Ten years ago, I graduated high school, joined Facebook and met a few people who have since become lifelong friends. On more than one occasion, I’ve stopped and said to those friends, “We’ve known each other for a DECADE!”
Isn’t it funny, how a decade can go by so slowly from ages 8-18 then it goes in a blink of an eye from 18-28? If I think about it for too long, my head tries to explode.
I don’t know what it is about ten years — maybe it’s the constant threat of being pulled into planning our reunion — but I’ve been oddly reminiscent about myself at age 18. I’ve often wondered what life would be like now had I not followed my big sister’s footsteps to college. Or how strong my confidence would be had I let go of those things I so desperately clung onto that were not meant for me.
Sometimes I try to remember the worries I had, the problems I faced, and the fights I started with friends and family. They felt so big at the time, and now I can’t remember many of them.
What I can remember is making the best puffy paint t-shirt for senior spirit week, the awkward first few weeks of living with Kara in our mismatched blue/brown and black/lime green/hot pink comforters (I’ll let you guess who picked which color scheme), and driving with my best friend to the beach.
I remember sitting in my favorite teachers’ classrooms, painting sets for the school musical, and never getting a yellow card on the soccer field despite my best efforts.
I was especially reminded of this over the weekend when I heard someone ask, “Is Leah here?” while in the changing room at a boutique in my hometown. Surely, they can’t be talking about me, I thought, but it was my mom who responded with a “yes.”
I poked my head around the curtain, and there stood my favorite teacher of all time. All four foot nine inches of her. I ran over to her to hug her in the mismatched outfit that I half-owned. Instantly, I was transported to her 10th grade English classroom with the poster of a baby covered in spaghetti in front of my row of desks. She made us keep creative writing journals where we wrote from a prompt every day then turned them into her on Fridays. Mine was hot pink.
I sent her a copy of Tuesdays with Morrie after I graduated because she was of the Morrie Schwartz variety. Her love for English, for education and for me made a lasting impression on my life, and I felt all of those feelings rushing back to me as I hugged her. She was emotional, too, embarrassing her daughter and granddaughter as she exchanged numbers with me so we could keep in touch.
She said goodbye after telling me that I made her transition back to work after her mother died easier simply because I told her I was glad to have her back after a week with a substitute.
Today, my friend Sarah told me that her mom lives and breathes by asking the question, “Will this matter in 5 years?” It’s nice to know that the good stuff — the important stuff — matters for much longer.