I can’t help but stare at this picture.  I’m staring and staring at my computer screen, looking at a face that no longer looks back.  He’s been gone for 11 years now and I still think and wonder about him.

I wonder if I ever knew him at all.  I don’t think I did.  I wonder how much any of us knew each other in that delicate time.  I spent so much time with these people, and now, as an adult I truly wonder if we were ever friends.  I considered all of them my friends at the time, but that was under a 17 year olds definition of friendship.  The older I become, the more weighty that title becomes. 

I stumbled across a recently created facebook group, dedicated to those of us who used to (and currently are) members of this group.  A post by the administrator encouraged old school photos to be posted; so I posted them.  I’ve looked through these 29 photos three times already today. 

I look at these pictures and remember what was, I think about what could have been.  But then I wonder if things could have ever been different, perhaps they played out just as they were supposed to.  The decisions we made and the paths we all took.  We’re all scattered to the winds, all connected by a common past and yet not intricately linked as we once were.

I don’t think there’s anyway of denying what we all shared, though. Even in it’s normalcy and ‘just growing up-ness’ we were all changed, molded, affected and moved by our common experiences.  Who I am today is directly shaped by the people I shared those years with…..and I can’t seem to shake it.

I’ve travelled, grown, moved (a few times) and I still can’t leave behind the people and experiences that shaped me during those teenage years. No matter what happened, no matter what changed….I’m not sure I’d have changed a thing.  Moving and time doesn’t get me any farther from that time of my life. It remains with me, sometimes haunting me, sometimes in memorys that wash over me like a wave.  Sometimes all I need to revisit these people and this time is news.  Today, it was news of a new bundle on it’s way.

They’ve married, they’ve had children. And somehow I feel I’ve just floated on….I’m not sure I’ve moved on. You could argue that I haven’t since I’m sitting here typing about it, listening on loop to John Mayer’s version of Free Fallin’, starting at Matthew’s photograph and admittedly, surprisingly, wiping tears from my cheek.

I’m staring at his face, looking directly into my camera lens and I wish I could somehow make it three dimensional and reach in. I wish I could grab his face and just touch his flesh, somehow make all real again. 

What I wouldn’t give to make it all real again.  I wonder if when I left youth behind, I left a part of me that allowed me to just live.  I think too much, I analyze too much, I pause too much, I doubt – too much.

I feel like I’m free falling and I’m not sure that there’s anything to catch me.