Like everyone, I think often about the relationships I have, and those that I have had and lost. I think about the ways in which relationships transform and grow, or not. I think about the relationships that I want to invest in, and those I may not.
The conference I just returned from revealed a lot to me about my relationships with people. It was at my alma mater, and a strange confluence of events resulted in about 20 people from my undergraduate years returning to that place. These were people in my same department and program–people with whom I had spent a lot of time … nearly two decades ago.
Many of these same people were at this conference when I went the last time 5 years ago, and I realized that my emotions were entirely different then than they were this time. 5 years ago, I had minimal interactions with these people–a brief hello and chit-chat about how things were going in our lives. That felt deeply unfulfilling, and it left me feeling on the outskirts of friend groups, like I had lost something meaningful that I had thought was still there from all those years ago.
This time, I had those same brief interactions, but the sum total of those 20 hugs and hellos and quick chats felt good–amazing, even. I realized that it’s enough to recognize a shared history and simply be glad in the moment to be seeing that person’s face again two decades later. It’s enough just to do a quick catch-up and be thankful to be in the same space. I left those encounters knowing that I really don’t want anything more than that, and that I’m blessed to have such a wide net of connections in this life.
I also did get to have several truly meaningful and profound conversations with a handful of very close friends who were in attendance, and that felt even more sacred after the past few years.
I think that the times have changed, certainly. Covid has made us all more grateful for times together like this. But, I think also that I have changed. I’ve made peace with what is and am living more in the moment with gratitude for the history I’ve had and the people I’ve known.