it did for so many others, she and SING made high school for me. Years later, as an educator and advisor myself, we sat for hours in her kitchen building a detailed document of every facet of SING. Forever and always, I treasure that. The memories, links, values, lessons, friendships, education and love of glitter gained will never wane; still, it’s truly sad to see it all actually fade away. With the rekindled relationships of the past few months, I’m not sure it all actually ever fades away. What do you think?
In the world of today’s social media, you really can find those connections and those graduating classmates really CAN ‘see’ you now. However, since social media is what we WANT the world to see, what would they really see if they ‘saw’ you now. Last week three random social media connections surfaced. One, a friend we met traveling in Eastern Europe 6 years ago who we actually grabbed dinner with this past weekend. Another, a friend from my Long Island youth group days who I last spent any extended time with over 2 decades ago. And still another coffee date (whom I’ve yet to meet) from a mutual networking group about travel, outdoor living and life as we choose it. These things NEVER happened in New York. In New York, the place I lived for the most time in my life where for the last ten years, the population in summer quadrupled and heaps of people I know passed through the same beaches I regularly frequented – these occurrences just didn’t flourish. For years, people who passed through our lives share the same space but geography and proximity are strange bedfellows. That shift changes things.
I guess it’s still all really about growth, who we are and who we want to become. So many of those dreams which began in high school classes or activities ebb and flow throughout the years. What did you want to be when you ‘grew up’? Are you sure now or still deciding? Maybe those people on those outer circles of youth will become closer in middle age as we might be a little closer to figuring out the person we truly want to be and not who we thought we had to be or who school, society or work told us to be – but really, truly the person we choose. Maybe those outer circles stay as they are and these moments simply pass through. Perhaps it’s all designed to teach us something. Do you still have many of the same friends from childhood? Are you one of those people who is lucky enough to have some people in your life from different parts or places who grow with you on this journey? What would you say today to a cup of coffee with a childhood acquaintance? Would they recognize you or be astounded by the changes?
Youthful lessons do matter. Value yourself, be kind to others, help those in need, find your own path, follow your dreams – these mean something. It’s not only sun, sand and sea year ’round; hanging in San Diego for awhile has enhanced my connections to those meant to be a part of my journey. Perhaps they’re a lesson in a few hours of an afternoon. Perhaps they’re that lifelong bond wrapped in a Facetime or Skype call for moments or hours or perhaps they’re here to provide something I might not even know I needed. Either way, I welcome the new and am embracing the possibilities. I still don’t know what I want to be when I ‘grow up’, but I’m happy to be on the path to continue to figure it out.
What fun connections have you had recently?