Mar 19, 2010

“Click”… Life Gets in the Way

“Pictures don’t change only the people in them do.”

No truer words have ever been spoken. I look back at pictures of my life, elementary school, high school and college.

In all of the pictures as the camera clicked I am smiling, arm around my friend du jour, thinking, “It will be like this forever”. Some of the pictures are with friends who are still my “true blue” today, but some are with people who are no longer in my life. Some I’ve had a “falling out” and some it’s just because “life gets in the way.”

My Mother is from Long Island, NY, born and raised. She relocated to Philly years ago, but when she gets on the phone to talk to her “Long Island Girls” she is always emotional when she hangs up. I remember being very young and seeing tears in her eyes as she hung up the phone.

I asked her what was wrong and she replied “Oh nothing is wrong, I just miss my girls.”

 I remember being perplexed by this comment. It seemed easy enough to me, so, I added my adolescent solution; “Why don’t you just go visit them then?”

She smiled, “It’s not so easy when you get older, I want to see them more, but it’s hard…Life gets in the way.”

What a ridiculous response I thought. But adults made EVERYTHING complicated so I shrugged it off and walked away.
That was one of the first time’s I remember hearing the expression, “Life gets in the way.” It wasn’t until I reached 20something that I really understood the truth behind it...

Pictures are amazing. As I look through old photos I am propelled into the past. These pictures have the ability to capture a moment, a feeling and a memory. Things that we may have forgotten had there not been the “click” of a camera.

Whether we like it or not everything is captured. The geeky outfits, the chubby stage, the hair that screams 1980’s, the expression on my face as I “gazed” - yes that’s right GAZED at my prom date (puppy love was alive and well in my prom photos). So I admit some of these things I wouldn’t mind forgetting!

But there are equally as many pictures that I wish I could hold onto and live inside forever. Pictures of people, places, pets. One’s that I can just glance at, yet they pull on my heartstrings. These pictures are the reason that we would stop at the drug store (regardless of how late we were running) just to pick up a disposable camera. These pictures are the reasons we now validate spending hundreds of dollars on digital cameras. These pictures, no matter how much we have changed, have remained the same. They are a constant… reminding us of how great a time we had with whoever was captured in that moment with us.

There is a very “hallmark” cheesy quote that comes to mind (no judgment please) it say’s, "People come into our lives for a reason, a season or a lifetime.” So whether its old friends, new friends, girlfriends or boyfriends; and whether we like it or not, their presence is marked in our lives by the photos that remain.

Some relationships we’ve grown apart or grow out of. Some are for very good reason and we should be thankful for, however, what bother me are the relationships that just seem to “drift”.

When we drift apart, NOT because of a falling out and NOT for any particular reason, just because of life. Because you graduated from school, moved away, got a different job. Because there are only so many hours in a day and as people we can only do so much.

So even though we have NO reason to lose touch… it happens. We start a new school, a new job or move somewhere else. We meet new people. We don’t replace the old, but we branch out and make new friends.

 As we grow up, a natural gap forms in space and time between Elementary School friends, High School Friends, Sports Friends, College Friends, Work Friends… some just get lost in the shuffle.

It happens, as we get older.

It’s easier and more convenient to be friends with someone at your job. Someone who you see every day because there is no effort, you just retreat to each other’s desk for daily venting and chit chats. That’s okay(I’m not implying that true friendships cannot form out of work environment) I’m just saying that we shouldn’t be so accepting of “life getting in the way,” we have to consciously put forth the effort to maintain our previous friendships and connections for they contribute to who we are.

As life goes on, change and growth are inevitable. We get into serious relationships, get serious jobs and we naturally stop hanging out with friends as much. We have to...
  • wake up early
  • go to work
  • pay bills
  • be accountable AND
  • fulfill responsibilities
Unfortunately, hanging out with friends has moved from a priority to a luxury.

It wasn’t until I got older that I realized why my mom didn’t hop in the car that day and drive to New York to see her friends. She was no longer a free-spirited 20something. The role of softball shortstop, high school student, grocery store clerk, girlfriend and best friend, had morphed into college graduate, professional employee, wife and mother. She had grown up, and with that, her priorities had changed.

It’s all part of life. This we know, this we have to accept. But allowing “life to get in way” is something that I think we can change…(hear me out here).

Maybe our generation, we 20somethings can alter this acceptance.. Maybe through cell phones, text, email and even social media (gasp!), we will have an easier time holding onto the people who count. If we use these devices as avenues to stay in touch (rather than replacements for social interaction), maybe it will be a little bit easier to catch-up more often. To keep in touch with friends while we fulfill our other grown-up roles of employee, wife, mother… adult!

My mom has stayed in touch (regardless of how often) with her “Long Island Girls.” Friends she had from grade school and high school. Without all the technology, they managed to hold onto each other through all the trials and tribulations of life. So we have a jump-start.

Maybe I’m just optimistic but I KNOW that if I only have 10 minutes of free time at work, I can still send an email to a childhood friend if I think of them. I can shoot off a text to an old friend suggesting a day to catch up over coffee. I can use the free moments to set up time to create new moments with the OBG’s (that’s oldies but goodies). The friends where no matter how much time has passed, you can pick up right where you left off and you feel as if you haven’t missed a beat. Friends, like my moms “Long Island Girls…”

This Saturday I’m going out to lunch with a friend I lived in Italy with. A friend who I saw everyday in college, who I lived with for 5 months, someone who I cherish, but I’m sad to report I haven’t seen in 3 years. I hate admitting that. But “Life got in the way.” Yet, last weekend when I got a voicemail from her, and she responded to my text and we emailed back and forth…we were able to “re-connect” and set up a time to catch-up.

Do I attribute this to technology? Not completely, but partially. Either way, I’m happy I get to see my friend.

I have come to understand that time with friends is precious. As frustrated as us 20soemthings are with...
  • STILL being single
  • STILL being in school
  • STILL looking for a job OR
  • STILL not being where we want in life....
We need to keep in mind that eventually we will get there.
And when we do, we will miss our habitual “girls/guys nights.” We will eventually pull out our box of pictures and look back at our 20something years with a smile, happy that we had the click of the camera to capture the moment. Life is going to keep changing…that’s only thing that seems to be consistent. But some of these changes have made it easier to keep in touch, to reach out, to reconnect. So do it! Take a minute and make the effort to hold onto the people that matter most.

Grab your friends, your camera and don’t be shy to ask a stranger to capture the group picture… Because everything will change in the “CLICK” of a camera and the “blink of an eye” and when you look back you’ll be happy to know you caught the moment.

But do not allow these moments to live only in the past. Drifting is unacceptable. If we all make an extra effort to keep in touch with friends, we may be able to stop life from getting too far in the way. Some things are inevitable… like paying taxes and getting older. Unfortunately, as we “grow-up” it is also inevitable that hanging with friends will shift from a priority to a luxury…however, we all need to indulge in more luxuries in our life. Remember, friendship is one of the only true gifts we get in life AND it’s also one of the only luxuries that are FREE…so indulge!



“Take care of the luxuries and the necessities will take care of themselves” -Dorothy Parker  
“A good snapshot stops a moment from running away.” -Eudora Welty

 “The most beautiful discovery true friends make is that they can grow separately without growing apart.” - Elisabeth Foley